Wycombe have little time to celebrate Tuesday night’s hard-fought win over Reading as all attention turns to Sunday’s tie. Top of the league Norwich City travel to Adams Park and will look to continue their Premier League chasing form against a Chairboys side whose recent performances have not looked like those of a bottom of the table side.
Ahead of Sunday’s game against the Canaries, Alicia Povey chatted to Chris Reeve of Talk Norwich City to get some insight into the Championship leaders.
It’s pretty clear from where Norwich City lie in the table that their form has been extremely strong, but how have their most recent performances stacked up against the rest of the season?
Recent performances for Norwich City have been excellent, and although we struggled to get going in our last game against Birmingham - barely getting out of gear one - we still went on to win the game 3-1. I think that’ll be encouraging for Norwich City fans. It actually ended up looking like a convincing performance when it wasn’t one.
Wycombe come into this game off the back of a win against fifth placed Reading during the week. Will this have changed any expectations ahead of Sunday?
No, Daniel Farke will approach the game in the exact same way that we approached the Birmingham game. Birmingham had just won against Sheffield Wednesday and had wind in their sails, much like Wycombe will do ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Norwich City won’t change the way they play, the way they set up or even the starting-eleven that we play; I think that will pose quite a prominent threat to Wycombe’s defence.
I think it’s potentially more about how Wycombe line up against Norwich, because if Wycombe do what they did against us at Carrow Road, they’ll stand a really good chance of possibly even nicking something.
Despite a gulf in possession in our last meeting (78% to 22%), it took until the 90+1 minute for the Canaries to find the winner, with the match finishing 2-1. What were the take-aways from that October game?
My take-away from that game was that Wycombe stood a really good chance of staying in the Championship at that point. I thought that Wycombe were very organised, very well-structured and they kept up with the pace of the game. The pace point is difficult, as Norwich tend to try and pass teams to death and it works for 80% of the Championship.
We’ve never really changed our style, known as Farke-ball, and we always have a high percentage of possession and try to run teams down. That didn’t happen with Wycombe - they stayed in the game really well and it took a bit of magic from Mario Vrančić, who always saves the day for Norwich, to get the win.
Teemu Pukki, Emiliano Buendía and Todd Cantwell have all been vital to Norwich’s success in front of goal, but which other players, that might fly under the radar, should Wycombe be aware of?
The Norwich City golden triangle of Pukki, Buendía and Cantwell get all of the plaudits and deservedly so - they’re absolutely outstanding. But I would say that the two players who go unnoticed, not just by Norwich City fans but also by opposition fans too, are Grant Hanley and Oliver Skipp.
Our club captain, Grant Hanley, is a really solid centre-back who’s been absolutely phenomenal this season. He’s shown that he is a Premier League standard defender and is too good to be in this league.
Then, Oliver Skipp, who we signed from Tottenham on loan. I have absolutely no idea how our Sporting Director Stuart Webber managed to secure his services, because he should be playing for Tottenham right now. He’s phenomenal and he scored his first goal in senior football last time out against Birmingham, so he’s a man to watch. He’s very much the engine room of that Norwich City midfield.
If Wycombe can apply enough pressure on Hanley and hope that he makes a mistake, or if they can stop Skipp from being that engine room and connecting those balls through, then they’ll stand a chance of frustrating Norwich City, which is what Birmingham almost did.
What do you think Daniel Farke’s message will be going into the game?
I think Daniel Farke will be looking to cut out individual errors. We still look slightly weak from dead ball situations and that’s a huge area of opportunity and latent potential for Wycombe to try and exploit.
He’ll be very cautious of the mindset going into this game - top vs bottom. There’s always a risk that players think that it’s going to be a walk in the park; I don’t really think that happens in the professional game but there is going to be an element of that in the players heads. They’ll be thinking that this is going to be an easier game and I sincerely hope that Daniel Farke really drills that out of them prior to kick-off.
I think he’ll be telling the players to be patient as well. We’ve seen what Wycombe can do - they did it at Carrow Road. So, Norwich City should concentrate on playing their football and not getting frustrated. I suspect they’ll be a lot of fouls to try and slow the game down, lots of gamesmanship, and I think that it’s important that Daniel Farke tells his players to be patient because I don’t think this is going to be a walk in the park.
Is there any early Norwich team news that we might’ve missed?
Ben Gibson, a player that we signed on loan with an obligation to buy from Burnley, is probably still out with a niggle in his lower back.
Daniel Farke doesn’t really change winning teams at all unless he really has to, so unless something has happened in training this week, you’ll probably see the same starting-11. We might mix up the players we have on the wings, but I doubt it.
Finally, the big question - what’s your score prediction?
I think that this will be a tight game and a very cagey first half. As I’ve said already, I don’t think that this’ll be a walk in the park - I think that Wycombe will have the ability to frustrate Norwich and that’ll be where the game is won and lost. However, I just can’t see Norwich conceding - our defence is just so solid.
When Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendía are on the pitch, doing incredibly well as they are at the moment, I can’t see anything but Norwich City taking home three points.
Thank you to Chris for talking to us ahead of Sunday. The Chairboys aren’t going to make it easy for the leaders! You can find more insights from Chris and the Talk Norwich City team on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Sunday’s game against Norwich kicks off at midday and is being broadcast live on Sky Sports. Season ticket holders can access the match live via iFollow.