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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Match Preview

League One
Norwich City vs. Tranmere Rovers
Saturday November 14, 15:00, Carrow Road

Two sides in contrasing form clash in League One this weekend as high-flying Norwich host a Tranmere side without a permanent manager and entrenched in the relegation zone.

It's been a disastrous campaign for Rovers, who parted company with manager John Barnes last month after just two wins from their opening 11 league matches.

The former Liverpool and England star had only been appointed during the summer to replace Ronnie Moore, but now the Wirral club are under the caretaker managership of popular physio Les Ross.

He's since gained a single win from his four league games, a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Brighton, just their second win at Prenton Park all season. Last weekend their FA Cup game with Leyton Orient ended 1-1.

Tranmere's problems have largely stemmed from defensive frailties, with their record of 33 goals leaked in 15 games the worst in League One. It's a statistic not helped by the fact three different goalkeepers have already played behind Rovers' defence.

Goals have largely come from Ian Thomas-Moore, the son of former boss Ronnie, who has four strikes to his name this term. Other notable names in the squad include experienced midfielder Paul McLaren and the much-travelled striker Bas Savage.

Reversing a record of six defeats from seven on the road will be a stern task at at Carrow Road though, with the home side on top form since new boss Paul Lambert took charge.

The former Colchester manager inflicted a 7-1 defeat on City on the opening day of the season before, in a strange twist of fate, taking over from the axed Bryan Gunn in East Anglia.

Since then it's been a rapid rise for the Canaries who have won six and only lost twice in the league under Lambert. They're also unbeaten on home soil since that opening day collapse, conceding just five goals in six matches.

Hot shot Holt: The Norwich striker's goals are propelling his team's promotion push

That run has helped propel them up to 5th and into the play-off positions ahead of Tranmere's visit. Their good form also emphasised by a 7-0 thrashing of Non League Paulton in the FA Cup last weekend.

A key figure in their promotion push is striker Grant Holt. The experienced frontman has
already bagged nine league goals and 14 in total this season. And youngster Chris Martin has also found the back of the net nine times too.

Winger Wes Hoolahan has been in impressive form too, and has experience of winning promotion from this level with Blackpool. A defence including Adam Drury and Michael Nelson is also improving with five clean sheets in their last seven games.

It all means Tranmere are in for a tough ask to take anything away from their trip to Norfolk. City are in strong form and have added some steel to their rich attacking options.

It might be obvious, but it's difficult to see past both side's form continuing as Norwich run-out comfortable winners.

Nobes' Prediction: Norwich City 3 Tranmere Rovers 0

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