Dean Smith takes charge of Norwich for the first time as Southampton try and get the better of him for the second successive game
After international football took a break until March next year, Norwich return to Premier League action this Saturday as they look to get the Dean Smith era off to a flyer when Southampton visit Carrow Road.
History will be made when the sides kick off, as Dean Smith becomes the first manager to ever take charge of two different clubs against the same opposition in successive games, having suffered his final defeat as Aston Villa boss at St Mary’s, thanks to Adam Armstrong’s goal for the Saints.
Smith probably expected a little more time off than he got in all fairness, but after jetting to America to see his son, Norwich came calling and the hire and fire nature of football showed its face again.
Since taking over, he’s spoke of the job not being a risk, and set about trying to save the Canaries from their remaining 27 games, something which begins with a potential relegation rival visiting Norfolk.
Southampton are in good form right now though, and are unbeaten in their last four league games, winning three of those with clean sheets. They’re also boosted by the news that Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse and Tino Livramento have all been declared fit for the trip to Norwich, having reported minor issues in the past fortnight. Centre-back Jack Stephens is the only definite absentee, as he battles with a knee tendon issue.
For Norwich, Smith is without Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram, but could welcome back at least three key players. Ozan Kabak is fine after recovering from glandular fever, Billy Gilmour played for Scotland in their win over Denmark and could make the starting XI again, and there’s an outside chance of Todd Cantwell making the squad after injury.
The Saints have dominated the most recent meetings between the sides, winning the last three including both games when Norwich were last in the top flight. The last time Norwich beat Saturday’s opponents was 2016 when Alex Tettey scored in a 1-0 win for the Canaries.
A repeat of that result would be the perfect start for Smith’s tenure, and make it consecutive wins for Norwich after their win over Brentford before the international break. A win for Southampton could take them as high as seventh in the table, but should at least ensure they end the weekend comfortably in mid-table.
Norwich City take on Southampton at Carrow Road on Saturday, November 20th. Kick-off is at 3pm.