Norwich can move five points clear of Leeds with victory against Swansea on Friday night. Tom Carnduff expects them to do just that.
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Norwich v Swansea (Carrow Road, 1945 GMT, Sky Sports Football)
A game on Friday night is the perfect opportunity for Norwich to extend their lead at the top to five points, and it's one that they should take in front of their own supporters.
Daniel Farke's men are showing no signs of slowing down at a crucial part of the season. The Canaries have lost just one of their last nine, scoring at least three goals in their last six games.
They are an absolute joy to watch. An ability to attack in a way that catches the eye has helped them find themselves top of the pile, with Farke recruiting the right players for his system.
Teemu Pukki has been prolific throughout the campaign and has played with an influential attacking midfield trio behind him. Onel Hernandez, Marco Stiepermann and Emiliano Buendia have both created and scored chances.
While Pukki is grabbing the headlines, it's the latter of the three mentioned above that is a real star attraction in the side.
Buendia found himself down the pecking order at the start of the season, dropping in and out of the team at various points but has now established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet (excuse the cliche).
Lining up on the right side of midfield, the 22-year-old brings real creativity to this squad and it's shown in his direct involvement in goals this season. Buendia has had a hand in 18 goals this season.
His efforts against Millwall, Bolton and Ipswich have been particular recent highlights, while his presence was felt in the top of the table clash against Leeds.
It's led to multiple man of the match awards and it's hardly a surprise. In a side with a belief of attack, Buendia is a perfect fit and emphasises everything about the philosophy.
In a game against a side stuck in mid-table, you'd expect another top performance as he looks to get his side over the line. At a price of 13/5, the value is there in backing Buendia to score anytime.
It's also worth investigating the 4/1 on offer with Sky Bet on the midfielder having two or more shots on target in the match. In recent games against Bristol City, Bolton, Preston and Leeds, Buendia had at least three shots.
It's a game where Norwich should be on the front foot and see the majority of the chances. There's no doubting that Swansea have shown, at points, that they are a decent side in this division, but away at the champions-elect, they will likely be second best.
They too have demonstrated an ability to attack. The likes of Daniel James provide the excitement while Oli McBurnie has proven his eye for goal. However, at this point in the season, Norwich will know how crucial victory will be.
That's reflected in their best price of 8/11 for three points here. For something a little bigger, a bet to consider is the 2/1 on Norwich scoring three or more goals.
As discussed earlier, they have had little issue in finding the net this season and are hitting at least three goals on a regular basis. There is also 3/1 available as a general price on a Norwich win with over 3.5 goals in the game.
The message for Friday night though is back Buendia. He has been a more than impressive part of this Norwich attack and looks like he is getting better every week.
If, as expected, Norwich are to achieve promotion this season, they will be requiring players like Buendia to be playing at the top of his game and the likelihood is he knows it.
The Carrow Road faithful should be going home happy after this one, with the pressure shifted to Sheffield United and Leeds to perform on Saturday.
Score prediction: Norwich City 3-1 Swansea City (Sky Bet odds: 12/1)
- Norwich are unbeaten in five home league matches against Swansea (W3 D2 L0) since losing 2-3 in November 2008 under Glenn Roeder.
- Swansea City haven’t travelled to Carrow Road for a Championship match against Norwich since August 2010, losing 0-2 under manager Brendan Rodgers.
- Norwich have scored three or more goals on 14 occasions in the Championship this season – only Manchester City have done so as many times in the top four tiers in 2018-19 (also 14).
- Swansea have lost each of their last three away games in the Championship; their longest run of consecutive away defeats in the second tier since April 2011 (four games).
- No player has made more assists in the Championship in 2019 than Norwich midfielder Emiliano Buendía (six – joint-high with Said Benrahma).
- Swansea striker Oli McBurnie has scored 16 league goals this season – the last player to score more for the club in a single league campaign was Michu in 2012-13 (18 goals in the Premier League).