Will it be third time lucky for Norwich against Manchester City? Probably not. Dan Brigham catches up with fan and blogger Alex Timperley. They discuss why it’s a good time to play City, why have they been so good against smaller teams, why he doesn’t want Leicester to win the league and look ahead to Pep Guardiola’s arrival
Dan: So, we meet again. Last time we spoke for the FA Cup preview Norwich had won three from four and all looked hunky dory. Then you blew us away and we haven't won in the league since. So thanks for that. Really. And that wasn't even your full-strength team.
Things have been a bit mixed for you guys as well. Good in the Cups, but losing ground in the league. You should be storming the Premier League, shouldn't you? Why aren't you?
Alex: Hello! I'm not sure you can blame your recent run solely on City... You caught City on a particularly good day. Our lot seem to enjoy playing against Norwich for some reason.
Mixed is a good summary of the season so far. The thing about the league is a tough one as the correct answer makes me sound arrogant. The correct answer is: of course we should be winning the league. With the players City have there should perhaps be something approaching a 10-point cushion at this stage. Sitting in fourth isn't a disaster but it is a massive disappointment when looked at in context. The context being mainly that City have failed to beat a top-six team all season. That is unforgivably bad. If we had won even half the games against the other teams around us then it would be a very different league table. I suppose an unfortunate injury record has played its part but at the same time that doesn't explain the total capitulations which have become a feature of this season.
On the other hand, I really, really enjoyed our League Cup run. City played good football, there were lots of goals, there was a rock-hard semi-final and a stressful/amazing win in the final. It's what cup football is all about. Also enjoyable: Seeing a team of our children go toe-to-toe with a full strength Chelsea team for 45 minutes. They did fantastically well.
The Champion's League is looking good too. Surely City can't mess this up? A great away performance and three away goals against Dynamo Kyiv. It would have to be a suicidal performance at home to lose and not progress to the quarter-finals for the first time ever. If we make it then suddenly there are a few teams in that round I'd expect to see City beat and then it's the semi-finals. With a bit of luck in the draw… who knows…
Dan: The Best Manager In The World is arriving next season. Not Glenn Roeder, but Pep Guardiola. What are you expecting from him? Can he turn you into the new Barcelona or Bayern?
This time 10 years ago Stuart Pearce was your manager, and now it's going to be Guardiola – which is the perfect illustration of your dramatic rise (and also a decent illustration of Pearce’s weirdly overrated standing in the game as a manager). You must have enjoyed the horror and jealousy from United fans?
Alex: Honestly, I've not really concerned myself with what United fans think about City. It will be never stop being funny watching them implode as their fans have proven to be even worse losers than they were winners – quite some feat – but as for their opinions on City? Not interested.
I cannot wait for Guardiola to turn up. I like Manuel Pellegrini as a person but he has very clearly found his ceiling as a manager and City are currently stagnating on the pitch at best. The issue for me is that he is still making the same mistakes as he made three years ago. He can't learn and change anymore – and that's where Pep comes in. He is constantly changing and adapting and I have a feeling he is going to turn City into something special.
All this talk about him taking the easy route by coming to City is the purest of nonsense. This will be the most difficult job of his life but I think he will thrive and I am genuinely excited to see it.
Dan: I hope he does great, too. It can only be a good thing having Guardiola in the Premier League. And I agree – it won’t be an easy task at all at City. The easy choice would have been United or Arsenal, where there is already a long-established history of winning things. Just a shame Norwich might not be around next season to witness it….
Do you remember those days when City weren't challenging for titles? In terms of years it’s a short time ago, but it seems an age away in terms of culture now. Do those memories of struggling up and down the divisions make part of you hope that Leicester win the league, even at your expense? Just to show that the top four or five hasn't become a cartel, and romance is still alive in the Premier League?
Alex: To your first question: Yes, I remember when City weren't challenging for the title! It made up my entire childhood and teenage years. And no, I don't hope Leicester win the league at our expense. I find it really strange when people want someone else to win the league over their team. Never understood it, never will. I want City to win the league and that's it. The Premier League is the trophy I want to win every single year. I hope the day never comes when I get so blasé about it that I don't care if City win it or not!
The rise of Leicester has been good to see, though. I'm sure there will be some disagreement but I still don't see City as fully part of the top football cartel (though we are on the way to being one of them) as I can still remember being in Division 2. When we got loads of money in, the reaction from the cartel clubs both in England and across Europe was absolutely insane. They literally made new rules to stop us joining in their money party. With that in mind it makes me really happy whenever a new club comes up and helps to spoil the party, whether it was us a few years ago or Leicester and Tottenham this season.
Dan: Moving on to Saturday's game, do you expect many players to be rested ahead of your Champions League game? How do you expect the side to look? You’re going to rest your entire first team, right? RIGHT?
Alex: I would expect to see a full strength team for both games. Sorry. The only person who might get a rest is Raheem Sterling as he will be needed at full strength on Wednesday to counter Andriy Yarmolenko who, it turns out, is a very, very good winger. Don't understand how he's not got a big move yet.
I'm hoping David Silva gets a rest but wouldn't bank on it. Likewise, Yaya Touré. I have had enough of Wilfried Bony so hopefully Kelechi Iheanacho gets another start. That lad is the real deal and the future.
If there weren't three away goals on the scoreboard already then maybe the team would be slightly weakened but I just can't see it happening. City aren't winning the Champion's League so getting a top-four spot secured as soon as possible has to be worth playing the first XI twice in a week.
Dan: I think I'm right in saying you've not lost to anyone in the bottom half of the Premier League this season... maybe Stoke, but I think they might've crept into the top 10 when they beat you.
Have City become much better at beating the smaller sides? Is there any hope for us?
Alex: We have become really good at killing off the teams in the bottom half, something which has been a real weakness over the last few seasons. It is more than a little annoying that it has come in the same season that we've stopped beating the top teams, which used to be a City hallmark!
On the other hand, this is probably one of the best times of the season to play us. City had 10 games over February and the players are clearly knackered. A nice quick start and anything might happen.
Dan: Oooh, a glimmer of hope at the end there. So let's finish this off by obliterating that glimmer with a score prediction....
Sergio Agüero is in fine form and there's no chance he isn't scoring… probably.
Dan: Cheers Alex. Would love a giant-killing at home this season, but I fancy our best chance of that will be when we play the other half of United (and doing the double over Manchester United and still getting relegated would be the most Norwich thing ever). I reckon it might be tight, though, like at your place. So 2-1 to you guys.
You can follow Alex at @Alex_TIMP. He writes for Typical City, which you can follow at @TypicalCity. Typical City is funded by the readers via their Patreon page. If you fancy extending a bit of footballing goodwill from Norfolk to Lancashire, you can fund them with just $1 a month so they can continue to operate.