With promotion to the Premier League already assured, Brighton can secure the Championship title by winning Friday night's game at Norwich. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Norwich have been the division's great entertainers, with the Canaries scoring 76 goals (only Fulham have scored more) and conceding 66 goals (only relegated Rotherham and relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest have conceded more)."
Norwich v Brighton
Friday, 21st April, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1
Norwich's slim hopes of securing a play-off spot were extinguished on Easter Monday despite a solid performance when winning 3-1 away at Preston. It's now mathematically impossible for the Canaries to squeeze into the top-six rendering their campaign effectively over.
Interim boss Alan Irvine will hope his audition for the permanent role continues in the same vein as that Deepdale date but since Alex Neil was sacked, the hosts' results have been rather unremarkable and inconsistent (W3-D1-L3).
Midfielder Alex Tettey missed the Preston match and will be assessed here whilst centre-half Timm Klose was also absent and appears unlikely to return to the team on Friday evening.
A fifth successive triumph secured Brighton's place in the top-flight of English football for the first time in 34 years. Albion overcame Wigan 2-1 at the Amex on Easter Monday and can now wrap up the title by bagging a sixth win on the spin here.
The Seagulls partied hard after clinching promotion and enjoy a seven-point buffer over second-placed Newcastle so there's a danger of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' creeping into their psyche. But it's hard to imagine Chris Hughton allowing his team to lose focus on his first trip back to Carrow Road.
Sam Baldock remains sidelined and centre-backs Shane Duffy and Connor Goldson are likely to miss the rest of the season. Oliver Norwood, Jiri Skalak and Jamie Murphy will be among those hoping for recalls.
Brighton are looking to achieve a league double over Norwich for the first time since the 1951/52 campaign - and head to Norfolk having picked up just a sole success in 16 league visits (W1-D7-L8). Nevertheless, the Seagulls did thrash the Canaries 5-0 when the two teams locked horns earlier this season.
Norwich's [2.48] record in front of their home supporters has invariably been good. But the hosts have claimed only two victories in six here and their defensive vulnerability always concerns when they take on the division's leading lights.
City have returned just W1-D3-L8 in their 12 meetings against the Championship's top-seven with the Canaries conceding at least twice in nine of those encounters.
Brighton [3.00] have bagged seven triumphs in eight and with the promotion pressure lifted, could be well capable of rubbishing the odds on offer. I'll take the insurance offered by a punt on the Draw No Bet market instead with Albion available to support at [2.20].
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Norwich have been the division's great entertainers, with the Canaries scoring 76 goals (only Fulham have scored more) and conceding 66 goals (only relegated Rotherham and relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest have conceded more).
The hosts' matches were averaging 3.20 goals per-game during Alex Neil's reign but that number has soared to 3.80 during Irvine's brief spell in charge and I'd fancy the Championship's top scoring home side to make their mark here.
However, City can't be trusted to keep things tight at the back and with Brighton failing to keep their own sheets clean in six fixtures played at fellow top-eight sides this term, backing another goal-heavy game suits.
Over 2.5 goals is a fair enough price at [1.75] and it is a bet that has paid out in 70% of Norwich's league games, including in 11 of their 12 meetings with the current top-eight teams in the division.
Mark's 2016/17 Profit/Loss
Staked: 113.00 pts
Returned: 126.50 pts
P/L: +13.50 pts
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