The dismal days of Daniel Farke’s reign during the opening stages of the 2021-22 season now seems like an eternity ago, with Dean Smith weaving his magic at Carrow Road to oversee four victories from his last five in charge of Norwich.
Two weeks on from a Joshua Sargent-inspired victory over Watford at Vicarage Road – which triggered the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri – Norwich dumped Wolves out of the FA Cup on their own turf, with Kenny McLean heading home the game’s only goal on the stroke of half time.
Norwich will need nothing short of a miracle to keep their cup run going against Liverpool next month, and there is still plenty of work for the Canaries to do to secure their top-flight status for another year, even if they have risen to 17th in the rankings.
Newcastle United and Watford both sit just one point behind Smith’s side having played a game fewer, but back-to-back Premier League wins over Everton and Watford have set the Canaries up well for the imminent relegation dogfight.
However, not since 2012 have Norwich managed to string together a three-game winning run in the top flight, and a tally of seven goals scored at home remains the worst in the division, with Smith’s side failing to score in four at Carrow Road before putting two past Everton last month.
Plenty of giant killings were either enacted or threatened during the fourth round of the FA Cup, but Crystal Palace ensured that they would not be humiliated by lower-league opposition in front of their own supporters by seeing off League Two’s Hartlepool United.
First-half strikes from Marc Guehi and Michael Olise propelled Patrick Vieira’s side into round five, where a very winnable home clash against Stoke City awaits, and that 2-0 win will be welcomed with open arms amid a sticky patch in the Premier League.
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Palace threatened to make a game of it against Liverpool before a highly controversial penalty killed any hopes of a comeback last month, and having now taken just one point from their last three in the top flight, the Eagles now occupy 13th spot in the table after 22 games.
Vieira’s side should comfortably stave off the threat of relegation while challenging for an unlikely top-half ranking in the coming months, but having failed to win in five on the road and scoring only once in their last four away games, Norwich will certainly sense an opportunity here.
That being said, Palace needed no second invitation to sweep Norwich aside 3-0 on December 28, which made it six games unbeaten for the Eagles in the Premier League against this week’s hosts since a 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road in the 2013-14 season