FA CUP PREVIEW: Norwich City v Luton Town

The infamous second season syndrome looked like was going to well and truly arrive at Carrow Road this year, writes Mike Simmonds.

A fine first campaign back in the Premier League once more had seen the club finish in 12th place, 11 points off the drop.

The Canaries were forced to search for a new manager in the summer though with Paul Lambert tempted by the now not so bright lights of Villa Park and Chris Hughton leaving Birmingham to take up residency.

Careful not to disrupt an already settled ship, Hughton made a handful of summer signings, all that increased the quality, with Steven Whittaker joining on a free from Rangers, while £3million was splashed out on Robert Snodgrass from Leeds.

Michael Turner arrived from Sunderland as did Spurs’ defender Sebastien Basson who has earned rave reviews for shoring up the backline. Javier Garrido added a tough of Spanish flair with a loan move from Lazio, as the squad, already containing the likes of Grant Holt, John Ruddy, Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington had a sterner look to it.

Things started awfully though with a 5-0 thrashing at Fulham, as Norwich went seven league games without a win.

Things started to look up though when Arsenal of all teams were beaten 1-0 at Carrow Road to and the Canaries followed that up by going on a remarkable run of form.

Spurs (in the Capital Cup) and Stoke also left Carrow Road empty handed, and in November, Manchester United came unstuck too, losing 1-0 as Norwich’s amazing run showed no sign of being halted.

Wins over Sunderland and Wigan, plus away at Swansea, saw Hughton’s side go 10 Premier League games unbeaten, with six wins and four draws, lifting them well away from the dreaded drop.

However, the 2-1 victory over Wigan on December 15 is the last league success as five defeats out of six in have followed, the most recent a 5-0 thumping at Liverpool a week ago, dropping them to 13th in the table.

Stats can be misleading though because as well as the trip to Anfield, they have come up against Chelsea and Man City in that time, while also losing at West Brom and West Ham.

An FA Cup trip to Peterborough saw their last success of any sorts at the start of the year, with a much-changed Canaries easing to a 3-0 victory.

Like Luton, Norwich are facing a potentially busy transfer window with speculation rife about new signings.

The Canaries have been linked with multi-million pound moves for strikers Gary Hooper from Celtic and Swansea’s Danny Graham, while Sierra Leone forward Kei Kamara is also on the wanted list.

So far, only Notts Forest keeper Lee Camp has been brought in though to add competition.

Team news: Midfielder Andrew Surman definitely plays as he starts his first match after a three-month lay-off due to a knee injury.

Declan Rudd replaces Mark Bunn in goal, while full-back Steven Whittaker could be on the bench after five weeks out with a hip injury.

Keeper John Ruddy is out with a thigh injury, while striker Steve Morison (thigh) and Sebastien Bassong (calf) are also sidelined.

Hughton said: “I will be making changes. But it will be a strong squad – I just need to determine which 11 will start.

“It will be an opportunity for Andrew Surman, so he will play, and Declan Rudd will also play in goal.

“I’ll make a decision on the starting XI, but it will be a strong squad. If I look at the 18 they will all be players who have been very much involved in the first team squad this season.”

Top league scorer: Canaries - Grant Holt, Anthony Pilkington, Robert Snodgrass (4) Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10).

Man in the middle: Andre Marriner: Premier League referee who is in his 10th season now and has taken 15 top flight matches this season, his last being on Wednesday, the 5-1 home win for Arsenal over West Ham United.

Has reffed 21 games in total this season, showing 67 yellow cards, and was also in charge of the Europa League clash between Lyon and Athletic Bilbao in October. Yet to brandish a red this season too.

Has officiated on the international scene when Sweden beat Moldova 4-1 in the European Championships group stages.

His last Luton game was way back in August 2004, a League One clash that saw Hatters beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Kenilworth Road thanks to Kevin Nicholls’ strike and in that season, Marriner also took the 2-0 home defeat to Brentford, in the FA Cup.

He also reffed the Division Two game season before when Town drew 0-0 at Barnsley.

In charge: Chris Hughton – 52-year-old former defender who spent most of his playing career at Tottenham making almost 400 appearances in 13 years.

Had brief spells at West Ham and Brentford before retiring in 1993 and also won 53 caps for the Republic of Ireland in that time, scoring once, becoming the first black player to represent his country.

On quitting the game, he was coach and assistant manager at Spurs from 1993-2007 before moving to Newcastle as first team coach in 2008.

Following the club’s relegation into the Championship, he became boss and led them to promotion back to the Premier League before being sacked with his side 12th in the table.

Was appointed Birmingham boss in 2011 and took them to fourth in the Championship, which led to an approach and ultimately a moveto Noriwch in June 2012.

View from the opposition: Winger Elliott Bennet: “After a bad result and performance you can’t wait to get back out there to make sure you put it right.

“It is Luton and we’ve got to match their work ethic and energy and get back to winning ways, and put the Liverpool game to bed and get through to the next round of the FA Cup.

“If anything we owe just the 1,800 (travelling fans) something, never mind the rest of the people turning up. We know what we have to do and I’m sure our attitude will be bang on and we’re looking forward to playing against Luton.”

One to watch: Robert Snodgrass - started the previous FA Cup match at Peterborough and is a hugely talented attacking midfielder with eight Scottish caps under his belt

Started out at Livingston before signing for Leeds and after a higly successul four years at Elland Road, Norwich shelled out £3m for his services in the summer.

Is starting to hit some real form now with four goals in his last 12 games, including efforts against Swansea, Southampton and West Brom, plus the FA Cup win over the Posh.

Friendly faces: Leon Barnett - started his career at Kenilworth Road after coming through the ranks and made over 50 appearances before he was snapped up by West Brom for a fee of £2.5million in July 2007.

Spent a spell on loan at Coventry and then joined Norwich before making his move permanent in January 2011.

Hasn’t been first choice this season with 10 appearances thus far, but is expected to start this weekend.

Chris Martin is also still a Norwich player and he spent the 2008-09 season on loan at Luton scoring 13 goals, including one in the 3-2 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success over Scunthorpe.

Currently on loan at Swindon though where he has scored once in 10 games.

We’ve got form: Hatters haven’t the best record at Carrow Road, with their last win coming back in 1996 with a 1-0 victory in the old Division One thanks to Bontcho Guentchev’s penalty.

In FA Cup meetings though, the most famous meeting came back in the 1958-59 semi-final.

The first leg ended 1-1 at White Hart Lane with Scottish international Allan Brown, who later managed the club, on target.

Luton emerged victorious in the replay at St Andrews, winning 1-0 thanks to Irish international Billy Bingham’s goal, although went on to lose the final 2-1 to Nottingham Forest.

Hatters also lost 2-0 at Carrow Road in the FA Cup back in the 1975-76 season, while the only Cup success came at Kenilworth Road in some style with a 6-0 thrashing in the 1927-28 campaign.

In total, Luton have won seven, drawn nine and lost 19 matches at Norwich, scoring 39 goals but conceding 60.

They have won 4-0 on two occasions, in 1938 when Roberts (2), Finlayson and Vinall scored and again in 1961 thanks to efforts from Alec Ashworth (2) Roland Legate, and a Scott own goal.

Town’s biggest defeat is also 4-0 though, suffered in the old Division Three South in 1933.

Last time out: Town let a 2-0 lead slip as they were beaten 3-2 by Norwich in a Championship encounter on August 12, 2006.

Hatters led through Rowan Vine’s 15th minute strike, followed up by Dean Morgan on 52 minutes.

But the Canaries hit back as Darren Huckerby (57), Lee Croft (67) and Robert Earnshaw (71) all netted to earn the hosts three points.

The home side had former Town player Gary Doherty in the side along with former Luton trialist Leon McKenzie, while Hatterss had current goalkeeper Dean Brill on the bench.

Hatters: Marlon Beresford, Kevin Foley, Leon Barnett, Markus Heikkinen (Chris Coyne 46), Sol Davis, Steve Robinson, Richard Langley, Carlos Edwards (Dean Morgan 49), Lewis Emanuel (Adam Boyd 62), Rowan Vine, Warren Feeney.

Subs not used: Russell Perrett, Dean Brill.

Attendance: 23,863.

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