Norwich dreaming of United upset
Norwich manager Paul Lambert is eyeing a shock victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday as he returns to the scene of one of his most memorable nights as a player.
Fourteen years ago, Lambert was a member of the Borussia Dortmund side which stunned United in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League before going on to lift the title with victory over Juventus in the final. Now Lambert is hoping the Canaries can emulate his 1997 feat as the promoted side look to build on the confidence generated by back-to-back wins over Bolton and Sunderland.
Lambert has urged Norwich not to be overawed by the occasion. "I hear people say go and enjoy it but you can only enjoy it if you go and can hold your own," Lambert said. "In my view, Manchester United are probably the best team in Britain at the minute and along with Barcelona one of the best teams in Europe.
"That is the magnitude of our achievement in getting into this league. No-one is going to expect us to win anything there. The lads will love the atmosphere and the stadium and we'll go up there and give it everything we've got."
Norwich winger Elliott Bennett said his team-mates were determined to give a good account of themselves. "It's a massive opportunity for all of us to show how far we've come," the 22-year-old said.
"When you start out playing football you want to play in big stadiums in front of all those people. That's what you play football for, it's the 'Theatre of Dreams' for a reason," he added, referring to the nickname for United's famous ground.
City aim to forget off-field troubles
While league leaders United are entertaining Norwich, cross-town rivals Manchester City will aim to put a turbulent week behind them when they travel to Ewood Park to face struggling Blackburn Rovers. City's largely impressive start to the season was given its first major test on Tuesday with a 2-0 Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich and the extraordinary apparent refusal of Carlos Tevez to appear as a substitute.
Tevez was swiftly suspended, while City manager Roberto Mancini also took a dim view of Edin Dzeko's histrionics following the Bosnian's substitution in the same match. Dzeko has since apologised but was expected to be dropped to the bench on Saturday as City attempt to keep pace with United, who they trail on goal difference.
Other matches this weekend include the latest instalments of two of the Premier League's fiercest rivalries, with Everton taking on Liverpool in the Merseyside derby on Saturday and Tottenham facing north London rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Sunday. For Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, Saturday's trip to Goodison will be his first return to the ground as Reds boss since he quit in his first stint at Anfield 20 years ago.
An emotionally exhausted Dalglish resigned from Liverpool in February 1991, just days after a tumultuous 4-4 draw with Everton in the FA Cup. Although the fortunes of both clubs have faded in the two decades since that match, Dalglish is adamant the rivalry on Merseyside remains as fierce as ever.
"The competition is still as intense and the desire to win is the same as before," said the Liverpool manager. "I don't think it has devalued - it doesn't matter how long ago it was you have been involved or not or how recently. It is a Merseyside derby and like everyone who has been involved in it they think it is the most important one."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has meanwhile refused to write off Arsenal's title chances following the Gunners' disappointing start to the season. Arsenal are yet to win away from home this season, and have struggled to convince in home victories against Swansea and Bolton following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
However Redknapp has dismissed the suggestion that Arsenal are unlikely to be challenging for the title or a top four spot. "I would not write Arsenal off. If you write Arsenal off in your newspaper you could be made to eat all those words," he said. "They are a good side with a great manager."