Baggies hopeful of Christmas cheer against the Canaries

West Bromwich Albion v Norwich City; The Hawthorns, Tuesday 26th December 2023, 3pm

Having lost three of their last five games, the Baggies head into Boxing Day needing a victory to ensure they don’t drop out of the top six before the end of the year. Their opponents, Norwich City, have had something of a resurgence of late and are unbeaten in their last six bringing them to the verge of the play-off places – victory for the visitors would see them leapfrog Albion as they sit just two points behind.

Boxing Day has been kind to Albion in recent years, at least in the Championship, and they have won all but one of their second tier fixtures on this day since 2006 including a 2-0 win away to Bristol City last season and a 2-0 home win over Wigan Athletic in 2018. The only such match they didn’t win was a 1-1 draw at Barnsley in 2019.

The defeat at Middlesbrough was a rare disappointing performance under Carlos Corberán, and the Spaniard will hope that his team can bounce back as they did following similarly below par display at Sunderland by winning comfortably at Rotherham United. The Canaries are likely to offer a tougher test than the Millers did, but Albion will have a near sell-out home crowd to get behind them.

As is often the case, the first goal will be crucial. The Baggies came close to it at the Riverside Stadium in a passage of play that saw Bartley hit the post and Furlong direct a powerful header directly at the ‘keeper, and it may have been a different story had the home crowd become restless. That is, of course, something Albion should be very aware of against Norwich – a fast start could be hugely important.

Of course, Corberán has very few options to change personnel given the injury list – anyone taken out of the starting line up from Saturday is likely to come off the bench at some point. Daryl Dike may be fit enough for the bench in the next few games but I’d be surprised if he is ready for Boxing Day.

David Wagner took over at Carrow Road after Dean Smith was sacked almost a year ago when the Canaries were in 5th place in the table. A draw and a defeat under caretaker bosses Allan Russell and Steve Weaver meant that the club were down to 11th by the time the German took control and, while they briefly troubled the top six in early March, one win in the last eleven games of the campaign saw them finish 13th.

A strong start to this season saw them as high as second in late August but just one point from five games in October saw them struggling in the bottom half of the table, but recent results have significantly improved and they are now within the reach of the play-offs. Jonathan Rowe leads Norwich’s goalscoring stats with eleven goals, ten of which have come in the Championship including three in City’s last three games. He generally plays as a number ten behind either Adam Idah or Ashley Barnes, who left Burnley to move to Carrow Road at the end of last season.

The Canaries have been fairly free scoring this season but they have conceded 39 goals, more than any other side in the top half of the Championship and only three clubs in the bottom half have a worse defensive record. Furthermore, only bottom of the table Rotherham United have conceded more than Norwich’s 26 goals on the road. They have conceded three or more goals on six occasions this season (compared to Albion’s one) and no side in the Championship has a worse record in that statistic. However, they have only failed to score in two matches both of which were at Carrow Road.

With a very difficult game against in-form Leeds United to come on Friday, a victory in this match is hugely important. Albion need to produce a performance similar to the one they managed against Ipswich Town last month, a team that Leeds battered 4-0 on Saturday, if they are to claim all three points. Should they fail to win, they will surely drop at least one place having been fortunate to stay in fifth in recent weeks despite dropping eleven points in the last five games

That Ipswich result, and the wins at Cardiff City and Rotherham United are recent enough that Corberán’s team can still draw confidence from them, but everyone needs to raise their game. If they do, three points should be very possible.


Albion retain a healthy head-to-head lead over the Canaries, but they have found it more difficult to better them in recent years, particularly at the Hawthorns. The Baggies’ victory over City in April was only their second in the last seven home games against them with the other win coming in a Premier League fixture in December 2012 – on that occasion, future Baggie, Robert Snodgrass, gave the visitors the lead before Zoltán Gera equalised before half time and Romelu Lukaku scored a late winner to secure the points.

The Baggies first met Norwich City in the FA Cup in 1907 – they won a second round tie at the Hawthorns thanks to a goal from Chippy Simmonds – but didn’t meet in the league until the 1938/39 season when Albion were relegated to Division Two to join the Canaries who had been promoted to the second tier to the first time in 1935. Albion recorded a league double that season with an aggregate score of 7-4 and, with City relegated back to Division Three (South) at the end of the campaign, the clubs would not meet again until they were drawn together in the FA Cup once again in 1969. Norwich were the first opponents for the Baggies in their defence of the trophy they had won the following summer, and they were dispatched with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

The appointment of Ron Saunders as manager in 1969 led to the Second Division Title in 1972 and City were promoted to the Division One setting up the first ever top flight meeting between the sides at Carrow Road in November. It resulted in the first defeat for Albion against the Canaries by a 2-0 scoreline and the Norfolk club followed that up with a 1-0 win at the Hawthorns the following April to secure the league double.

The next meeting was in the little-remembered Texaco Cup in August 1974 at the Hawthorns. City took the lead through Phil Boyer but goals from David Shaw, Tony Brown, Ally Brown, Lyndon Hughes and Willie Johnston saw the Baggies run out 5-1 winners, their best result over Norwich.

That result was matched in a Division One fixture at the Hawthorns in December 1996 when Ian Hamilton and Andy Hunt both scored twice and Paul Peschisolido also found the net – the Baggies were already 5-0 up before future England international Danny Mills was dismissed for the visitors with nine minutes to go but City managed to find a consolation goal through Keith O’Neill.

Norwich City’s previous visit to the Hawthorns had resulted in their best result in B71 in November 1995 – Andy Hunt opened the scoring before goals from Robert Fleck, Keith Scott, Neil Adams and Ashley Ward saw the visitors take the points with a 4-1 victory.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W L L W D L
Norwich City L W D W D W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

29 Apr 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Townsend, Wallace)
Norwich City 1 (Sargent)

Albion’s Record against Norwich City

Overall Home
League 56 24 15 17 75 65 28 13 7 8 37 26
FA Cup 4 3 0 1 6 2 4 3 0 1 6 2
League Cup 5 0 2 3 1 9 2 0 2 0 1 1
Other 1 1 0 0 5 1 1 1 0 0 5 1
Total 66 28 17 21 87 77 35 17 9 9 49 30

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