Premier League preview: Southampton v Norwich
By Football News
The last time Southampton and Norwich played against each other in the Premier League, both sides were relegated less than a month later.
It has been almost eight years since the two teams last met in a top-flight encounter at St Mary's in April 2005, in a seesawing match that saw Henri Camara score an 88th-minute winner for Southampton in a 4-3 win.
However, by May 15, both sides found themselves in the Championship as they were relegated on the final day of the season, a round of matches that saw West Bromwich Albion dramatically stave off relegation with victory over Portsmouth.
While both sides were struggling in early 2005, this time around, they head into this encounter as two of the form teams.
Southampton may have struggled to start the season as they came up against a series of high-profile opponents, but they are unbeaten in their past three games and won their last two, including Sunday's impressive 2-0 victory over Newcastle.
In that game, former Southampton coach Alan Pardew's Newcastle outfit produced one of their poorer games of the season as Adam Lallana opened the scoring before setting up Gaston Ramirez for the second.
"We scored two, but could have scored some more. The crowd were great, the players were great and we got a clean sheet," Southampton manager Nigel Adkins told the Daily Mail.
"We've been progressing all the way through. Last week I spoke about a growing maturity about the group of players and I think we're progressing well.
"Our confidence has been good since the start of pre-season, but you've got to get yourself ready as quickly as possible to reach the level the Premier League is at."
Norwich, if anything, are in an even richer vein of form, with their last defeat against Chelsea on November 6.
They were fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at Everton on the weekend, however, as Sebastien Bassong scored an 88th-minute equaliser thanks largely to a Tim Howard error.
That goal has led to Bassong allegedly being subjected to racist insults on Twitter, reports that English police are investigating.
However, Norwich have a more pressing match-day issue relating to in-form goalkeeper John Ruddy, who faces an extended period on the sidelines after suffering a thigh strain at Everton.
Harry Kane (ankle) and Chris Martin (back) will be available for a match that will also be noteworthy with referee Mark Clattenburg making his comeback as a fourth official after being cleared of racially abusing Chelsea's John Obi Mikel.