Norwich City’s Alex Neil is ready to pay the price at Manchester City

Norwich manager Alex Neil is ready for what lies in store at Manchester City. Picture by Paul Cheste

Norwich manager Alex Neil is ready for what lies in store at Manchester City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil would pay to watch Manchester City but the Norwich City boss has no intention of swapping his front row seat as he aims to spring a major upset at the Etihad.

The Canaries will try to halt the rampant Premier League leaders, who even without mercurial injured duo David Silva and Sergio Aguero, present a daunting test.

'For anyone who loves entertaining, attacking football it is fantastic to watch,' he said. 'Them and Arsenal do it as well as anyone. As a spectator or a fan of football that is what you want to see. Then again, it is quite easy to set-up that way when you have £500m of talent to use. There are probably two teams in this league who are relentless, in terms of when a lot of other teams score they settle for popping it about, but Manchester City and probably Arsenal, don't stop going forward at any stage.

'I think the fact Aguero and Silva are not playing is an advantage, there is no question about that, but they have others to come who are top international players bought for vast amounts of money.

'I think the Champions League game they have next week could also have a bearing. Certainly for me I would have one eye on that one, as I'm sure he will, so they might chose to freshen it up a little bit.

'Hopefully they do, but anyone can beat on their day.'

West Ham proved the point with a rare triumph at the Etihad this season and Neil has done his homework on that Hammers' victory.

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'West Ham managed to go and get a result and we played very well against West Ham and should have probably won that match so there is no reason we can't go and give a good account of ourselves and pick up a positive result,' he said. 'I watched that Manchester City, West Ham game so I know exactly what they did and how well they did it. They also had to ride their luck because Manchester City had chances. We know our approach will be slightly different than it has been recently. We will have to err more on the side of caution but at the same time look to cause them as many problems as we can going forward. That is not easy.'

Much of the focus is on Norwich's defensive resolve this afternoon, but Neil feels the outcome may hinge on their ability in possession.

'If your ball retention is slack then obviously that transition, in terms of them getting it back and hurting you, is going to be highly likely,' he said. 'It really depends on that first or second pass about how expansive you can be because as soon as you gain possession you want to make the pitch wide to give yourself a better chance of retaining the ball. It is something we have worked on and spoken about but it's decided on the day by the players. If the ball retention isn't good then we will find ourselves restricted.'