Norwich head coach Dean Smith has called on his side to play their own game at Leeds and pile the pressure on Jesse Marsch by inflicting a third straight defeat on their new manager.
The 48-year-old American is looking to save Leeds from the drop. He arrives as a replacement for iconic boss Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine will live long in the memory of Leeds fans, though results on the pitch had taken a startling nosedive this season. That said, he will forever be revered, leaving Marsch with near-impossible shoes to fill.
His first two games, however, have not gone well. Leeds were unlucky to lose Marsch’s first match – a 1-0 setback at Leicester. However, they were not at the races in his second match in charge, a woeful 3-0 home loss to Aston Villa.
That woeful run of form has left them just two points above the drop zone.
And it all means there is a lot at stake when fellow strugglers Norwich arrive at Elland Road on Sunday.
Marsch is urged his men to be brave and keep faith with their own game plan.
Smith, meanwhile, insists that, no matter what tactics Marsch might decide to deploy, his squad must pay attention to their own game plan.
Furthermore, Smith is hopeful he can return to Norfolk with three points in the bag.
“He has only had two games in charge, so will be getting little messages across to the team in terms of what he needs,” Smith said.
“But the key for us is concentrating on ourselves rather than the opposition. We need to make sure that we put in the kind of performance which we did in the second half against Chelsea.”
Dean Smith looking to crank up pressure on Leeds
Smith added: “What is moving in the right direction is the quality of chances that we are creating and we should be taking more of those.”
Marsch felt his team played with an element of fear against Villa, as the Elland Road faithful got rather restless.
Smith believes Norwich must look to utilise any opportunity to crank up the pressure on the hosts.
“Their support is fantastic and it is a real tough place to go. But we have to silence the Leeds United fans as much as we can,” the Canaries boss said.
“We can do that by keeping the ball, by playing in their half and by taking advantage of set-pieces as well.
“It is going to be a tough game, but they are on a losing run and confidence is such a big thing in football.
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“The players will be following a game plan, but it has to be about us going forward, what we can do and how we can hurt the opposition.”
Teemu Pukki looking for Norwich response
Dean Smith started with a back five against Chelsea, who romped into a 2-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes.
Norwich switched formations again at half-time, with Milot Rashica one of those making an impact from the bench.
Teemu Pukki reduced the deficit from the penalty spot, before Kai Havertz settled any Chelsea nerves with a third goal in stoppage time.
Finland forward Pukki feels Norwich can take heart from their efforts after such a poor start.
“It is a big game on Sunday, so we need to take the self-confidence from the second half into that game,” Pukki said on the club website.
“I think we showed that we can play on this level and we have what it takes. We just need to do that for the 90 minutes on Sunday.”