'Fanbase could turn' - Chris Sutton takes aim at 'flaky' Leeds United ahead of Norwich City clash

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Leeds United have done the double over Norwich City but face a fresh challenge in the Championship play-offs.

Chris Sutton has urged his Norwich City side to come flying out of the blocks and take advantage of a Leeds United side low on confidence in the first-leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.

Leeds go to Carrow Road on Sunday with their only hope of an instant return to the Premier League coming via the play-offs. Daniel Farke’s men did brilliantly to put themselves in the mix for a top-two spot earlier in the season but have dropped off a cliff since the March international break and lost three of their last four.

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Norwich are in no form themselves and lost at relegated Birmingham City on Saturday, but know the fresh start of play-off football presents a chance to beat the odds. And Sutton insists a fast Canaries start could prove too much for a Leeds side struggling to find their feet.

“If Norwich City want to win the play-offs and return to the Premier League, there can be no room for any over-caution or fear,” Sutton wrote in his column for the Norwich Evening News. “With the first game against Leeds being at Carrow Road, they have got to come out quickly, flex their muscles and not be fearful. They cannot be cautious or tentative in their approach. 

“There is a greater pressure on Leeds. I used to love playing at Elland Road because of its atmosphere, but that can have a detrimental effect on players because they will be nervous after what's happened at the back end of this season.  If Norwich can take a lead into the second leg, I think the Leeds fanbase could turn and be edgy.

“Leeds have a vulnerability. Norwich can go into it knowing this is a team that has been flaky and they have to prey on that. They got walloped by QPR, Middlesbrough put three past them, Blackburn nicked a win at Elland Road, Coventry beat them, Sunderland got a point against them. Why can't Norwich? That is what they should be saying: 'Why not us? Why not now?'.”

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Leeds will take some confidence knowing they did the double over Norwich during the regular season, with the 3-2 win at Carrow Road in October achieved after being 2-0 down at half-time. Crysencio Summerville was at his brilliant best with two goals that day and Sutton knows the Dutchman must be kept quiet if his side are to progress.

“The wide areas will be a key battleground,” he predicted. “It will be Jack Stacey versus Crysencio Summerville and Sam McCallum or Dimi Giannoulis against Willy Gnonto. Norwich have to win those battles if they want to come through the two legs.”

Following Sunday’s clash, Leeds will welcome Norwich to Elland Road a week on Thursday and the winner of that semi-final will meet one of Southampton or West Brom in the final. All four teams have their own case to go all the way and while Sutton has Southampton as favourites, he knows Farke’s men can beat anyone on their day.

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“I make Southampton favourites for the play-offs,” the former striker added. “I look at their squad and feel it's the strongest. If Leeds do click, they could be devastating. Norwich have their own threats. West Brom have shown a real consistency. Nobody thinks this is going to be easy. 

“I don't think it's a bad time for Norwich to play Leeds—there are going to be doubts in their minds. Whilst they are favourites, it wouldn't surprise me if City got over the line against them.”