We take the sights to the standings of Allsvenskan and find Norrkoping on a fourth position, which nobody could really see coming. It is an impressive record for a predicted mid team but they have made an exceptional job to win games even when the performances have stumbled. Mostly, this have happened due to individual skill from the striker duo Emir Kujovic and Christoffer Nyman who have scored eleven goals combined after only ten rounds. The hosts have now gone six competitive matches without a loss, winning five of these against various opponents both on the road and at home.
Norrkoping are really on fire and seem to get the points they need every game, though the performances might not appear impressive and not always seem deserved. Lately, the hosts are coming from some dirty narrow 1-0 victories against Sundsvall and Hammarby which surely shows some strength, and more impressively – two consecutive clean sheets. Norrkoping are not associated with defensive minded football, especially not these days when the confidence is above the clouds and the combination of two dangerous strikers who are in superb form. The team played a tough away game in Sundsvall four days ago, 500 kilometers from their home which ended in a victory. After traveling 1000 kilometers in one-two days, the mindset is now to carry the momentum into the artificial home field to take on a tricky roller coaster Kalmar side who seem to have woken up from their slow start.
The hosts Norrkoping have a pretty pleasant situation squad wise, with only midfielder Nicklas Barkroth (1/0) who is out due to a long-term injusyr but is slowly starting to train with the team again. The only certain absentee along with the above, is midfielder Filip Dagerstal (4/1). All in all, a good situation for Norrkoping.
We will continue to see the typical Norrkoping style of play, with very quck transition and high pressure all over the field, where they look to get balls inside of the penalty area as much as possible for Emir Kujovic and Christoffer Nyman to work on. It has been a winning method so far, so why stop?
The opponents, Kalmar began the season on a slow note despite being pretty hyped in the beginning due to some super signings which automatically put a contender label on the team. However, time have shown that this is more of a statement season for Kalmar who normally should finish on the upper half just around the Europa League positions in the standings. Lately though, the real side of Kalmar have started to show, and the team should be filled with confidence after their triumph against Malmo where they turned 0-1 into a 2-1 victory. There is a harmony in the squad now who seems to be more relaxed on the field, coming from two straight victories while scoring five goals in these victories. The team performs well with confidence and that is significant for Kalmar who are generally very good at keeping games close and avoid to be dominated, no matter if it is a superior opponent. We could see this happen when Malmo tried to dictate previously but Kalmar showed that they do not accept it to happen for longer stretches.
It is worth to mention that Kalmar have not lost to Norrkoping since 2012, so this is one of their favorite opponents in a traditional sense. Trends are meant to be broken sometimes but the power of tradition is not easy to wreck.
Injury wise for the visitors, wing back Emin Nouri (9/0), forward Par Ericsson (8/0), midfielder Tobias Eriksson (10/2) and winger Filip Sachpekidis (7/1) are all set to miss the match. Midfielder Rasmus Elm will remain out as well and he is yet to feature for Kalmar this season.
Those are some inconvenience absences for Kalmar, though the replacements are very natural and therefore do not alter the chemistry or philosophy in the game plan. Ismael Silva Lima is a calm midfielder who will go in on the midfield instead of Tobias Eriksson, while Papa Diouf is a natural replacement for Filip Sachpekidis on the wing. The offensive threats will remain dangerous with the Elm brothers Viktor and David, who have combined for 5 goals.
The opening minutes can be crucial here, with Norrkoping who will begin with most possession and try to come on strong. Kalmar are used to this from playing against similar teams such as Elfsborg who also plays on artificial and very offensive minded. They only lost 2-1 in that game despite a stumbling form, and it might look similar to that in this encounter. Taking no credit away from Norrkoping for their strong start, this is a matchup which do not suit them well due to Kalmars discipline compared to many teams. Norrkoping will face a patient opponent who are in the middle of their groove and finally performing well. With the offensive approach Norrkping enters with, expect Kalmar to find their scoring chances too with the counters. Normally these are two even teams, perhaps Kalmar have a slight edge squad wise, but the current hype of Norrkoping have set the odds the way they are. Nearly 4.00 on Kalmar is a huge over reaction, and even though they might not win, I find enough reasons to see a close game where Kalmar will reach at least a point against one of their favorite opponents.
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