Category Archives: Norwich City

Sky Bet Championship: The Race for Promotion

The race for promotion to the Premier League is hotting up with only eight games remaining of the regular Sky Bet Championship campaign starting this Saturday.

It’s a three-horse race for the automatic promotion spots with Norwich City, Sheffield United and Leeds United all battling it out for the top two spots in the division.

Leeds and Norwich have been the top two for most of the campaign this year, however, Leeds fell down to third prior to the international break following a 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield United which leaves Marcelo Bielsa’s side one point off the Blades heading into the final eight games of the regular season.

Here I analyse each of the teams chances of automatic promotion this season

Norwich City
The Canaries currently sit five points clear at the top of the table following the win over relegation threatened Rotherham United prior to the break.

Daniel Farke’s worked tremendously well throughout the campaign with a squad which finished 14th in the table last season and he lost key players from that season in the likes of James Maddison, Wes Hoolahan, Josh Murphy and Russell Martin who all played a big part.

Coming into the club is Finland striker Teemu Pukki, signed on a free from Danish outfit Brøndby on a three-year deal, Pukki has really took to life in the Championship scoring 25 goals in the division this season and for me if Norwich are to gain automatic promotion from the Championship the Finnish striker needs to find his scoring boots again towards the end of the campaign.

Remaining Games
30/3 Middlesbrough (A)
6/4 QPR (H)
10/4 Reading (H)
14/4 Wigan (A)
19/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
22/4 Stoke City (A)
27/4 Blackburn Rovers (H)
5/5 Aston Villa (A)

Out of their remaining fixtures I believe if Teemu Pukki finds his goalscoring boots and Norwich win four or more they’ve secured automatic promotion.

Sheffield United
The Blades are currently in second spot behind Norwich City and one point above Leeds United in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 triumph over Leeds United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Chris Wilder has got his side well-drilled and organised this season and the Blades have impressed me quite a lot this season when I’ve seen them, however, I still feel that they lack quality in the midfield and parts of that showed against Leeds prior to the international break.

A number of players have played really well and Wilder has worked his magic as his side finished 14th last season and are now in a three-way battle for automatic promotion.

Wilder has brough in some good players in the summer and January transfer windows including Oliver Norwood and John Egan, however, I believe that Billy Sharp is the Blades key man this season.

The former Doncaster and Leeds striker has netted on 22 occasions this season and has worked brilliantly with either David McGoldrick or Gary Madine alongside him in attack this season.

Remaining Games
30/3 Bristol City (H)
6/4 Preston (A)
10/4 Birmingham (A)
13/4 Millwall (H)
19/4 Nottingham Forest (H)
22/4 Hull City (A)
27/4 Ipswich (H)
5/5 Stoke City (A)

I believe Sheffield United have a chance of promotion, they need to match Leeds United’s results if they have any chance of promotion from the division.

Leeds United
The Whites are currently one point behind Sheffield United in third in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Marcelo Bielsa has got his side play high intensity football and this season it seems to have helped the players who were already at the club from last year and he’s worked tiredlessly to get them playing with the high pressing game for the full 90 minutes.

Bielsa’s sides are known for burning out, however, the Whites don’t seem to be showing this yet this season and it would normally start to show at this point of the season with his previous clubs.

Out of the squad that Bielsa has only Macedonian International Gjanni Alioski has played every minute of games that the club has played in and he’s still going right to the last minute for both club and country this season.

The player of the year so far at Leeds United, for me, is Kalvin Phillips. Phillips is dubbed as the “Yorkshire Pirlo” amongst the Elland Road faithful and has been impressive in his performances in defensive midfield or at centre back in which Bielsa has transformed him into this season.

The Whites have struggled with injuries this campaign otherwise I firmly believe they would be already in the automatic promotion spots heading into the final eight games.

Remaining Games
30/3 Millwall (H)
6/4 Birmingham (A)
9/4 Preston (A)
13/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
19/4 Wigan (H)
22/4 Brentford (A)
27/4 Aston Villa (H)
5/5 Ipswich (A)

I believe that Leeds will just pip Sheffield United to second spot in the table and go up automatically.

Automatic Promotion Predictions: Norwich City and Leeds United
Play-Off Winner Prediction: Sheffield United

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Can the Imps march all the way to the title under the impressive Cowley brothers?

Sitting three points clear at the summit of League Two, Lincoln look good value to go up this year and play at English footballs third tier for the first time this century. With brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley at the helm, the Imps have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success over recent years, and as a result the brothers are one of the hottest managerial duos in the country.

Style of play                                                                                                                                            Lincoln play a fast high tempo style of football, with emphasise on fitness, effort and running. They are also not afraid to mix it up and go long to big strikers John Akinde and Matt Rhead to win flick-ons and work off second balls. The wingers are imperative members of the side, and Bruno Andrade, Shane McCartan and Harry Anderson have all thrived after being given the freedom to express themselves down the flanks. The Cowley’s have flicked between a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 with each system allowing the team to attack in numbers but also are never left over exposed at the back.

Key players:                                                                                                                                Striker John Akinde is an experienced goalscorer at this level and has notched over 20 league goals in two of the last three seasons. The big striker has 13 goals so far this season and is a huge part of the way the Imps play. Being a sharp finisher and a big physical presence, Akinde is the perfect League Two striker.

22 year old winger Harry Anderson is enjoying the best campaign of his career so far, missing only three league games this season. With seven goals and six assists the pacy winger has bossed the league this season, and received attention from teams higher up the pyramid with Norwich reportedly tracking his progress.

Signing experienced defender Jason Shackell in the summer was a big coup for Lincoln, and the defender has shown his class since dropping down to the fourth tier for the first time in his career. The centre half has been a revelation in Lincolnshire at both ends of the pitch, being a huge part of the third best defence in the league as well as chipping in with five goals at the other end.

Performance this season:                                                                                                                  Lincoln have had an exceptional season so far, only losing four league games up to the start of March and are only nine points off of their final points total from last season, despite having played 12 less games. Picking up huge wins over title challengers Bury (2-1) and MK Dons (2-1) as well as impressive results over Port Vale (4-0) Exeter (3-0) and Swindon (4-1). In many respects Lincoln have sacrificed the cup competitions to focus all their attention on the league campaign. Crashing out of the EFL Trophy in the group stages and the EFL Cup in the second round, however they did reach the third round of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 2-1 to Everton.

Form last 5: DDDWD                                                                                                                          Lincoln have drew four of their last five games picking up seven points in the process. 1-1 draws with rock bottom Notts County and lower mid table side Northampton were followed by a 2-2 draw with play off chasing Stevenage . They then beat Morecambe away and drew with Exeter to end the month of February undefeated but haing given up considerable ground to second place Bury.

Run in:                                                                                                                                                    The Imps have a fairly tough run in facing Mk Dons, Carlisle, Tranmere and Colchester all of which are currently in or around the play offs, mixed in with potentially winnable games against the likes of Cheltenham and Newport. Fans will be hoping Lincoln will be in a strong position come April and will not be desperately looking to pick up points at the back end of the season to secure promotion.

Prediction:                                                                                                                                              Under the Cowley brothers Lincoln are a dangerous team with a winning mentality. Despite them enduring somewhat of a poor run of form as of late, Lincoln should be aiming for at the very least automatic promotion, and will have one eye on claiming the league title.

 

Canaries flying high what’s changed at Norwich City?

The change in Norwich City’s fortunes this season has been staggering, a 14th place finish last year said it all, neither coming or going, middle of the road.

Murmurings of discontent over manager Daniel Farke could be heard in and outside of Carrow Road on match days, sales of City youth prospects Josh and Jacob Murphy and star player James Maddison to the Premier league contributed to much needed funds but added to some canary fans ire of Farke.

So what’s changed?

It’s Farke’s second season in charge and he’s now had 2 summer transfer windows to get ‘his’ players in and also for those players to understand and fully implement the Germans philosophy, the exciting brand of attacking football hasn’t always worked in the past but is now in full force.

The yellows now have total belief that they can win any game and come back from any deficit at any time, the incredible games against Millwall, Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and most recently Bristol City showed the resilience they have.

The staggering form of new signing Teemu Pukki has been a major factor in city’s form this season, the Finn was signed on a free transfer from Danish side Brondby in what now looks like best signing in the championship this season, his 23 goals so far see Pukki top of the championship scoring chart and how important some of those goals have been to get Norwich to the top of the league.

The performances of Norwich City full backs Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons have allowed City to attack from defence. Consistent top drawer and reliable performances have also attracted the attention of Premier League sides and if to be believed in the case of the Aarons a certain Premier League chasing Tottenham Hotspur.

In midfield the emergence of Marco Stiepermann has been a huge bonus, and the dazzling displays of tricky Cuban born German winger Onel Hernandez mixed with his terrific ability to link up with Teemu Pukki have seen many great moments and goals for the canaries fans. Big game displays from German Moritz leitner and Bosnian star Mario vrancic have pushed City forward in the middle of the park, the Bosnian was labeled “my Mario Gotze” by current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during their time together at German club Mainz.

Speaking to a lifelong Norwich City fan Tom Dunbar, there are 2 other talents he believes deserve credit for their excellent outings this season, Centre Half Ben Godfrey and Dereham born Todd Cantwell, the latter of which Dunbar says is “one of the players of the season” for City, and it’s hard to disagree, the City youth player has been a revelation since making his debut this season.

With all these elements along with shrewd management and total faith and belief in everything Farke does, Norwich have an exciting final push for Premier League promotion ahead and one the yellows faithful will be cheering on rapidly from the famous Barclay end snake pit.

On the ball City!…

Wayne Edge @oasis1711

Is this wonderkid set to move to London this summer?

According to reports in the Mirror Online Norwich City wonderkid, James Maddison could be set to swap East Anglia for the capital this summer, with both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea chasing the 21 year-olds signature.

The central midfielder has been in impressive form this season scoring 14 goals in all competitions and providing 10 assists for his teammates. With this rich vein of form, the ‘Canaries’ are looking for a fee in the region of £25m for Maddison and with Norwich looking like they’re going to have another season in the Championship the lure of Premier League football may be hard to resist for Maddison.

Tottenham have a history of plucking young talent from the Football League with Dele Alli joining the club from Milton Keynes Dons for £5m in 2014, and also they promote from within with the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters and Josh Onomah been given their first team debuts in recent seasons.

Chelsea, on the other hand, could be too much to resist as like Tottenham they are consistently in the mix for major trophies every season and with the clubs average squad age of 27.7 years, the ninth highest in the Premier League the club may look to bring in young talent and Maddison fits the bill perfectly.

If the Norwich midfielder continues in the form he is in between now and the end of the season, then it will be more than just Tottenham and Chelsea in for him, but one thing is for sure that the ‘Canaries’ will be looking for as much money as possible for their starman.

Tottenham and Chelsea fans which club should sign Maddison this summer and why? Norwich fans would you like to see Maddison stay at Carrow Road and develop with your club? Let us know in the comments section…

Premier League One-Season Wonders- Where are they now?

With fans of the Premier League being treated to the delight of Mo Salah this season, one can only hope, similarly to Harry Kane’s inaugural season, that it continues to the next.  We know of course that despite the wonderful football of the Egyptian, there is always the possibility he could be one of the many one-season wonders we have seen over the years in the Premier League. So lets have it, who are the most notable? And where are they now? 

Michu (Swansea City) 

First up, the Spanish forward who flew onto the Premier League scene in 2012 and for a fee of just £2 million it was considered an absolute bargain when the goals came in. It wasn’t like he was completely unheard of; he spent the previous season with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga netting 15 goals.

His first season in the Premier League saw him score 18 goals and help Swansea to 9th in the table, winning the League Cup in the process.

He fell out of favour in the next season, went on loan to Napoli and failed to make more than three appearances and now after spells at Langreo and Oviedo he is now retired at 31.

Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers)

Good old Roque.

He is probably the poster boy of one season wonders.

Santa Cruz was seen as a fairly decent signing for Blackburn in 2007 bringing a wealth of experience from Bayern Munich but did better than some may have tipped him to when he banged in 19 goals in his debut Premier League season.

This led to much transfer speculation around the Paraguayan in the following year which may have affected his form and he only managed 4 goals in 20 appearances and was eventually shipped off to Manchester City for £25 million.

It is fair to say that is as far as his career went and he now plays back in his native Paraguay.

Benjani (Portsmouth)

What a bizarre situation this was.

15 goals in 23 appearances led to Sven Goran Eriksson putting in a £9 million bid for the Zimbabwean forward and Harry Redknapp could not believe his luck.

One problem however, Benjani did not want the move at all, bit of a problem really.

Nonetheless, Benjani made it on the plane to Manchester after being pushed on it by Harry and his career was ended on that moment.

Asomoah Gyan (Sunderland)

The Ghanaian arrived at the Stadium of Light for a whopping £13 million in 2010 and excited the Tyne and Wear crowd with his celebrations and goals.

After just a season however, he decided to triple his salary and head to the United Arab Emirates.

Who can blame him?

Here he is doing bits for Ghana:

https://twitter.com/aliahusseiniq/status/881280013903040513

Grant Holt (Norwich City)

He may be a bit of a one-season wonder but it is a great story with Grant Holt.

Holt jumped from League Two in 08/09 with Shrewsbury to League One with Norwich and then all the way to the Premier League within 4 seasons.

His first season in the Premier League ended with 15 goals and serious talk of an England call-up but it wasn’t meant to be for Holt and after an average second season he was shipped out to Wigan.

Grant Holt now plays his trade as a player-coach for Barrow in the National League.