Tag Archives: Norwich City

Premier League Review

I am starting this week’s review with the match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night because it had a big talking point.

The game finished 1-1 with goals from Anthony Martial and a trademark long range effort by Ruben Neves. The result itself was interesting enough as its evidence that Wolves aren’t far away from the top six.

The talking point came when United were awarded a penalty with the score at 1-1 and last week’s scorer of a penalty Marcus Rashford went into conversation with Paul Pogba. The result of the chat resulted in Pogba taking the penalty and then subsequently having the spot kick well saved.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the game that the penalty duties are being shared between Rashford and Pogba and that “whoever feels confident on the day” should take it. This for me is a risky and strange policy as it adds an unnecessary seed of doubt and pressure to the taker, which showed its force again in United’s next match on Saturday, More on that later.

Moving onto Saturday’s roundup which I am starting at Anfield where the only two teams with 100% records in the league went head to head as Liverpool faced Arsenal.

Liverpool were controlling much of the possession and territory but Arsenal created good openings on the break from record signing Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In the process, interestingly, Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil Van Dijk breaking a record that has stood for well over a year, no mean feat. It has also become more evident that Liverpool are not performing as well in defence without Allison in goal and his deputy Adrian almost cost them another goal, as just like last weekend, one of his clearances went straight to the Gunners but luckily for him, Aubameyang, uncharacteristically, lacked composure.

Despite all of this, Liverpool’s territorial advantage paid off with them taking the lead through a Joel Matip’s header just before half-time.

After the break, David Luiz cost Arsenal any hopes, by first tugging Mohammad Salah’s shirt in the penalty area, with Salah himself scoring the penalty. It was the Egyptian once again who embarrassed Luiz by the touchline as the Brazilian needlessly dived in and Salah chipped the ball over him before running to the edge of the box and superbly curling into the bottom corner just before the hour. This ended the contest, although Arsenal did get a late consolation through Lucas Torreira.

The result means Liverpool are the only side in England with a 100% record and continues Arsenals poor record at Liverpool, however they can take something from the chances they created.

Now back to Manchester United who were playing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, a venue where Palace hadn’t won since 1989.

United were dominant as expected, but couldn’t find the break through and Palace broke after 32 minutes which left Jordan Ayew one-on-one with David De Gea, who silenced the crowd by coolly slotting home.

There was yet more United penalty drama in the second-half when they were awarded a spot kick when Scott McTominay was bundled over. Everyone waited to see who would take the kick following Monday’s drama and this time it was back to Marcus Rashford.

However, he suffered the same fate as Pogba seeing his penalty cannon off the inside of the post. This only further strengthens my argument that Solskjaer’s method is an incorrect one. United continued to push and found an equaliser through summer signing Daniel James, who scored in consecutive home matches by curling in a delightful equaliser in the 89th minute following Pogba’s good tackle on Wilfred Zaha and with a neat build-up from Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The Red Devil’s thought they could still win it but were caught with too many players forward allowing Zaha to burst forward and find full-back, Patrick van Aanholt, who netted the winner in the 93rd minute, thumping in as the ball broke loose.

The result means United have picked up just one point from the last two matches and are showing they may struggle to get into the top four once again, a thought I had in pre-season.

Chelsea and Frank Lampard headed to Carrow Road to face a vibrant and confident Norwich side following their 3-1 win over Newcastle United looking for their first win of the season and Lampard’s first as a Premier League manager. Lampard continued to show faith in striker, Tammy Abraham and his decision paid off with the youngster scoring two excellent goals to open his Chelsea account. The first came after just three minutes, however, it didn’t take long for Norwich to hit back though, as just three minutes later, Todd Cantwell latched onto Teemu Pukki’s cut back.

Chelsea restored their lead 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net for his second goal of the season.

In a frantic first half Norwich equalised again and it was no surprise that it was Pukki, who scored his fifth goal of the season. Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence; Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.

Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul.

The Blues thought they had scored again when Kurt Zouma poked a loose ball home, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper, Tim Krul.

Lampard now has his all-important first win as Chelsea boss and will be looking to build on this victory.

Watford against West Ham is a match between two sides hoping to challenge in the top half of the league table.

However, only one of the two sides looked like they had that in them in this match at Vicarage Road and that was West Ham.

They have some terrific creative midfielders and their record signing striker, Sebastien Haller scored his first two goals for the Hammers as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Mark Noble’s third-minute penalty set West Ham on their way to their first win of the season after Manuel Lanzini had been fouled by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Watford responded with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass.

It was then Haller who took centre stage as he led the line in exemplary fashion and contributed to all three West Ham goals. He displayed his predatory instincts that allowed him to comfortably claim his first goal for Manuel Pellegrini’s side before acrobatically doubling his tally.

Watford did create plenty of chances mainly through Gerard Deulofeu who had seven shots on goal, with only a close-range strike that hit the West Ham crossbar finding the target, alongside Hughes’ extraordinary miss from a yard out after Gray had squared the ball with the score at 1-1, that summed up the hosts’ lack of potency in attack.

At the other end the presence of Haller, Anderson and Lanzini provided too much power, pace and guile for the Watford defence to cope with. Gracia’s side now face a challenging sequence of fixtures – with a home game against Arsenal sandwiched between trips to Newcastle and reigning champions Manchester City – having shipped 41 goals in their last 18 matches.

At the same stage last term Watford had collected nine points after an impressive start, but a pointless return this time around represents a complete reversal of fortune.

Sheffield United were looking to back up their first win back in the top flight but came up against a Leicester City side that were just too good for them on the day.

Ayoze Perez robbed defender Chris Basham before James Maddison played a deft pass with the outside of his foot into space, allowing Jamie Vardy to race in and power home left footed. Vardy – a boyhood Sheffield Wednesday fan – had been booed throughout and duly cupped his ears in celebration. Billy Sharp and McBurnie’s second half introduction seemed to raise home spirits and suddenly Leicester’s midfield seemed unable to close spaces as quickly. It was Oliver McBurnie, who scored the equaliser from Sam Baldock’s pin-point delivery – proving why the Blades paid Swansea £20m for the striker.

They were level for just eight minutes, however, as substitute, Harvey Barnes, scored a marvellous winner six minutes after coming on, Barnes fired a half-volley from the edge of the box which flew past home keeper Dean Henderson.

Saturday’s final match saw a south coast derby as Brighton met Southampton, Brighton have started the season impressively, whilst Southampton headed into the encounter pointless and this showed in the early stages as Neil Maupay and Martin Montoya both had chances.

However, the game swung the visitors’ way when Florin Andone was dismissed following a rash challenge that left Yan Valery withering in agony near the halfway line. A challenge that Brighton manager Graham Potter said he “can’t defend”.

The Seagulls responded well, initially, with Lewis Dunk’s header chalked off by VAR, but the Saints capitalised on their numerical advantage in the second half. They took the lead through Moussa Djenepo, who came on as a substitute eight minutes into the second half and his impact was almost instant, cutting in from the left and curling into the top corner just two minutes after entering the fray.

A late Nathan Redmond goal secured the points for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Onto Sunday’s matches and a Tottenham Hotspur side buoyed by gaining a point at Manchester City took on a Newcastle United side with no points and were embarrassed by Norwich last weekend, surely this could only end one way. In fact, Newcastle looked like a completely different team from last weekend, credit to Steve Bruce for that, they were superb in defence and caused Spurs problems on the counter attack.

It was from one of these counters that they took a surprise lead through record signing Joelinton, this his first goal since joining. Spurs were caught with too many players forward and Joelinton controlled Christian Atsu’s through pass beautifully before drilling past Hugo Lloris.

Spurs enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but couldn’t find the creativity to unlock an excellent back five of Newcastle.

Cristian Eriksen and Giovani lo Celso, both started on the bench and came on together after an hours to try and add this creativity.

Lo Celso, nearly made the difference with a pass to Harry Kane in the penalty area and Kane went down under a challenge by Jamal Lascelles.

The Newcastle defender appeared to slip and dive across Kane, as he knew he had no chance of getting to the ball, clever or reckless the referee and the VAR decided it wasn’t a penalty.

Spurs created more opportunities the best of which fell to Lucas Moira, who shot over from eight yards after being found by former Newcastle player Moussa Sissoko, who was unsurprisingly roundly booed throughout by the toon army crowd.

Spurs couldn’t find a way through and from evidence of this and other weekend results we could be heading towards another two horse race for the title.

There was a meeting between the last two sides to finish 7th in the league at Molineux, where Burnley were the visitors to Wolves.

It was the Clarets who were the more effective side and eventually took the lead through an excellent strike from Ashley Barnes, his fourth goal in three Premier League games this season.

Burnley were denied a second goal when Rui Patricio produced an excellent save to keep out Chris Wood, while Ben Mee headed against the bar with the rebound coming off Wolves defender Ryan Bennett and hitting the post.

However, Wolves were awarded a penalty in the dying moments when Erik Pieters fouled Raul Jimenez.

After a video assistant referee check, Jimenez stepped up to calmly roll the ball past Nick Pope and earn Wolves a third successive Premier League draw.

Despite this lacklustre performance from Wolves, I wouldn’t be worried that they are set to suffer like Burnley did last season in the league due to being in European Competition.

The Final Match of the weekend was a routine win for champions Man City away at Bournemouth. Another goal apiece for Aguero and Sterling meant they lead 2-0 at half time. Bournemouth rallied and substitute Harry Wilson’s superb 25-yard free-kick raised hopes of a fight-back, However Aguero pounced for City’s third after good work from Silva. Wilsons strike means he has scored two stunners in his two first premier league matches.

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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

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…