With Norwich having performed the seemingly impossible last season, I’ll evaluate how they could fare in the Premier League, as well as giving you an insight into a couple of possible FPL assets for your team.
At the start of last season, Norwich City looked more like a relegation candidate than a side that would eventually go on to take the Championship by storm. They had played 6 games, winding up with 5 points, and had also lost 0-3 to Leeds at Carrow Road.
The main cause of this? Manager Daniel Farke still hadn’t decided on a definitive formation. But once he did, they never looked back.
Expected Line-Ups and Formation
For this season, I believe it is likely that Farke will stick more with the winning formula from last season. That would mean lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the team likely to be as follows:
The full-backs are likely to bomb on down the wings, almost playing as wing-backs at times. Meanwhile, the objective will be to keep possession and play out from the back (which we all know, hasn’t worked for some!).
The addition of Ralf Fahrmann is likely to mean that he replaces the Dutch ‘keeper Tim Krul. Krul’s form did step up towards the end of the season, but Fahrmann is widely regarded as a better shot stopper, with a wealth of experience in both Bundesliga and European competitions.
With the team above, the Canaries don’t have a lot of height in the box for corners. However, these are the players who took the bulk of the set pieces last season:
Corners: Buendia, Vrancic, Stiepermann
Free-kicks: Vrancic, Buendia, McLean, Stiepermann
Penalties: Vrancic, Pukki, Stiepermann
It’s fair to say, however, that a Norwich player shouldn’t be relied on solely for penalty taking. Of the 6 penalties awarded to them in the league last season, only 1 was converted; by Mario Vrancic.
First 10 Fixtures
The Canaries have been given a horror start on paper. They begin away at Champions’ League holders Liverpool, before also hosting Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd in the first 10. Their first 10 fixtures in full are:
Liverpool (a); Newcastle (h); Chelsea (h); West Ham (a); Man City (h); Burnley (a); Crystal Palace (a); Aston Villa (h); Bournemouth (a); Man Utd (h).
Obviously this is going to be a difficult part of the season for Farke’s men. However, if they can build up a bit of momentum in the games after Man City, it is likely that they can avoid the drop.
If they keep conceding cheap goals, like they did at times last season, then their top-flight stay will be short-lived.
FPL – Players to consider
I’m going to start here with the Championship’s top scorer and Player of the Year, Teemu Pukki.
From a goalscoring perspective, I believe he will be hard to ignore this season.
He is the complete striker; he has fantastic work rate, makes runs off the last defender, drops in to contribute to build-up play, and works back at times, as well as closing down the keepers.
I’d say, having watched him last season, that he is one of the most hard-working players in this Norwich squad, and definitely one to have in mind for your teams.
In addition to Pukki, it’s possible that Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis could also fit into an FPL team quite nicely.
As mentioned earlier, these two have a strong tendency to fly forward, overlapping their wingers and fizzing crosses into the box, or sometimes even dribbling in and having a go at goal themselves. Don’t expect too many clean sheets from these two, but anticipate that they will make a splash in terms of attacking contributions.
Finally, I’m looking at Emiliano Buendia.
He was, without doubt, Norwich’s most creative player last season, notching 8 goals and 12 assists in the 38 games he played last season.
He and Onel Hernandez (yes, the Argos one) are both dangerous down the flanks, but for me, Buendia has that final ball that Hernandez lacks at times.
And City’s reliance on Buendia was clear towards the end of the season; he was given a straight red card in their victory over QPR, and Norwich failed to win any of the three games where he wasn’t on the field, drawing them all, in a classic Norwich City fashion; with very late goals.
So on the whole, I think Norwich have the squad to stay up this season. It’s just about whether they manage to keep the belief and team spirit in the squad, and keep certain crucial players fit and suspension-free.