Contributor Jess, season ticket holder at Norwich, breaks down the home games in depth, providing key insights from their matches at Carrow Road from an FPL perspective
Norwich 3-1 Newcastle
Goals: Pukki (3); Shelvey.
Assists: Cantwell (2); Longstaff.
With this performance, the Canaries have well and truly put down their statement of intent for the league season to come.
Obviously, Teemu Pukki stole the show, with his hat-trick propelling Norwich into a 3-0 lead, before a late consolation from Jonjo Shelvey.
However, there was so much more than just Pukki’s goals that made this performance one for the Carrow Road faithful to remember for years to come.Embed from Getty Images
Norwich City came absolutely flying out of the traps, instantly playing a brilliant blend of attacking and possession football.
The attacking nature of their full backs was enough to always ensure they had a man over on either side, especially when both Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell seemed to have free roles, instead of their billed roles on the wings.
This enabled City to drag Newcastle’s flat back 5 around brilliantly, leaving them all looking lost when Norwich approached on the attack.
And on 32 minutes, the Canaries made the most of their work picking apart their opponents, as Teemu Pukki fired home a beautiful volley at the back post. Dubravka got a touch, but realistically was never going to be able to stop it from going in.
City then continued to pile on the heat until half time, to go in with a well-deserved lead.
Newcastle did have a couple of half-chances in the first half, with Joelinton heading just wide from a cross by Isaac Hayden, and Matt Richie having a tame effort from range saved easily by Tim Krul.
The Magpies did apply some pressure at the start of the second half, but this was quickly stopped by Norwich, who then regained their form from the first half, and from there, could not be stopped.
Todd Cantwell came storming through the Toon defence, before offloading to Teemu Pukki on the edge of the area, to his left. The Finn took a touch, and drilled it, right-footed, into Dubravka’s bottom right corner.
So with the Finn on a hat-trick, just 12 minutes after his second, he delivered.Embed from Getty Images
Marco Stiepermann played a slick ball through to Cantwell, who turned to the right, left it for Pukki who was running the other way, and the Championship top scorer slotted it past the keeper with unbelievable composure.
And even at a hat-trick, his work never seemed done, as he tried for even more goals against the vulnerable Geordies.
Added to this, Pukki’s defensive work rate was exceptional, and his ability to drop in and help the build up play would be enough for me to say that he is the complete striker.
On the face of it, the Magpies really didn’t offer a huge amount in this game, and certainly offered less than a few teams who didn’t come up from the Championship last season.
With the performance they turned in, even the consolation goal glorifies them. It came as a result of some tired-looking defending from the Canaries, with Max Aarons being beaten all too easily by Jonjo Shelvey, before the former Liverpool man curled it into the net at the River End.Embed from Getty Images
Of course, Teemu Pukki was the one to take the majority of the praise after the match, including from his manager, Daniel Farke:
Teemu was great today, without any doubt. Not only with his goals, but also with his capability to link the play, to work for this team…
This reference to linking the play is not exclusive to his time in the Premier League. As an FPL asset, he certainly has the potential, not only to get goals, but to register assists as well.
Some say “he’s only a Norwich striker”, or “he won’t keep the form up” or even “his fixtures look very tough”. But let me just convince people why he’s a genuine option:
a) Norwich definitely thrive on the support they get at Carrow Road, and they also haven’t lost there since the end of December (and in abnormal circumstances at that, with a light failure temporarily delaying the game against Derby). When the supporters are behind the team, the away side certainly know about it.
b) Chelsea’s defenders, and Kepa, look scared of the ball. Especially Kurt Zouma. I know 3 competitive games is a small sample size, but this really has been a problem for the Frenchman since pre-season.
And for Christensen and Kepa, even longer than that. Both have always really looked tetchy on the ball for the duration of their time in the first team. Kepa’s frailties were exposed once again as recently as the Leicester match, where Vardy nearly dispossessed him and scored in the first half.
“Why bring this up?”, you may ask. Well, Pukki thrives on closing down defenders and goalkeepers, and it’s very common for him to cause more than a few nerves for the opposition back line, while they try to keep possession.Embed from Getty Images
But aside from the Finn, there were some other marvellous performances. Todd Cantwell (aka the Dereham Messi) deserves much more than an honourable mention for his brilliant work in providing two assists in the match, and also for his shot from very close range, which was saved smartly by Martin Dubravka.
At just £4.6m, it really is hard for me to see why he isn’t in everybody’s team. Especially given he should start every week for a long while, now Hernandez is out, and he has effectively got a free role, allowing him to create chances to his heart’s content, in a system which champions attacking football.Embed from Getty Images
On the subject of £4.5m midfielders, it looks like Moritz Leitner has nailed down his own regular spot in the team, alongside Tom Trybull deep in the midfield. While his purpose is more to start moves off, he is a good option for assists, because of his range of passing.
Defensively, City did look nice and solid until the dying embers of the game, but putting the goal aside, I think they did quite well. Ben Godfrey really was the star of the defence again, but Grant Hanley, in my opinion, is already starting to look more confident in the side, after his nightmare against Liverpool.
It certainly was a well-rounded performance from the Canaries, with exceptional prowess in the attack. Performing like that every week, Norwich will have some of the top 6 quaking in their boots.