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Season Preview

Norwich: Season Preview

by Matt Nesbitt
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The three promoted teams always bring a bit of mystery, plenty of drama and the odd Fantasy League gem to the new season. Last season QPR and Burnley went the way of 44% of promoted teams, dropping straight back into the Championship but the likes of Kieran Tripper, Danny Ings and Charlie Austin were popular picks – and will be again this time.

 

This season sees Watford stepping up to the PL for the first time in since brief stays in 2006/07 and 1999/00 and Bournemouth for the first time ever. Here we look at Norwich, who bounced back at the first time of asking…

 

The first thing Norwich fans will have done when the fixtures came out is check their last four matches. It was the cruel run-in of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, then Arsenal that finally ended Norwich’s there year Premier League tenure in 2013/14. But although they only dropped into the bottom three in the final two weeks of the season, they had also lost their previous three matches to less salubrious opposition (none intended Fulham, West Brom and Swansea). Without scoring in any of them. Which underlines the real reason for their relegation - the inability to find the net.

 

Norwich were the PL’s lowest scorers by a distance on their last visit, failing to score in 17 of their 38 matches (44%) and six of the last seven. The significance of this impotence in front of goal is magnified when you learn that their defensive record at home was only bettered by teams that qualified for the Champions League that year. It is easy to point the finger of blame at Norwich’s four strikers at the time - John Elmander, Gary Hooper, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Luciano Becchio - so that’s what we’ll do. A miserly eight goals between them consigned Norwich relegation long before their last four unwinnable matches. Six of that eight came from Gary Hooper, who is the only one who contributed last season (van Wolfswinkel is technically still a Canary but will took take flight or be kicked out of the nest…)

 

Bouncing back didn’t look on the agenda, but 2014/15 proved an excellent campaign. Norwich started well winning six of the first nine and managed to stay in touch with the pack during their only sticky patch of the season, briefly dropping to a season low of 11th during a winless November. From then Norwich set off on a remarkable run, winning 18 or their remaining 27 matches to finish third in one of the most competitive Championships in recent memory. They cruised past local rivals Ipswich Town in the two-legged Play-off semi-final and the final itself was over inside 15 minutes – beating Middlesbrough 2-0, a team they had failed to score against in two league defeats.

So, what can we expect next season…?

Home form is always cited as crucial to promoted teams staying up but – somewhat bizarrely – Norwich’s away record was actually marginally better than at home last season, returning more points and clean sheets (8:6).

 

 

Won

Drew

Lost

Gls For

Gls Ag.

Home

12

6

5

50

24

Away

13

5

5

38

24

 

Naturally, we shouldn’t expect that trend to continue this season. Points, goals and clean sheets will all be much harder to come by in with the big boys. But the likes of Danny Ings, Charlie Austin, Leonardo Ulloa - even the likes of Wes Morgan and Kieran Trippier – demonstrate there is Fantasy League value to be had in the promoted teams. So let’s take a look at what is ripe to be picked off the Norwich tree, section by section…

Defenders:

               

 

Apps

CS

Ass

Gls

YC

RC

Steven Whittaker

40

15

5

2

3

0

 

Whittaker is a Scottish international is the clear pick of Norwich’s backline, delivering excellent defensive and attacking numbers. He also averages one shot on target and one key pass per match, which is more than most Norwich midfielder players. And just three Yellow Cards from over 3500 minutes on the pitch is exceptional. Worth a look for fixtures v bottom half teams.

 

 

Apps

CS

Ass

Gls

YC

RC

Russell Martin

48

14

5

2

8

0

 

Martin is another Scottish international with something to offer at both ends. A big, tough center-back who played every minute of every match last season. Also a threat from set-pieces.

 

 

Apps

CS

Ass

Gls

YC

RC

Martin Olsson

45

13

5

1

8

0

 

Olsson is a left-sided player who can operate equally well at full-back or in midfield, who matched the impressive five assists of Martin and Whittaker.

 

In addition, Michael Turner and Sebastien Bassong both have PL experience but offer little else so are less attractive options.

 

Midfielders:

 

 

Apps

Gls

Ass

YC

RC

Bradley Johnson

43

15

2

13

1

 

Johnson was the second top scorer for Norwich, hitting eight in 14 matches in their exceptional season run-in. A word of warning though - Johnson has never been prolific during his career. He had only managed seven in his 87 matches for Norwich before this season and has a career average of one goal every six matches. He likes a booking too, so there looks to be a better option at the club…

 

 

Apps

Gls

Ass

YC

RC

Nathan Redmond

36

6

13

1

0

 

England Under 21 Redmond was one of the star performers in the Championship last season. His total of 13 assists was only topped by one player and he will only get better. You suspect – like Kieran Tripper, Danny Ings and Charlie Austin – Redmond will stay in the PL whether Norwich do or not.

 

 

Apps

Gls

Ass

YC

RC

Johnny Howson

35

9

6

5

1

 

Johnny Howson is another player that didn’t boast a particularly good goals record before this season, but nine from 35 is an outstanding return. If – and it is a big ‘if’ – he can get close to that again he might be worth a look at a bargain price.

 

Elsewhere, veteran Wes Hoolahan delivered and exceptional ten assists from 29 matches, but his 33-year-old legs might get the game time. Graham Dorrans has a bit of PL experience with West Brom and Alexander Tettey is a big player for Norwich but their best work is done in the engine room.

 

Forwards:

 

 

Apps

Gls

Ass

YC

RC

Cameron Jerome

36

20

7

8

0

 

Jerome looks the pick, if you fancy taking a punt. Plenty of PL experience – if perhaps not pedigree – but it has to be said that he has been a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goal scorer. Unlikely to get anywhere near 20 goals based on his previous totals with Palace, Stoke, Birmingham and Cardiff.

 

 

Apps

Gls

Ass

YC

RC

Gary Hooper

16

12

6

2

0

 

Hooper deserves a mention for hitting 12 goals in just 16 starts. But he managed just six in his previous PL season and with Norwich unlikely to field two out-and-out strikers in many matches, might struggle for pitch time.

 

The same can be said for Lewis Grabban. He also hit 12 goals (in just 23 starts) but the PL will be a big step up and he too will spend much of the season on the bench.

 

In Summary:

 

The proposed deals for Hull winger Robbie Brady and veteran Argentine striker Joaquin Larrivey should add a bit of quality, but it is certain to be a long, hard season for Norwich. Manager Alex Neil has done a sensational job and is a rising star – perhaps the club’s biggest – but you suspect that if he was offered 17th place right now he would take it. Their home worm will be critical and the fact that Carrow Road will not be a new experience to most PL teams - unlike Bournemouth’s Dean Court and Watford’s Vicarage Road - might go against them. Fantasy wise, midfielder Nathan Redmond and forward Cameron Jerome look the obvious stand-out picks with defenders Steven Whittaker and Russell Martin the next most interesting.

 

Matt Nesbitt is a one-time player, long-time tipster and full-time fan of the beautiful game. He is a regular guest and the driving force behind Premier League Match Predictor. Email: mattnesbitt