Norwich City Season Preview

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How we Got Here:

For the second time in three years, the Canaries are back in the Premier League after winning the Championship. Fueled by Championship Player of the Year Emi Buendia, Norwich outdid their 2019 points total collecting 97 points en route to the title. Their performances also broke the club’s points record which was 95 in League One in 2010. All of that is good and Norwich scored the second-most goals in the Championship while allowing the second-fewest goals in the league.

But this is almost a carbon copy of their 2019 promotion to the Premier League. That team had a slightly worse defense but the attacks were similar. The addition of Ben Gibson to the heart of the defense went a long way to shoring things up as did adding Oliver Skipp at the base of the midfield.

The issue here has been that While Norwich does a good job in getting to the Premier League, they don’t do a good job investing to stay in the Premier League. Norwich does a good job at controlling possession in the Championship so that teams can’t penetrate their defense but playing that style in the Premier League gets them shredded and is why they're the odds on favorite to be relegated this season which would break the record for most relegations from the league. We’ll get into some of those issues in-depth but things are concerning.

The Departures:

Norwich hasn’t had many departures but the quality of those departures is hard to replace. Mario Vrancic has left for Stoke City on a free, Oliver Skipp has returned to Spurs after the end of his loan spell and Emi Buendia was sold to Aston Villa.

Vrancic isn’t a huge loss considering that he only played 600 minutes in their last Premier League season but he did provide valuable depth in a pinch for the squad. Oliver Skipp went on loan to Norwich to get his first real taste of first-team soccer and responded in a big way making 44 starts for the Canaries. While Skipp’s numbers don’t show in goals and assists, with him only being involved in two goals, his passing and defensive numbers show some of his true value.

Skipp completed 86.8 percent of his passes for Norwich. But while that number can be inflated by short passes, that wasn’t the case here as he completed 13 medium passes and 6.67 long passes per 90 minutes. Those long passes especially are important as a lot of times, Skipp was springing Todd Cantwell and Buendia into attacks which is something that will be sorely missed this season. Skipp also won 1.38 tackles and 1.26 interceptions per 90 minutes to ensure that the defense wasn’t overworked in the few cases that they had to defend.

Buendia leaving creates a huge hole on the wing for Norwich. Everything that the team did went through him and it showed as he collected 15 goals and 15 assists. Historically, Buendia was the chief creator for Norwich but this past season, he shot more than ever and created goals to go along with it. While some of this shows how good Buendia will be for Aston Villa, it shows how impossible it will be for any one player to fill his role. Even in Norwich’s foray in the Premier League, Buendia shined brightly collecting seven assists. Coming into the Premier League, you want to keep your best players, and Norwich losing not just one but two of theirs creates a headache for Daniel Farke and the recruitment team.

The Arrivals:

Norwich has tried to get bodies in making Ben Gibson and Dimitrios Giannoulis’ loans permanent. They also added Milot Rashica, Pierre Lees Melou, and Angus Gunn on permanent transfers with Billy Gilmour on loan. The investment concerns already show not only with the quality of players signed but that Norwich’s net spend so far this offseason is only -1.38 million dollars.

Rashica is the highest-profile addition so far following Werder Bremen’s relegation from the Bundesliga. During his time in Germany, Rashica was involved in 36 goals for Bremen and took about 2.5 shots per 90 minutes. Rashica’s dribbling is also a positive asset as he completed 2.6 dribbles per 90 and will look to create overloads on the right-hand side of the pitch with Max Aarons. Lees Melou could be a good addition but seeing how he acclimates will be important.

Billy Gilmour is Norwich’s attempt to replace Oliver Skipp as you can see the similarities in playstyle as well as the fact that Gilmour will be looking at his first taste of consistent first-team soccer too. The goal is that Gilmour will dictate the attack from deep but that will be quite the responsibility for such a young player.

Needs/ Key Positional Battles:

Lineup wise, Norwich is pretty settled as the biggest question is who will partner Gilmour in midfield. The question is what does the team have left to spend in the transfer market? They need a true midfield general but those types of players are also hard to sign on the cheap. Something like using their second Premier League loan spot for Alexis Mac Allistor could work but it seems like the hope is that Kieran Dowell will take a step forward this year.

I wouldn’t be against signing another center back as well but that would require replacing the club captain Grant Hanley. A backup right back is the only other attainable target that I can think of as with a rough start to the season, Max Aarons could be off to a new team in January.

Fantasy Outlook:

In FPL the only target for the Canaries is 6.0m forward Teemu Pukki. If he’s able to equal his 11 goal three assist output without Buendia, then Pukki will be a valuable asset in FPL. Billy Gilmour has picked up steam as a 4.5m midfield enabler but that’s on the hope that you’ll only have to play him three to four times this season. Max Aarons has made his way into 3.2 percent of teams so far but I expect that number to drop as more players sign up for the official game.

Preseason minutes have some moving to Andrew Omobamidele as a 4.0m center back but I’d rather not have my 4.0 defender come from the team that will most likely concede the most goals in the Premier League.

With Rashica taking set plays, I like his price at 5.5m but I need to watch what he does as that’s a crowded price range including Stuart Dallas, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bryan Mbeumo. Looking at draft leagues, Todd Cantwell enters the fray but that’s about it as there isn’t much to look forward to for the Canaries right now.

It’s unfortunate that the best fantasy advice that I can give is to captain anyone playing against Norwich this year but hopefully like Fulham last year, Norwich can find a way to put things together and surprise us all.