The international break is finally over, and a few Manchester City players in particular return in scintillating form. Others, like Fernandinho, got a good amount of time working with the coaching staff to get ready for a busy few weeks ahead.
Up next is newly promoted Norwich City – a team that took the Championship by storm last season, with manager Daniel Farke setting up his squad to play open, expansive football. We’ll get into the details within this article, but as the Canaries proved against Chelsea at Carrow Road, they will do anything but roll over.
Probably Formation and Line-up
Norwich have stuck with Daniel Farke’s classic 4-2-3-1 formation. Injuries are a major problem for Norwich so the eleven we will see on Saturday will be weaker than normal. Tim Krul will start in goal. On the flanks, Sam Bryam and Jamal Lewis are two of the most promising and offensively gifted full-back pairs in the Premier League. Central defence has caused Farke some issues at the start of the season. Ben Godfrey has shown good signs, but finding a partner for him has proved difficult. Ibrahim Amadou should get the start due to injury problems at the heart of the Canaries’ defence.
In midfield, Alexander Tettey and Kenny McLean will most likely get the start in holding midfield due to the amount of injuries they have racked up in this department. In front of these two, the cog of the Farke machine, Marco Steipermann, will attempt to link the attack into the game once possession is gained.
Out wide, Todd Cantwell is returning from his trip with Phil Foden to the England U21 matches, and will hold the left side, while Argentine youngster Emiliano Buendia will occupy the right side. Up top Teemu Pukki will look to punish any and all mistakes made by the Manchester City defence on Saturday afternoon.
Strength and Tactics
Norwich swept the floor in the Championship last season, which was only Farke’s second at the club. A resounding 94 points brought them to the Premier League and they are looking to continue with the ideologies that got them here. This quote from an interview with The Independent perfectly describes Daniel Farke when asked on his views about how to play football: “If you want a short answer, it’s about being dominant. I want our players to be protagonists on the pitch. I don’t like my teams just to be compact and to reach, I like to act. I like to have the ball – if I could choose I would have the ball for 90 minutes. I want to create chances and dominate games.”
From that alone, we can get a pretty good idea of what Norwich will look to do. Of course every team approaches games against City in a different manner, but Farke is known for keeping the same overall approach in games while making subtle adjustments for each opponent. The full-backs are a major part of Norwich’s game. Aarons and Lewis, especially the former, love to get forward but in different ways. More often than not, Aarons is springing down the right hand side offering width, and Lewis is tucking in offering cover. However, when Lewis gets up the pitch he often goes inside, allowing the likes of Steipermann the opportunity to move out wide with Buendia to out number the opposition fullback that way. Due to Aarons being out until after next international break, we might not see this nearly as much with Byram deputizing on the right side.
The wingers are encouraged to find space inside and get close to link up with Pukki. In their match against Chelsea, both goals were examples of each winger coming central and being essential in the buildup resulting in the goal. Cantwell got on the end of one himself, and Buendia got the assist on Pukki’s fourth goal of the season. In possession, Norwich like to move the opposition’s defensive block to one side before making a quick cross field diagonal to the opposite side fullback, who then attempts to attack in lower numerical situations.
Norwich fall back in a mid block and look to press in specific situations of loose touches or possession by the opposition in the corners of the pitch. Besides these scarios, the Canaries look to defend with numbers and attack at speed when possession is regained. They’re quick and technical players are always a danger on the counter.
Lastly, but definitely not least, one of the biggest strengths Norwich have at their disposal doesn’t need any explanation: Teemu Pukki.
For all the strengths that were shown in Norwich’s exciting 3-2 loss against Chelsea their weaknesses were shown even more so. Farke loves his side to keep possession and build from the back, but he simply does not have the players to do this at a high level in the Premier League. Mason Mount’s goal came directly from a mistake from the Norwich defence trying to pass the ball out of pressure. City are one of the best teams at pressing their opposition and winning the ball back quickly. Risky passes could come back to haunt Norwich this weekend…
For all of the attacking ability in the backline, the full-backs can be caught out getting too far forward in attacks. Aarons and Lewis are exciting youngsters but they are still learning and having to do so extremely quickly. As I mentioned briefly earlier, centre-back has been a cause for concern for Farke. Injuries have plagued Farke’s options in this area, and yet another was brought on against West Ham two weeks ago. Amadou will be trusted to partner Godfrey, most likely, and will have to have one of the games of his life to keep up with Sergio Aguero in his current form.
Norwich have shown a lot of promise early on this season, despite only having three points to show for it. However, City’s talent should be able to shine through on Saturday. A 3-1 victory is my prediction. City could easily score more and I would not be surprised, but I can’t help but think Pukki will have some say in the match. Hopefully it’ll come at a time where it won’t matter to anyone except Ederson and his attempts at winning the Golden Glove this campaign.
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