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[Image] Can the league leaders continue their charge? Predicted 4-2-3-1 Norwich City XI to face Preston



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Predicted Norwich City line-up to face Preston North End in the Championship

Norwich City take on Preston North End in an important game for both teams, in what is expected to be a rather interesting end to the Championship season. With just 15 games to go, the Canaries lead second-place Leeds United by a mere two points.

While a large majority of the campaign has seen Marcelo Bielsa and his side lead the table, the Peacocks failed to beat Daniel Farke’s men and surrendered the top spot. Now with Leeds United playing Swansea City midweek in a tricky match, both sides have ties that could go either way.

That’s simply because Preston North End have seen their form pick up in recent weeks. They are unbeaten in their last five league games, with three wins to their name. Meanwhile, Norwich are also unbeaten in their last five and have three wins to their name.

This adds to the fun and drama, with both sides looking to keep their run going. History does favour the Canaries, with Preston’s last win against them coming all the way back in 2016.

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Team news

Defender Timm Klose is still ruled out with a knee injury, along with Moritz Leitner, Louis Thompson and Carlton Morris.

Manager Daniel Farke does, however, have Alex Tettey after he did return from injury, playing the last two games off the bench and could start along with deadline day signing Philipp Heise.

Predicted Norwich City XI

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Manager: Daniel Farke

Tim Krul (GK)

The former Newcastle United man is one of only four players to have made 30 or more appearances this season and should keep his place against Preston.

Ivo Pinto (RB)

The 29-year-old right-back has made only 5 appearances all season and should be given a chance to impress the manager.

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Ben Godfrey (CB)

With Timm Klose out injured, Godfrey has done relatively well as a centre-back, despite being a defensive midfielder and should keep his place in the line-up.

Christoph Zimmermann (CB)

The second player to make more than 30 appearances this season, Zimmermann also should keep his place in the starting eleven.

Philip Heise (LB)

While the game against Ipswich Town was too early for Heise to make an appearance, the midweek game does allow manager Farke to rotate his line-up and hand the German his debut.

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Alexander Tettey (CM)

While Tettey has only just returned from injury, the 32-year-old should make his first start in quite some time, after two back-to-back off the bench appearances.

Mario Vrancic (CM)

The 29-year-old Vrancic was on the score-sheet against Ipswich Town with a brace, and manager Daniel Farke would want him to continue his good run of form.

Todd Cantwell (LW)

This could be the chance for young Todd Cantwell to make an impression. While the 20-year-old has made multiple appearances off the bench, he could be in line for a start.

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Marco Stiepermann (CAM)

The third player to play 30 or more appearances this season, Stiepermann has been Norwich City’s creative spark this season with seven assists and should keep his place.

Onel Hernandez (RW)

The Cuban international has struggled in recent games, and yet could be given another chance to show why Farke has so much faith in him.

Teemu Pukki (ST)

There really isn’t any other option for Norwich City and even if there was, there is no chance manager Daniel Farke will bench his top and in-form goal-scorer.


Aston Villa

Where will the 3 newly promoted teams finish this season? Can Norwich and Aston Villa beat the drop?



PL prediction: Where will the 3 newly promoted teams finish this season?

Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa are the three newly-promoted teams that have come into the Premier League this season.

Only once in Premier League history have all three promoted teams dropped straight back down, and that was back in 1997-98.

Furthermore, there have been three instances when all three promoted teams have survived, most recently in 2017-18, when Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town all retained their Premier League status.

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All the three promoted teams this season – Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, have had contrasting starts to the campaign so far. That being said, let’s take a look at who will finish where in the table.

1. Norwich City – 12th

Daniel Farke’s Norwich City took the Championship by storm and confirmed their promotion fairly early.

During the summer transfer window, the Canaries made some interesting signings in Sam Byram, Patrick Roberts, Josip Drmic and Ralf Fahrmann. Clearly, Farke relies on those players who served the club well last season.

Norwich’s opener against Liverpool turned out to be a heavy defeat for the visitors as they lost 4-1 at Anfield. It could have been worse than that but thanks to goalkeeper Tim Krul, as he made a couple of outstanding saves.

But Farke’s side have shown great character to come back from the disheartening opening day defeat at Anfield. They defeated Newcastle United 3-1 at Carrow Road in their first home game of the season, with last season’s star Teemu Pukki scoring a fabulous hat-trick.

If Farke can be flexible with his tactics and get Pukki firing every weekend, the Canaries can certainly enjoy a respectable mid-table finish.

2. Sheffield United – 16th

After conceding the joint-fewest goals and keeping the most number of clean sheets in the Championship last season, Sheffield United are the most impressive defensive unit among the promoted sides.

The Blades have returned to the top-flight for the first time since 2007 and the plans have been laid down in order to stay at the top for a long period of time.

Having snapped up experienced defender Phil Jagielka on a free transfer following his release from Everton, Chris Wilder focused on bolstering his attack in the transfer window, with the likes of Lys Mousset, Oliver McBurnie, Callum Robinson and Luke Freeman arriving at Bramall Lane.

And to everyone’s surprise, they have enjoyed a really promising start to the Premier League campaign, picking up four points from the first two games. Wilder’s men drew 1-1 with Bournemouth before beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at home at the weekend.

If Sheffield United can make the Bramall Lane a fortress, chances of them beating the drop would become higher.

3. Aston Villa – 17th

Aston Villa beat Derby County in the playoff finals at Wembley to become the third promoted side this season.

Upon their return to the top-flight since the rock-bottom finish in 2016, they were one of the biggest spenders in the summer window as Dean Smith signed as many as 13 players.

The Villans released a number of experienced stars including Alan Hutton, Micah Richards and Glenn Whelan in order to reduce the squad’s age and pump in some fresh, young talents.

Despite reinforcing the backline, Aston Villa have conceded five goals in the first two games. There is a lot to improve for Smith’s side, who are yet to open their account in the points table.

Villa’s massive summer spending is risky and reminds us of Fulham’s approach last season after their promotion. The plan backfired and the Cottagers now find themselves back in the Championship.

Certainly, it won’t be a similar case as far as Villa are concerned, with Smith being a smart tactician. He also has assistant coach John Terry to somehow help the club in difficult situations. It’ll be a close shave, nevertheless!

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5 Talking points from Premier League gameweek 2 including VAR drama and Norwich masterclass



Five talking points from Premier League gameweek two

Week two of the new Premier League campaign is now over, with Wolves and Manchester United settling for a 1-1 draw.

A victory for the Red Devils would have seen them become only the third side to record two straight victories this season so far, with Liverpool and Arsenal currently boasting a 100% record after champions Manchester City dropped points at home to Tottenham on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Frank Lampard is yet to win his first game as a Chelsea manager as his side were held to an exciting 1-1 draw by Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Here, we take a look at five talking points from the second week of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

1. Norwich 3-1 Newcastle United:  Teemu Pukki grabs the headlines

Teemu Pukki was a revelation in the Championship last season, guiding Norwich City to top-flight promotion. And he has taken the Premier League like a duck to water, scoring four goals in two games thus far.

The Finland international scored a fantastic hat-trick against Newcastle United at the weekend, which also involved a rasping pile-driver from inside the box that Martin Dubravka had no chance to keep out.

The 29-year-old has shown what he is capable of doing and Daniel Farke will expect his marksman to keep delivering the goods consistently.

2. Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham: VAR denies Man City a late winner

The battle between Manchester City and Tottenham produced some late drama once again, courtesy of the VAR.

For the second time in four months, City saw a decisive stoppage-time goal against Tottenham snatched away by VAR, leaving them with a 2-2 draw rather than a 3-2 victory.

VAR disallowed Gabriel Jesus’ goal two minutes into stoppage time after a hand-ball earlier in the move by Aymeric Laporte.

Given the stakes are high in the Premier League, these two dropped points for Pep Guardiola could be pivotal come May.

3. Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Sadio Mane comes back to haunt the Saints

Liverpool seem to have a new talisman this season in Sadio Mane, who came back to haunt Southampton at the weekend.

After helping the Reds add the European Super Cup to the Champions League, Mane got the ball rolling for Jurgen Klopp’s men with a superb goal in first-half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino scored in the second half to hand the visitors a two-goal cushion.

A comedy of errors from Adrian in goal gifted Danny Ings his first goal of the season, but Liverpool saw the game out to earn two wins from their opening two matches.

4. Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace: John Lundstram helps the Blades to three crucial points

Any team that takes Sheffield United lightly at Bramall Lane would simply be digging its own graveyard.

Chris Wilder’s men have been impressive in the first two games, earning their first victory of the top-flight campaign against a spineless Crystal Palace side via to a second-half strike from John Lundstram. The Blades also gave a glimpse of how difficult they are going to be at home.

5. Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City: Frank Lampard still waiting for his first win as Chelsea boss

It has been a tough start for Frank Lampard at Chelsea, although the 41-year-old will be encouraged with the displays in the last two games after the 4-0 thrashing against Manchester United.

Chelsea started strongly and were rewarded with an early goal through Mason Mount, however, they couldn’t double their advantage or bury the game in the first half when they had the chances to do so.

That gave Leicester a chance to bounce back in the second half and they did so, equalising through Wilfred Ndidi. The Foxes have only themselves to blame for not taking more than a point out of the Bridge.

Lampard has a lot to improve if his team is to make it to the top-four but for now, he remains without a win.

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Here are Daniel Farke’s 5 successful raids on the German market since taking over at Norwich City



Daniel Farke’s 5 successful raids on the German market since taking over at Norwich City

The level of excitement at Carrow Road is expected to rocket sky-high as Norwich City prepare to kick off their Premier League campaign away from home at Liverpool.

The Canaries finished the 2018-19 EFL Championship as champions, thus securing promotion back to the Premier League following a three-year absence from the top-flight.

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Norwich earned plenty of plaudits for their impressive brand of football in the second-tier last term and manager Daniel Farke will be hoping that his team can replicate same the kind of form in the Premier League this season as the Canaries look to make a grand return to the top-flight.

The fans though, will be aware of the fact that Norwich didn’t really reach great heights the last time they were promoted to the Premier League from the Championship.

The Canaries, then managed by current Preston manager Alex Neil, had failed to beat the drop in the 2015-16 season in the Premier League and went straight back down to the second tier without making much of an impression. 

However, Norwich’s stunning revival under the charismatic presence of Daniel Farke at the helm of affairs, coupled with the fact that the Canaries have managed to carve out an identity of their own since the German’s arrival at Carrow Road in 2017, should give the fans plenty of hope. 

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Farke has done well to build a squad in his own image in a space of just two years, which has been instrumental in the process of him being able to establish an aesthetic brand of footballer at the club.

Moreover, the German hasn’t had millions to throw around in the market like some of his counterparts, and so he deserves all the credit in the world for his recruitment policy.

Indeed, Farke’s recruitment policy at Carrow Road has paid rich dividends in a relatively short span of time. Born and raised in Germany, and having spent his entire playing and managerial career in his homeland, Farke’s knowledge of the German market has allowed the Canaries to build a squad with several low-profile bargain recruits.

The manager sold several homegrown stars like Alex Pritchard, Jacob Murphy, Jonny Howson, Cameron Jerome and Graham Dorrans in the 2017-18 season to make way for some new low-cost signings, most of which were little-known players based in Germany. 

Farke has proven that his knowledge of the German market is, indeed, quite vast and with that in mind, let us take a look at some of the manager’s best German recruits at Carrow Road.

Note: This list includes German stars or German-based stars, so other contemporary marquee signings like Emiliano Buendia and Teemu Pukki don’t fall under the bracket.

1. Marco Stiepermann (Vfl Bochum)

A former player of Borussia Dortmund, Marco Stiepermann made his move to Carrow Road from German second-tier outfit Vfl Bochum in the summer of 2017 and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Farke was instrumental in bringing the towering 6ft 3in attacking midfielder to English football given that the 28-year-old’s time with Dortmund’s reserves coincides with the manager’s stint at his former club’s development ranks.

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Having plied his trade largely in the German second-tier with clubs like Energie Cottbus, Greuther Furth and Vfl Bochum, Stiepermann initially struggled to settle down at Carrow Road in his debut season but he went on to play a key role in the cub’s promotion-winning campaign last term.

Taller and more physical as compared to an average No.10, Stiepermann was slotted into the No.10 role behind prolific frontman Teemu Pukki by the manager in his preferred 4-2-3-1 system, and the German impressed with 9 goals and 6 assists in 43 Championship outings, bagging four man-of-the-match awards.

2. Mario Vrancic (Darmstadt)

The Bosnian international was probably one of Farke’s most high-profile signings after his arrival at Carrow Road.

Just like Stiepermann, Vrancic too struggled to make much of an impression in his debut season in England, and despite Farke preferring him as one of the first names on his teamsheet more often than not, the Bosnian failed to deliver the goods. 

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Having struggled to settle down in his new surroundings, Vrancic slipped down the pecking order in the 2018-19 season and started only 14 games in the Championship, whilst making 22 substitute appearances from the bench. 

Ironically, he managed to contribute with 10 goals and 7 assists over the course of Norwich’s promotion-winning campaign, with quite a few of those being absolute stunners towards the crunch end of the season when the Canaries needed him to step up.

Farke will be hoping for the midfielder’s previous Bundesliga experience with Paderborn to come handy when the Canaries fight it out in the Premier League.

3. Christoph Zimmermann (Borussia Dortmund)

Having plied his trade with the reserve teams of Borussia Monchengladbach and Dortmund prior to his arrival at Carrow Road, powerful centre-back Christoph Zimmermann looked set for a career in the third and fourth tiers of German football.

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However, it all changed in the summer of 2017 when Daniel Farke brought him to Carrow Road on a free transfer from Dortmund. 

Zimmermann’s first season in English football wasn’t particularly productive as Norwich finished 14th in the Championship. But Farke tasted the fruits of showing a lot of confidence in the physically imposing defender, with the German making a big contribution in Norwich’s promotion-winning 2018-19 campaign.

4. Tom Trybull (ADO Den Haag)

A former youth international for Germany at multiple levels, Tom Trybull signed for Norwich City from Dutch Eredivisie outfit ADO Den Haag in 2017 with Bundesliga experience in his CV, having played for Werder Bremen in the German top-flight earlier in his career.

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Trybull is one of the few inclusions in the list who made an instant impact upon his arrival in the Championship, as the gifted and well-rounded central midfielder had absolutely no difficulties in getting to grips with the English game.

The 26-year-old started only 17 league games in the 2017-18 season, and although he didn’t start regularly last term, Trybull was very much a key component of the Canaries Championship-winning side, having impressed with his accurate passing, distribution and ability to break up the play.

5. Onel Hernandez (Eintracht Braunschweig)

The diminutive winger featured for the reserve sides of Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen in the fourth tier of German football and then starred for Eintracht Braunschweig in the Bundesliga 2 before making his move to Carrow Road on January 2018.

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Hernandez didn’t have much time to turn Norwich’s fortunes around in the latter half of the 2017-18 season but he featured prominently in the wide areas in Farke’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system last season, impressing with his pace, trickery and ability to contribute with both goals and assists.

The Cuba-born attacker plundered 8 goals and 9 assists in 40 Championship outings last term and it will be interesting to see whether the manages to replicate those kinds of numbers in the Premier League.

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