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Better than Teemu Pukki? – Here’s the scout report of Norwich City’s latest signing

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Scout Report: Josip Drmic-Norwich City’s new talisman

According to BBC Sports, Norwich City have completed the signing of Borussia Monchengladbach and Switzerland striker Josip Drmic on a three-year deal, with the 26-year-old set to join the Canaries on July 1 when his contract at his current club expires.

The newly-promoted Premier League outfit were in the market for a new striker to provide cover and competition for last season’s standout performer Teemu Pukki, and Drmic’s arrival is likely to create plenty of excitement amongst the fans at Carrow Road.

Drmic scored only 2 goals in 5 Bundesliga games for Monchengladbach this past season, with the 26-year-old missing large quarters of the campaign due to a back injury and muscle tear.

The Swiss international has had a really tough time in Germany over the past three or four seasons, with injuries severely restricting his involvement and playing a big role in his downfall.

Drmic’s feat of bagging 17 goals for Nurnberg in the 2013-14 campaign, which was also his first ever season in the Bundesliga, led to him being widely dubbed as one of the brightest emerging prospects in Europe.

However, recurrent injuries over the years have stalled his progress and it would be fair to say that his influence in the Bundesliga has waned considerably, with the 26-year-old failing to replicate those numbers in the following seasons.

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However, as far as Norwich City are concerned, manager Daniel Farke is likely to have a good knowledge of Drmic’s skills in front of goal and bringing him in on a free transfer certainly eliminates the risk factor in the move.

The 26-year-old can be a devastating presence up front when he is fit and running at the top of his game. Although he hasn’t been able to fire on all cylinders over the past few campaigns due to injuries, Norwich have every reason to hope that the Swiss international could add a lot of depth, quality and firepower to their attack.

Pukki racked up 29 goals and 9 assists last season to propel Norwich to the Championship title but Farke should be wary of his past struggles at Celtic and Schalke, meaning that the 29-year-old might find it difficult to get to grips with the quality and intensity of the Premier League.

And that is exactly the reason why the arrival of Josip Drmic is such an exciting proposition for the Canaries. As Norwich continue to prepare for the Premier League season, let us take a closer look at the latest addition to their squad – Switzerland’s Josip Drmic.

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Background

Born in Lachen, Switzerland, Drmic rose through the youth ranks of Swiss club FC Zurich and played regularly for the reserves before eventually earning his league debut back in 2010.

However, it was in the 2012-13 season that Drmic rose to prominence and enjoyed his first major breakthrough at Zurich, scoring 13 goals in the league and finishing the campaign with a tally of 19 goals in 39 games across all competitions.

Drmic’s red-hot form in Switzerland attracted interest from Bundesliga strugglers Nurnberg, who swooped for him in the summer of 2013.

He made an instant impact in the German top-flight in his debut season and netted 17 goals over the course of the 2013-14 campaign, finishing 3rd in the list of top scorers behind the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Mandzukic. 

The striker’s best efforts were not enough to save Nurnberg from relegation and Drmic earned a move to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014.

That, however, proved to be the beginning of his downfall, as Drmic managed to start only 5 games in the Bundesliga in the following season due to injuries, scoring 6 goals in the process.

Drmic once again switched boats in 2015 to join Borussia Monchengladbach but his career was already in a downward spiral by that time and his poor injury record saw him score only once in 13 appearances in the first half of the 2015-16 season before being shipped out on loan to Hamburger SV.

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The Swiss international went on to start just 8 Bundesliga games for Monchengladbach over the course of the next three seasons, eventually ending his stint with a disappointing tally of 7 goals and 5 assists in 54 appearances.

The 26-year-old has accumulated a total of 10 goals in 32 senior appearances for Switzerland, representing his nation at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.

Style of Play and Strengths

Standing at just around 6ft., Drmic doesn’t really fall within the bracket of tall, towering or physically-dominant centre-forwards. However, he makes up for it with his good well-rounded attributes in front of goal, apparently combining the virtues of a pacey wide forward and an out-and-out clinical centre-forward.

Predominantly a right-footed attacker, Drmic is noted for his ambidexterity, as well as his versatility to play out wide on either flank and lead the line as a centre-forward.

When it comes to his strengths, two of his primary attributes which define his style of play are his pace and acceleration. That, coupled with his dribbling skills, sharpness, agility, exceptional close control and body balance, allow him to play off the shoulder of the last man and make his own space in front of goal.

Blessed with good spatial awareness for a centre-forward, Drmic combines his pace with his instincts to make well-timed runs behind the opposition’s backline, whilst his upper body strength and ability to time his jump to perfection make him a genuine threat from aerial balls delivered into the box.

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Another noticeable weapon in Drmic’s repertoire is his technical ability on the ball, which allows him to bring the ball down with a sumptuous first-touch.

An intricate first touch allows a striker to create room and set up the perfect angle for a finish, which is often visible in the way Drmic puts his chances away with effortless ease.

Furthermore, Drmic is also quite good at linking up with his teammates to create chances and he does have the calmness and composure in crucial situations to grab his opportunities with both hands.

Weaknesses

As mentioned earlier, Drmic is a complete package who fits the bill of a versatile centre-forward with well-rounded attributes. However, going by the cliche that even the best of players come with their own set of drawbacks, the 26-year-old also lacks in some areas of his game.

The Swiss international is not particularly adept at holding onto the ball and bringing his teammates into play, while his propensity to make runs behind the backline makes him predictable at times and allows the opposition to use the offside trap to good effect against him.

His contribution to the defence can certainly improve but given his poor injury record, it would be unfair to push him too hard to track back and help out his defenders. 

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Conclusion

Drmic’s stocks have been on the decline in recent seasons given that the Swiss international has found it hard to keep himself fit.

However, he continues to be a quality striker with a great technique and Norwich can certainly afford to look at him as someone who could provide cover and competition for Pukki.

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As a matter of fact, Drmic is a lot better than Pukki in terms of technical abilities and finishing, and few would dare to bet against the Canaries staying up in the Premier League if he manages to deliver the goods.

All in all, bringing the 26-year-old to Carrow Road for free could prove to be a piece of shrewd business by the club.

Arsenal

Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Predicted XI and more

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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team news, Prediction and more

Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday with both teams hoping to extend their 100% domestic record with the third win of their Premier League season.

The Reds thrashed Norwich 4-1 in the Premier League curtain-raiser before edging past Southampton 2-1 on Saturday. Sandwiched in between was their UEFA Super Cup triumph against Chelsea in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Gunners have also enjoyed a perfect start to their season, thanks to wins over Newcastle and Burnley, but the trip to Merseyside will represent their first acid test of the new season.

Arsenal’s recent visits to Anfield have been embarrassing, to say the least. Liverpool have scored 22 goals out of 30 in some staggering victories against the north London club in recent times. So, Unai Emery has a mighty task of changing the scenario at the weekend.

Team News

For Liverpool, Alisson Becker has a suspected grade two tear and is not expected to be fit for the Arsenal game. Naby Keita has a muscle problem and will miss Saturday’s game, while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term casualty.

Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin is continuing his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury, although he won’t be available anytime soon. New signing Kieran Tierney remains unavailable due to a groin problem but Rob Holding has participated in full training with the first-team squad.

Granit Xhaka could return after missing the Burnley win while Mesut Ozil was absent due to illness and is back in full training now.

Predicted XIs

Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.

Arsenal (3-5-2): Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac; Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette.

Tactical Prediction

Jurgen Klopp should go with his usual 4-3-3 formation on Saturday. Adrian will continue to deputise in goal, with Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming the back-four.

Having Fabinho as the shield in front of the back-four, the likes of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain should get the free license to join the attacks often and cause problems to the Arsenal defence.

Liverpool’s high press is very difficult to contain and the onus will be on Chamberlain to help drive the attack from the midfield.

The Reds are powered by their front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah. They are slowly starting to hit form but given their fantastic record at Anfield against Arsenal, Klopp will expect his fiery front three to deliver the goods.

Unai Emery, on the other hand, could revert to a back-three system on Saturday. It is a system in which many of the Arsenal central defenders feel comfortable.

David Luiz is the best ball-playing defender of the lot and he will be accompanied by Sokratis and Monreal at the back, with Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac as wing-backs.

The Gunners will look to use the width while hitting Liverpool on the counter as full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are defensively suspect and provide a lot of space behind them due to their natural attacking mindset.

Guendouzi has started the season encouragingly and should be partnered in the midfield by Xhaka, and Ceballos, who royally impressed with his performance against Burnley. It’ll be vital for Arsenal’s midfield to nullify the threat of Wijnaldum and Chamberlain while in transition.

As record-signing Pepe is still being eased in, Emery is expected to go with the two-pronged attack of Aubameyang and Lacazette. Liverpool have been shaky at the back so far in the new season, which could present Lacazette and Aubameyang with some chances to pounce on.

Predicted Result

It’ll be a wild contest in front of the ever-boisterous Anfield crowd. Expect Liverpool to dominate possession, press very hard, force mistakes and pounce on it.

Also, expect their backline to make a couple of errors and get punished by Arsenal’s attack. Nevertheless, the game should end in favour of the Reds.

Prediction: Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal

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Arsenal? Manchester United? – Which of the big clubs will achieve a top-4 finish in the PL this season?

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Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United- who will miss out on top four?

The 2018/19 Premier League title race went down to the wire, with Manchester City beating Liverpool to the crown by just a point. The team that followed them were Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.

The new season is just two games old and Liverpool and Arsenal are the only teams to have enjoyed a 100% record thus far, after Manchester United dropped points in the 1-1 draw with Wolves at Molineux on Monday.

We saw an entertaining battle between Manchester City and Tottenham end in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad last weekend, with VAR’s intervention denying the champions a late winner. These are early days but the Premier League table is shaping up very well.

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Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have comprised the table’s top six in each of the previous three seasons.

Considering City and Liverpool are set to battle it out again for the Premier League title, which two teams amongst Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United will make it to the top four this time? Let’s have a look.

Chelsea

Just two games into the new season, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is already under pressure to find some tactical answers as he is still seeking his first Premier League victory.

After the opening day mauling at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford, Chelsea’s performances improved in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool and the 1-1 draw with Leicester City at the weekend, although Lampard’s men were lucky to escape with a point.

The Blues’ transfer window embargo meant Lampard couldn’t strengthen his squad in the summer. The 41-year-old had to be content with the squad set up by Maurizio Sarri but without Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid.

Hazard contributed directly to half of Chelsea’s league goals last season, and their attack was almost totally reliant on him. The Belgian’s departure has left a huge void and that coupled with the exits of experienced defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz, Lampard’s Chelsea are set for a long season.

Prediction: There have been more negatives than positives in Chelsea’s first two league games and while Lampard will take time to give his side a fixed style of play, it’s difficult to see the Blues making it to the top four.

Tottenham

Against all odds, Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season only to fail at the final hurdle. A combination of their European exploits and a failure to make new signings saw their Premier League form suffer.

However, Spurs spent heavily this summer, signing players like Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon.

Pochettino’s side have started the new campaign well, taking four points out of a possible six. Despite the departures of Kieran Trippier, Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen, Tottenham have been boosted by their new signings and can better last season’s finish.

Prediction: If Pochettino can keep Harry Kane fit throughout the season and get the best out of his new signings, Tottenham can threaten to make it a three-horse title race this time around.

Arsenal

There is a real buzz at Arsenal because of the arrival of new faces at the Emirates and the rollicking start they have made to the new campaign.

Victories over Newcastle and Burnley means that the Gunners have enjoyed a perfect start, although a trip to Liverpool beckons at the weekend. Considering their recent visits to Anfield, it could be all doom and gloom for the North London giants.

Nevertheless, Unai Emery will be happy with the start and would expect things to get better. On loan from Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos made quite an impact on his full debut against Burnley, while the fans also saw glimpses of quality from star man, Nicolas Pepe.

But the Gunners still look defensively shaky and that was visible in the game against Burnley.

David Luiz’s acquisition from Chelsea on the transfer deadline day was a coup but his track-record of clumsy and erratic defending will hardly fill Bernd Leno with confidence.

Then there is the error-prone Shkodran Mustafi, an ageing Sokratis Papastathopoulos and a not-yet-fit Rob Holding in central defence.

Prediction: While Pepe has given a different threat and dynamism to the Arsenal attack, Emery’s defence could again plot his downfall. They’ll miss Aaron Ramsey’s midfield vigour and big-game performances. Frankly, the Gunners won’t make it to the top four this season.

Manchester United

Despite a frustrating transfer window, Manchester United brought three new players in Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. And all three of the new signings have made an impact in the first two weeks of the new season, helping the Red Devils bag four points out of a possible six.

Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have only made the Premier League top-four twice. This shows just how far they’ve fallen from grace.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to bring the glory days back at Old Trafford by promoting young players and playing relentless attacking football.

United were defensively shambolic last season and Solskjaer strengthened his backline with the additions of Maguire and Wan-Bissaka. They lacked natural width as well and Solskjaer addressed it by bringing in the explosive Daniel James, who is also direct in his style of play.

The United boss has let go of Romelu Lukaku to Inter but didn’t sign a replacement. This seems like a plan to promote academy starlet Mason Greenwood.

Prediction: Going by the first two games, the Red Devils look more composed and secure at the back. Solskjaer’s army looks weak in the midfield and an injury to either Paul Pogba or any central midfielder could see them sweat.

Genuinely, though, the players seem sharper and fit, attacking with pace and hitting opponents on the counter. Despite some obvious weaknesses, the Red Devils’ immediate objective of steady improvement and a return to the top four seems possible.

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Aston Villa

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

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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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