20 Days of the Premier League has reached its 15th day, and today, the talk of the town is Norwich City.
Norwich won the Championship last year, continuing what has been a pretty consistent pattern of promotion from the second flight and relegation from the Premier League year to year; however, they will be looking to avoid the drop this year after receiving promising signs over the past 12 months.
Norwich Steamrolls Through the Championship
Norwich won the Championship with 97 points, six more than second-place Watford, and with the best goal differential in the league; this came through their efforts on both ends, as they had the second-best goal-scoring and defensive records in the EFL.
The Canaries had a nine-game winning streak in the back-half of the season that helped them extend their lead atop the table, which they had held since the end of November. This was the second time in two years that they won the Championship, with a last-place finish in the Premier League in between.
Teemu Pukki led the club with 24 goals, the third-most in the league, to go along with four assists. Emi Buendia was next with 15 goals and a team-high 15 assists, though he was sold to Aston Villa in June.
Right-back Max Aarons played in 4,046 of a possible 4,140 minutes and started 45 of 46 games; he is a promising English talent and an integral component in the team, though his international career is yet to make any headway due to the competition at the position with Kyle Walker, Reece James, Kieran Trippier, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Norwich frequently deployed a 4-2-3-1 system that is more aggressive and indicative of a talented team, though it will be tested much more now that they are back in the top flight.
A Busy Summer
Norwich bought five players this summer, the most notable of which is Milot Rashica of Kosovo and Werder Bremen; the 25-year-old right-winger managed three goals and five assists in 24 Bundesliga matches last season and was snapped up for $12.1 million to help fill Buendia’s vacancy.
The Canaries also agreed to a one-year loan for Chelsea starlet, Billy Gilmour, who received Man of the Match awards in his Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, and European Championship debut starts. The 20-year-old Scottish midfielder oozes with quality and could feature heavily as a deep-lying playmaker and linkage between the attack and defense.
The loss of Buendia was a critical one, but his $42.24 million price tag gave the club the financial flexibility to make the transfer that they did; Norwich also lost three players on free transfers and sent six players on loan, cleaning their books and preparing for a relegation battle with a much smaller squad than they previously had.
Norwich looked impressive in the Championship last year, but that has become the expectation for them lately; there is still cause for caution, as they only secured 11 points from a possible 30 against the next five teams in the table. If they are expecting to survive by beating lower-tier teams and losing to higher-quality clubs next season, then they are in for a rude surprise.
Teemu Pukki does not have nearly the same scoring record in the Premier League as he does in the EFL, though he will be expected to find the nets at least 15 times next season if Norwich is to have a chance at avoiding the drop.
The club will be depending on Rashica and Gilmour primarily to improve the squad and play with the potential they have shown, though even then, the future is still bleak— as sad as it may be, Norwich could be headed back down for the second consecutive time in their Premier League history.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.