Monday, 20 July 2015

Canary Watch: Norwich City FC (Guest Post)

Having done my piece on Bournemouth, I have been asked to write something similar on Norwich and Watford.  The Norwich side that won promotion via the play-offs are very different to the dismal team that Chris Hughton led for most of previous stint in the Premier League. Their Championship record under new manager Alex Neil is admirable. In his 25 league games in charge to date, Norwich won 17 and lost 3, scoring 50 goals and conceding 21 in the process. With an average of 2 goals scored and less than one against per game, clearly the Canaries are worth a look at the very least!

Don't try knocking this fella off his perch!

First 8 Games

August

Crystal Palace (H)

Sunderland (A)

Stoke (H)

Southampton (A)

September

Bournemouth (H)

Liverpool (A)

West Ham (A)

October

Leicester (H)

After a quick look at Norwich's opening fixtures, there's obvious FPL points potential at both ends of the field. Except for the Southampton and Liverpool games, their attackers will have decent opportunities to score and all the home games listed provide CS opportunities.

Goalkeepers

John Ruddy (4.5)
Still very much Norwich's number one man between the sticks. 6ft 4in, a good shot stopper and capped for England, Ruddy has ability. The only question, therefore, is whether he has the necessary defensive line in front of him to help him get CS points. Right now, as I write this in July, I don't think he does. However, there is still plenty of time for new signings to make Ruddy more attractive.

Declan Rudd (4.0)
Unless Ruddy gets injured, there's no point putting Rudd in your squad.

Verdict: As of now, there are better GKs available at 4.5 than Ruddy (Krul, Speroni, Guzan, Boruc). That said, I think he could be a fantastic option if Norwich bolster their defence.

Defenders

S├ębastien Bassong (4.5)
Solid CB who is unlikely to get dropped. I always try to sign defenders with attacking potential and Bassong doesn't offer this enough. I think Norwich have better options than him from the back.

Steven Whittaker (4.5)
This Scotsman likes to get forward and does pick up assists and the odd goal. He got 2 goals and 4 assists last season in the Championship. He's no Terry or Ivanovic but he is available at a good price. While he played almost every game last season (40 games inc. Plays offs), reports seem to be suggesting that his position in the starting XI is not guaranteed with Norwich in the hunt for a new RB.

Russell Martin (4.5)
Another Scotland international, Martin is Norwich's captain. His attacking returns were limited to 2 goals last term. Again, there are better options to choose from.

Martin Olsson (4.5)
Olssons is a marauding full back who loves to get forward. He was a starter all last seasomnn. Unfortunately, he has had shoulder surgery so it's impossible to be certain that he will be ready for GW1. Reports in the media say he will be fine. Wait and see if he plays in later pre-season games before making a decision.

Turner/R Bennett (4.0)
Not worth a place because they won't get enough playing time. Give them a skip.

Verdict:
For me, the choice boils down to Whitty and Olsson, the two full backs.  In my opinion, Olsson is the safer option as long as he's fit for GW1.

Midfielders
Graham Dorrans (5.0)
The former West Brom man is well known to FPL players. He managed to notch up 3 goals in 14 games since arriving at Carrow Road in January and also appears to be Norwich's main set piece taker when he is on the field. Having said that, he's too pricey for me to consider.

Youssuf Mulumbu (4.5)
A defensive midfielder who'll be a rock in midfield. He is a great signing for Norwich but he'll be no good for points in FPL, just look at the fact that he scored only 15 goals in 191 appearances for the Baggies before he moved! Avoid him.

Bradley Johnson (5.5)
Norwich's player of the season last year. New signings elsewhere may mean he will most likely be utilised further up the field next year. If he manages to play to his standards last season, he would be a must have. He hit the back of the net 15 times from midfield and got 2 assists. The drawback to Johnson is that he got 13 yellow cards and a red last season. I live in fear when I have players like that in my squad. Risk vs Reward!

Nathan Redmond (5.5)
The most enticing player on the Norwich team sheet. The starlet got 5 goals and 12 assists last season and will only improve as he acquires experience. If you need any more convincing, he was selected in the team of the tournament at the Euro U21s too. Yes he's pricey, but he's worth it!

Wes Hoolahan (5.0)
The Irish media constantly cry out for our man "Wessi" to be started. Why? Because he's creative and finds a way to make chances in tight games. He also takes Norwich's penalties. I would fear Wes won't play every game as his 33 years catch up with him but if he's playing and in form, he would be a brilliant differential.

Jonny Howson (5.0)
If he's playing well and starting, he would be worth consideration. Unfortunately, we can't be guaranteed either of the above. Hold off and jump on if things are going well.

Anthony Andreu (4.5)
The Frenchman arrived to Carrow Road in the New Year but has so far been limited to cameo appearances (6). However if he gets a run in the team, the attack minded CM could grab FPL points. In his final 23 league games in the Scottish Premiership for Hamilton, he scored 12 goals and assisted another 6. Hold off for now but keep him on your watch list!

Alex Tettey (4.5)
Sits in front of the defence as protection. Picks up cards like there's no tomorrow and rarely scores. Not an FPL option.

O'Neil/E Bennett (4.5)
Will hardly play. Will be subs at best. Don't bother.

Verdict:
For me, Redmond is the man to choose. He is disciplined, developing and racks up points. He'll certainly be in my GW1 team. Johnson and Hoolahan are both options but I don't see a reason why you'd pick them ahead of Redmond.

Forwards

Cameron Jerome (5.0)
City's main attackimg outlet. He got a very respectable 20 goals and 7 assists in 41 games last season in the championship. He has failed to make the cut in the Premier League in the past but could be an absolute steal at that price. It's worth noting that his pre-season form has so far been good against low quality opposition.

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (5.0)
I know! I thought the same thing too! Why is he still at Norwich after that dismal relegation season where he got only one goal? I have no answer to that. He probably won't make it to GW1 at Carrow Road. If he is somehow still there, don't go near him with a 12 foot barge pole!

Lewis Grabban (4.5)
This man is an enigma. I'm not sure what to think. He got 12 goals in 23 starts throughout the season BUT when he came back from a few months out with injury, he got sent off for punching a Rotherham player. 4.5 could be great value depending. Will I be Grabban him? Not until he proves he can deal with the pace of the Premier League.

Gary Hooper (4.5)
12 goals in 16 starts last season sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Why then is it only 16 starts? Hooper's playing time is unexplainable and downright confusing. Transfer rumours say he may be heading off to reunite with Neil Lennon at Bolton. Too much mystery surrounds Hooper for him to make my GW1 squad.

Kyle Lafferty (4.5)
Heroic for Northern Ireland in Euro Qualification, yet tossed aside at Norwich. He probably won't start so don't consider him.

Verdict: Jerome is your best choice if he manages to adapt to the top-flight  this time around. Then again, all of Norwich's forwards are too risky for me for GW1 anyhow.

Overall Summary:
Ruddy could be a great choice if the defence is boosted. Choose at your own discretion between Whittaker and Olsson.  But consider pickng Redmond in midfield without a second thought. Dodge the forwards - there's no peace of mind in selecting any of them (yet?).

Thanks for reading!