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Norwich 2015/16 Season Preview

Last seasons campaign had been up and down for Norwich, after flying out of the blocks to top the league in September, to a run of losses dropping them to 11th and parting company with former manager Neil Adams. After Christmas however the Canaries hired Alex Neil to get their act together and managed impressive wins over Bournemouth and Watford to put them back in contention. Coming close to automatic promotion, bar a loss to play-off rivals Middlesbrough, Alex Neil’s side stormed through the play-off semi-final against Ipswich setting yet another date with Middlesbrough in the final. Odds were even for the final but that was far from true on the pitch, Norwich dominating from the off-set and coming away with the win and an immediate bounce back to the top flight.

History in the Premier League

Norwich have featured on multiple occasions in the Premier League while never really establishing themselves as a top flight club. Most notably in the 2013/14 season in which Luis Suarez tore them apart with 5 goals in 2 games to help send them back into Football League territory. Surprisingly the Canaries have had a top 4 finish in recent history, finishing the 1992/93 season in 3rd place behind only Manchester United and Aston Villa. Since then however they have only managed 6 seasons in the premier league without a single finish in the top half of the table.

Norwich’s Promotion Team

The Canaries squad, having a wide range of players with Premier League experience, was widely tipped for automatic promotion. While they may have struggled under previous management, Alex Neil brought with him the consistency needed to regain their position amongst the top flight teams. Neil, for the most part, operated with a 4-5-1 formation, with Redmond and Bradley Johnson highly effective in supporting Jerome/Grabban up top.

Used Substitutes & Rotated Players

Here are the most commonly rotated players from the 2014/15 season. Please not the brackets indicate how many total appearances were made and the number of substitute appearances made.

Grabban (35)-(23)

Hooper (30)-(16)

Turner (23)-(22)

O’Neil (21)-(10)

Lafferty (18)-(11)

Dorrans (15)-(12)

Formation Preferences & Utility Players

Alex Neil’s most commonly used choice of formation was the 4-5-1. This allowed for a strong defensive line and midfield to hold the ball in Canary possession and the two wide men to assist and score alongside a target man in the middle. This was proven to be effective with end of season figures. Norwich managed the 3rd best defensive record and 2nd best loss record while also scoring the most goals at Home and 3rd most overall.

Norwich’s Key Men & Stats

While Norwich eventually secured their place in the top flight it was no walk in the park, requiring a large squad and a lot of rotation to get there. There were however several standout players amongst the Canary ranks. Here we look at the stats to identify those pivotal players. Please note all stats are taken from the regular Championship season only.

Most Appearances

John Ruddy: 46

Russel Martin©: 45

Nathan Redmond: 43

Martin Olsson: 42

Bradley Johnson: 41

Cameron Jerome: 41

Wes Hoolahan: 36 (11 from the bench)

Goals

Cameron Jerome: 18

Bradley Johnson: 15

Lewis Grabban: 12

Gary Hooper: 12

Jonathon Howson: 8

Nathan Redmond: 5

Wes Hoolahan: 4

A season total of 88 goals across 46 games represents an excellent haul with a ratio of almost 2 goals per game. 15 players contributed to this impressive total with the attackers leading the line. Interestingly Bradley Johnson, a player who has been used from CDM to Left Wing, scored the second highest. Looking at the strikers Cameron Jerome is the most obvious goal threat and most likely to be given game time in the coming season. Grabban and Hooper look likely to be used rotationally or as subs and therefore it is difficult to put faith, and more importantly, valuable FPL investment on their shoulders. As midfield options go Bradley Johnson is a stand out player for goal returns. There were no defensive players offering a significant goal threat.

Assists

Nathan Redmond: 12

Wes Hoolahan: 10

Gary Hooper: 6

Cameron Jerome: 6

Russel Martin©: 5

Jonathon Howson: 5

Out in front in the assists chart is Nathan Redmond with a very respectable 12 assists, the wide man played a crucial part in build-up play and chance creation throughout a tough season. Wes Hoolahan, while playing a bit part role last season, ranks in second with 10 assists. His role in the coming season is yet to be determined and FPL potential will be based on eventual game time. Cameron Jerome once again features high in the rankings with 6 assists from a lone striker role. Captain Russel Martin also produced 5 assists from central defence.

Clean Sheets

John Ruddy: 14

John Ruddy has played a key role for Norwich over the last 2 seasons he is yet to miss a minute of game time. While having to deal with a change in management and a rotating CB partnership in front of him, Ruddy was able to record 14 clean sheets to his name. An ever present force both in the dressing room and on the pitch, the 6’’4 shot stopper is almost certainly a guaranteed starter with plenty of save points potential. Priced at just 4.5mill he’s sure to be one to watch.

Disciplinary

Bradley Johnson: 13Y, 1R

Alexander Tettey: 13Y

Martin Olsson: 9Y, 1R

Russel Martin: 8Y

Cameron Jerome: 7Y

Kyle Lafferty: 6Y

The Canaries disciplinary record makes for interesting reading. While Bradley Johnson racked up 13 yellow and one red card it is important to note that many of these bookings came while playing in a deeper role. If he is able to keep his place out wide, the likelihood of reaching this number will drastically reduce. Swedish Left Back Martin Olsson tops the bookings table for the defence, while Cameron Jerome ended the season on 7 yellows. While these numbers may put some FPL managers off, please remember this was stretched over a 46 game period in a heavily contested and arguably more physical division.

Overall Record

In last year’s Championship season they won 25 of their 46 fixtures, losing 10 and drew 11. With only 2 teams losing less games, Norwich will hope they can continue this defensive minded play as effectively into the Premier League. With the caliber of attack minded players vastly improved this may prove a struggle and force a more counter attacking style of play.

Home & Away Form

Recording 12 Home and 13 Away wins last season it would suggests there is no obvious advantage to playing at Carrow Road. This statement is further backed up by the fact Norwich recorded 5 losses both at Home and away. However when looking into match stats we can see a difference in net goals scored with 50 while playing at home to just 38 while on the road. The Canaries will need to attempt to make Carrow Road into a fortress for next season if they are to survive.

Transfer Activity

It’s been a rather quiet start to the transfer market so far for the Canaries, making just two transfers to date. Graham Dorrans returns after impressing on Load last season, while Norwich further invade West Brom for Youssuf Mulumbu on a free transfer. No significant squad members have been sold so far. With the season fast approaching we can expect further attempts to strengthen their squad with the likes of Hull City wide man Robbie Brady on their radar.

Player Name Former Club Fee

Graham Dorrans West Brom Undisclosed

Youssuf Mulumbu West Brom Free Transfer

Andre Wisdom Liverpool Season Loan

Robbie Brady Hull City £7,000,000

Current FPL Squad

As of the 3rd August 2015 this is the full FPL Squad for Norwich City for the upcoming season. Under the ‘position’ column we have added the positions the players are most known for playing and can play.

Captain: Russel Martin

Category/Position/Price

Goalkeepers

John Ruddy – GK – 4.5

Declan Rudd – GK – 4.0

Defenders

Sebastien Bassong – CB – 4.5

Steven Whittaker – RB – 4.5

Russel Martin© - CB – 4.5

Martin Olssen – LB – 4.5

Andre Wisdom - RB/CB - 4.5

Michael Turner – CB – 4.0

Ryan Bennet – CB – 4.0

Midfielders

Bradley Johnson – LM – 5.5

Nathan Redmond – RM – 5.5

Robbie Brady - LB/LM - 5.5

Wes Hoolahan – CM – 5.0

Jonathon Howson – CM – 5.0

Graham Dorrans – CM – 5.0

Alexander Tettey – CDM – 4.5

Gary O’Neil – CM – 4.5

Elliott Bennett – RM/LM – 4.5

Youssuf Mulumbu – CDM – 4.5

Forwards

Cameron Jerome – ST – 5.0

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel – ST – 5.0

Lewis Grabban – ST – 4.5

Gary Hooper – ST – 4.5

Kyle Lafferty – ST – 4.5

Set-Piece Takers

If you’re a set-piece slave then this is all you need to know about Norwich City FC. With Set piece takers promising chances of higher points it’s important to know who is taking what. With Norwich however, there are several variables to consider.

Penalties: Wes Hoolahan, Graham Dorrans, Lewis Grabban

Direct Free Kicks: Wes Hoolahan, Graham Dorrans, Nathan Redmond

Indirect Free Kicks: Wes Hoolahan, Nathan Redmond, Graham Dorrans

Corners: Nathan Redmond, Wes Hoolahan

While this looks like there are clear cut set-piece takers it is far from it. With Hoolahan and Dorrans likely to rotate, the pecking order is likely to change with each fixture, or potentially even each half. Wes Hoolahan remains the most likely for Penalties and Direct Free Kicks for those willing to take the risk.

Potential Squad for Opening Day & Season

Alex Neil is expected to stick with his favored 4-5-1 for the coming season. Starting with a trip to PL wildcards Crystal Palace, it would make sense to stick with what they know. Here is their likely starting XI.

The only positions we believe are in risk of rotation are the central midfield spots. You've got Mulumbu and Tettey fighting for the anchor role, with Dorrans battling Howson and Hoolahan for a place in the middle of the park. Lewis Grabban might also feature, on occasion, should Jerome be unavailable.

With the latter additions of Brady and Wisdom, with Olsson potentially injured, this could be how they line-up against Palace.

Norwich's First Ten

Seeing as 6 of the first 10 fixtures can be considered as favorable (Palace, Sunderland, Bournemouth, Leicester, Newcastle & West Brom) and without facing any of last season’s top four, there is hope for Norwich, At least as far as FPL potential is concerned.

Verdict

Defensive Options

GK John Ruddy (4.5mill)

At just 4.5mill Ruddy is a budget starting goalkeeper with previous PL experience. With promising first ten fixtures there is plenty of potential for clean sheets if the Norwich defence stands firm. In this price range however there are a number of other starting Goalkeepers at more premier league ready clubs. This factor could sway FPL managers away from the England international. At the Hype train we rank Ruddy as a top FPL option, at least as a rotational GK for the start of the season.

CB Russel Martin (4.5mill)

Captain and Centre back Russel Martin is our pick at the back with a budget price tag and favorable fixtures he could be used as a rotational option in the FPL. With a surprisingly present attacking threat to add to his FPL CV he’s worth a look.CM Wes Hoolahan 5.0millThe ‘Irish Messi’ has a lot of FPL potential as first choice on Penalties and Direct Free Kicks. The only question is, Will he play? That is a difficult question to answer and one we have battled with here at the hype train. While his price tag is also very tempting it’s hard to put so much faith in a player with such rotation risk.

Attacking Options

LM Bradley Johnson (5.5mill)

Scoring 15 goals while being used as a midfield utility player until the end stages of last season is an impressive feat. If he is able to hang on to the wide role we would expect the goals to continue. If not it’s unlikely he’ll play more than a small part in the FPL.

RM Nathan Redmond (5.5mill)

Similarly to Bradley Johnson, with 17 attacking returns last season, we would expect Redmond to continue with his impressive chance creation and assists. Another player priced at 5.5mill in a team likely to struggle makes him difficult to put money into. He is almost certainly going to keep his role out wide will likely be their most vital player.

ST Cameron Jerome 5.0mill

With 18 goals in regular season and 2 in the play-offs, Jerome is a proven goalscorer. In previous premier league campaigns he has struggled but with Norwich he seems to have found form. At 5.0mill he is the cheapest starting striker from the promoted clubs.

Norwich City FC are going to struggle this season. That is a statement that is very easy to make, given that almost 2/3 promoted teams are relegated in their first season. For them to survive they will require more consistency than the rollercoaster of last year, while also improving their attacking threat. The Hype train Predicts a season finish of between 15th-20th place, most likely one of the latter places.

All aboard?

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