Norwich City’s return to the Premier League was confirmed on April 17th without any of their players having kicked a ball. Brentford and Swansea’s failure to pick up maximum points meant that the Canaries had booked their place in the top flight ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
The club have kept hold of their manager as well as the majority of those players who helped them to reach the ‘promised land’ two seasons ago.
Although this is both an admirable and clearly successful approach, it is likely to result in the East Anglian side being written off by the majority of pundits.
At the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, they were priced up as odds-on favourites for relegation, and the majority of bookmakers are likely to take a similar stance this summer.
Pre-season ante-post wagering is extremely popular with football punters and the majority of top betting website, all of whom have been collated by BettingTop10, are likely to have the 2021-22 relegation market priced up by the beginning of June and Norwich will undoubtedly feature prominently.
What Happened Last Time?
Norwich started the season brightly and provided some truly memorable moments for their fans. Entertainment was rarely in short supply and despite finding themselves on the wrong end of early-season defeats to both Liverpool and Chelsea, they approached each of those games with plenty of gusto.
They enjoyed a decent November/December and managed to record victories over both Everton and Bournemouth. They also picked up notable draws against Spurs and Arsenal and at this stage, survival looked entirely possible.
However, they picked up just four points from mid-January onwards and slipped out of the top flight with barely a whimper.
What do Norwich Need to do Differently?
Their previous foray into the Premier League was wholly unsuccessful, however, they did show some initial promise including beating Manchester City at Carrow Road.
However, as decisions started to go against them, and injuries decimated the squad, they hit the buffers and ended the campaign with ten consecutive defeats.
Daniel Farke must ensure that his side don’t make the same mistakes, and recruitment will be key. They scored a league-low 26 goals during their previous Premier League campaign, and ensuring that they have plenty of creativity in the final third will be absolutely essential.
They failed to find the back of the net in nine of their last ten Premier League outings and often looked bereft of ideas going forward. They have prioritised defending this season, however, they’ve shown enough quality at the other end of the pitch.
Director of Football Stuart Webber has admitted that they ‘got it wrong’ last time out, and it appears as though everyone at the club has learnt from their previous errors.
They played some very attractive football during the first few weeks of the season, and received plenty of plaudits for their attack-minded approach against Liverpool, despite losing 4-1. They scored nine times in their opening five games and were far more effective when they took the game to their opponents.
If they can produce similarly energetic displays against their fellow newly promoted sides as well as mid-table opposition, they should be able to pick up enough points to survive.
Can They Survive?
Norwich have maintained the spine of the squad which got them promoted two seasons ago, and the majority of these players should be far more streetwise this time around.
Players such as TeemuPukki and Todd Cantwell didn’t look out of place in the top flight, however there is likely to be plenty of interest in the latter.
As the Daily Telegraph explain, Emi Buendia has been key to their success this season, and the club will be hoping to tie down the diminutive midfield magician to a long-term deal this summer.
If he can continue his progress and recreate his Championship heroics, he could potentially give Norwich an edge against lower-half opposition such as Burnley, Newcastle and Brighton.
The East Anglian side have used the loan market successfully this season with the likes of Oliver Skipp and Ben Gibson adding some much needed quality to the squad.
If they aren’t prepared to splash out during the summer months, they may have to rely upon this approach once again.
With Norwich having looked odds-on for promotion since early March, the club’s hierarchy will have undoubtedly starting planning for Premier League life for a number of months.
Burnley followed a similar blueprint in 2015-16 and after a single season in the second tier, they have subsequently established themselves as Premier League regulars.
The Canaries will be hoping to follow a similar trajectory and they can learn plenty of lessons from the Clarets.
If Norwich can beat the sides around them in the table and ensure that very few sides leave Carrow Road with maximum points next season.
Although they picked up some decent results along the way, Norwich lost 12 of their 19 home matches two seasons ago, and they simply must be tougher to breach on their own patch.
Improving their home form, using the loan market effectively and maintaining the core of their current squad should give them every chance of avoiding another instant return to the Championship.