Norwich are staring down the barrel of the Premier League relegation gun, but remarkably, the trigger could be some way from being pulled with nine games to save their skin.
The Canaries are six points adrift going into the final stretch of the campaign with a cluster of teams still in the relegation mix above them.
For a team who have been rooted in the bottom three for most of the season, a six point gap is not actually the worst position they could find themselves in, there’s still a chance, and Daniel Farke will be desperate for his players to seize it.
We round up everything you need to know while we also spoke exclusively to former Norwich favourite Dean Ashton for his thoughts on the remaining Premier League fixtures.
Check out your complete guide to Norwich’s 2019/20 season ahead of the Premier League restart.
Norwich in 2019/20
Manager: Daniel Farke
Top scorer: Teemu Pukki (11)
Most assists: Emiliano Buendia (7)
Check out our full list of Norwich fixtures 2019/20.
You really can look at that six-point gap in two extremely different lights. You can either see their predicament as a lost cause, after all, they’ve only won five games all season and need two more just to draw level assuming all teams above them lose.
Or you could see the situation as a ‘not dead yet’ fight to the finish, for all the negativity levied at the Canaries, they remain in with a shot, and the season pause may have done the world of good for their state of mind. Their season starts here, so to speak.
Stay with me here… To quote Lt. Spiers from Band of Brothers: “The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function.”
Norwich’s players must return without fear, they must burst out of the gates with aggression. Failure to do either could result in a meek end, but there really is a chance for Norwich to pull off the spectacular here.
Farke won’t change his system, he will go down playing ‘nice’ football or stay up playing ‘nice’ football. Whether that’s admirable or foolish is yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain, their first two or three games back will define their season.
Dean Ashton says…
Q: What do you make of Norwich’s season so far?
DA: I think in terms of style, it has been what Norwich fans wanted, especially compared to seasons gone by when they’ve gone into the Premier League. They’ve still kept that identity in the way they’re playing, that’s what’s been positive. Because I live in the city as well, I haven’t seen any real negativity, which, again, in previous seasons when they’ve been in this position, there’s been a lot of negativity around – certainly at the game. And there hasn’t been that. They’ve been right behind the team, and they’ve almost gone: look, if they go down, at least they’ve played the way they want to play, and it’s still been enjoyable to watch.
I think as an ex-player, I would want to win, regardless of the style. But I think that times are definitely changing. I think that supporters, with how much football costs nowadays, don’t just want their team to turn up and sit there and try to grind out one-nil wins. I think the days of that are coming to an end. I really do feel like that.
That’s the change that I’ve seen, certainly in Norwich. It’s that they’ve identified a style they want to play. They’ve identified players that can play in that way. I don’t think they can play any other way. I don’t think they’ve got the players to do that, unless you’re looking to play a different system. They haven’t got the players to sit back and defend, and try to be physically imposing. They’re just not that type of team.
Q: Which players have impressed you most?
DA: I think Buendía’s stood out. I think if you look at, you know, his chances created, he’s right up there in the top five, alongside the likes of Kevin De Bruyne who is out in front. So in terms of chances created, I’ve been so impressed. He’s got a bit of everything. Although he’s small and technical, he picks up great positions, and he’s got a sort of gritty side to him. He doesn’t mind sticking his foot in. I’ve been really impressed. I think Todd Cantwell as well. I’ve been really interested to see how he’s progressed into this season, stepping up a level. He’s got so much talent. I think as he grows into his physique – I can only see him getting better and better and better.
And I think Tim Krul has had a bit of a resurgence after having a bit of criticism last year, because he didn’t look natural playing out from the back, but he’s improved at that. He was always a top goalkeeper. At Newcastle, I always thought he was a good goalkeeper. But having had the bad injuries that he’s had, I think he’s come back really well, and he’s been arguably the star man – albeit, he’s had to be very busy.
Q: Which players have disappointed? Who has a point to prove?
DA: I think Teemu Pukki. He was outstanding to start with, he’s had a good season, but I think he’ll feel as if he’s missed a lot of chances, certainly in the middle third of the season, I would say. He will look back and think, ‘I could have stuck away a few more of those chances’. And he’ll feel like he wants to come back and really prove how good he was at the start of the season. There are players too like Timm Klose who haven’t been in the team, who are going to maybe benefit from this time off – players that have been injured, who will look to come back in and impress.
Q: What effect will lockdown have on the team?
DA: As a player you rarely get that amount of time with your family, and time just to rest and recover. In terms of the physical side? I think it’ll benefit everybody. But what I do think that Norwich could really benefit from is there not being any fans in the stadiums. Their away form has been really, really poor, and I think that that could be a real benefit to them when it just comes down to playing on the pitch and hopefully playing their way. They were just starting to improve before the lockdown. I think that’s something they could really benefit from.
Q: How do you rate Daniel Farke this season?
DA: I’ve been impressed in the fact that he’s stuck to his guns. He hasn’t been pressured into changing their style, which other managers in the past have done. You know, I commend him for that because as a manager, if you think that you want your team to play a certain way regardless of the result, then I think you should. I’ve been impressed with him in that sense. He’s always pretty positive anyway. The club are happy because they’ve changed their thinking behind the scenes, and they want to play this style of football. At the moment, I think he’s the perfect man to do that. And they’ve calculated so that if the worse does happen, they’re still in a great position, and hopefully he can carry on and bring them back even stronger.
Q: Where will Norwich finish in the Premier League this season?
DA: I think they’ll feel like they’ve got a really good chance still to get some results when we get back playing. Look, we’ve seen teams before that have been in this position, and it sometimes just takes something silly – a result, a goal that maybe you don’t deserve, or something like that. We’ve seen it in the past. It can happen. And they’ve got hope that they’ll get off to a great start because, you know, if they lose their first game against Southampton, then I think confidence is going to be low, and it’s going to be difficult. I really feel as if that first game will determine whether they’ll stay up or go down. I really do. I think it’s that important.
Looking for all the remaining Premier League matches and how to watch them? Check out our Premier League fixtures guide.