Norwich have impressed many in their first appearances back in the Premier League. Consensus is that the 4-1 loss to Liverpool was not a true reflection of that game. They out-shot Liverpool in the first half (7-6) but found themselves 4-0 down at half-time. Going forward they created numerous chances against last season’s best defence and European Champions, but it seemed to be a case of first night nerves at the back.
An avoidable OG for the first goal didn’t help, and they came out on the wrong side of football pinball in the box for the second, while poor defending from a corner cost them a third, and failing to pick up a simple run into the box led to the fourth….
These were very preventable goals. The type of goals a team that’s fully up-to-speed do not concede.
The defence also gave up some chances in the next game against a very limited Newcastle attack. The absence of the influential Christoph Zimmerman at the back wouldn’t have helped, but he expects to return to full fitness in the next game or two.
Going forward seems to be their obvious strength. Like Bournemouth, they may take a hiding here and there, but the plan will be to score enough goals against teams around them to keep them up. This is what got them promoted last season. Their 97 was the most goals scored by any championship team since Bournemouth got promoted with 98 back in 2015. A massive part of that goal return was Teemu Pukki.
A free signing from Brondby last summer, he went on to score 29 goals. The most by a player in the Championship since Glenn Murray with 30 in 2013. Pukki also achieved this total without scoring any penalties. This would suggest he is an exceptional finisher but the question was could he step up and deliver in the Premier League?
With four goals from two games, the early answer has been an emphatic YES! He took his chance at Anfield exceptionally well, something the likes of Messi and Suarez failed to do last April. His hat-trick against Newcastle last week also showed us that Pukki has the skillset to take a wide range of chances. His volley for the first goal was struck so true that Dubravka could only manage to end up in the goal with the ball.
His second was like a controlled Harry Kane-type finish from the edge of the box. The third he ran on to very well, and a placed cut-back finish opposite to the direction he was running was assassin-like. All in all, it was better than your average hat-trick. If he continues like this then he is excellent value each-way at 22/1 in the Top Goalscorer market. Norwich’s assigned penalty taker Vrancic hasn’t started either game so it is possible Pukki will be on penalties too which help boost his end of season tally.
Lampard’s Chelsea started well against both United and Leicester. The playing style Frank is trying to implement is there to see. A central striker bringing support runners into play. This may be why we see more of Giroud than Abraham in the coming weeks as that is something Giroud does extremely well. The high intensity of those runners was difficult to maintain and was part of the reason Chelsea tailed off in both second halves, especially against Leicester.
Another change is Chelsea having seven shots per game from outside the box – 1 more than the average from last season. Lamps was a specialist in shooting from outside the box and he is encouraging his players to have a go from distance also. At that rate, if you fancy a punt and want a bigger price, the likes of Pedro to score from outside the box (16/1) could be worth a look, as he’s had three long-range shots in first two games already.
Chelsea are 15th in the table and their next four games are Norwich (a), Sheff Utd (h), Wolves (a), Liverpool at (h). Would a fair expectation be a minimum of six points from those? Anything less and Chelsea will be nearer the relegation zone than Top 4. That will put an end to any honeymoon period and really begin to test the goodwill of the Chelsea fans towards one of their favourite sons.
This is a scenario that we really believe could play out, starting with Chelsea failing to win this game. The tip and the value must be Norwich +1 at Evens. They have started life back in the top flight well and are unbeaten at home in 11 games (W8, D3). Cantwell at 21 years old is also one to watch with two assists last week, but all eyes will be on Teemu Pukki. We are tipping him up First Goalscorer (6/1) and to build the pressure on “Super” Frankie Lampard.