Football News

Pukki party over: Norwich’s decline since slaying Man City explained by numbers

By CJ Smith

Norwich stats explaining the decline of the team that beat Premier League champions Man City.

Published: 11:34, 13 November 2019 | Updated: 12:41, 25 February 2020

Norwich City have been in absolute freefall since their shock 3-2 win over Manchester City back in September.

Despite negotiating a raft of injuries, the Canaries saw off the defending champions with an expertly executed gameplan and some incredibly stylish football, leaving them 13th in the Premier League table after five games.

That day, however, appeared to be the summit for the Norfolk side, with a total of one draw and six defeats in the seven games to have followed leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table and contemplating another yo-yo relegation back to the Championship.

So, just what has been behind their sudden decline?

Blunted attack

There’s no doubting the key to Norwich’s fine start to the season was driven by the remarkable, and somewhat unexpected goal drive from Teemu Pukki.

The Finland international tore into the new season, bagging 10 goals and two assists in his first nine games for club and country. However, since the win over Man City, Pukki has managed just two goals, both of which came in Finland‘s 2-0 win over Armenia in October.

That’s seven games without a direct goal involvement for the Canaries, having scored six in five Premier League matches, earning Pukki August’s Player of the Month award.

“Everyone is aware that he is really a threat, of course it makes life a bit more difficult, that’s for sure.”

Daniel Farke on defenders paying more attention to Pukki.

In fact, since that win over Man City, Norwich have had 86 shots with only 19 hitting the target bringing two goals. The Canaries have the worst conversion rate in the Premier League during that time at 2.33%. Pukki has been responsible for 17 of those efforts, hitting the target on six occasions at an average of 0.87 per 90 minutes.

Aside from Pukki, the rest of the Norwich squad combined has just five goals between them in the Premier League so far this season and for a team predicated on its attack flair, this is certainly not a good sign.

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Leaking at the back

It’s hard enough to stay afloat in the Premier League when the goals dry up but when you cannot keep a clean sheet for love nor money, this will, of course, be even more difficult.

Only Southampton (29) have conceded more goals this season than Norwich (28) – hardly surprising given their 9-0 drubbing against Leicester City – while no side has kept fewer than their single clean sheet this season. Tottenham Hotspur are the surprise team they share that particular stat with.

The Canaries have faced the second-highest number of shots (208) of any Premier League side this season and most worryingly for supporters is that even going back to last season, this lack of solidity is something of a theme. Despite winning the Championship, Norwich (57) conceded more goals than the likes of 16th-placed Stoke City (52) and ninth-placed Nottingham Forest (54).

Injury list

You can criticise Farke and that Norwich defence all you want, but before you do, consider the fact that they currently have three centre-backs injured, representing an improvement to the demand being placed on their treatment table.

Norwich City’s current injury list

  • Grant Hanley (groin – potential return 08/12/19)
  • Christoph Zimmermann (ankle – potential return 01/12/19)
  • Timm Klose (knee – potential return 01/06/20)
  • Josip Drmic (hamstring – potential return unknown)

In fact, so far this season, the Canaries’ squad has missed a combined 86 (eighty-six!) games due to injury or suspension.

Norwich spent under £5m during the summer and that lack of financial clout is now coming back to haunt them as a threadbare squad is stretched to its limit. Farke has recently admitted that, despite reaping the rewards of Premier League football, the club couldn’t actually afford to spend any more during the summer.

He said: “After having so many injuries you would have wanted to do more but in the summer to sign more quality it would have cost £10million or £15m to do that and it was not possible.”

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