As Preston North End roll into the fine City for a reunion with old manager, Alex Neil, the current Head Coach knows that only a win will satisfy the Canary Nation.
It’s been a hard start to the 2018/19 Championship season for the Canaries with just a solitary point gained from the opening three matches of the season.
Whilst there have been signs of progress in the forward areas, the bottom line is that one point is not good enough, despite there being very fine margins between the results in all three games played so far.
Alex Neil’s PNE have had an average start to the season, with one win, one draw and one defeat, the subplot here is Neil returning to try to beat his old employers has perhaps been overlooked in the build-up.
Alec will play it down, as you’d expect, but he’d love to stick to Norwich City, I’m sure.
However, he will have to do that without striker, Paul Gallagher, who will start a three-match retrospective ban following a loose elbow thrown at Stoke’s Joe Allen during Saturday’s 2-2 draw. It was missed by the referee on the day and will help us out a little tonight.
Calum Woods also seems likely to sit this one out with a hamstring problem.
In terms of the Canaries, the good news is that Todd Cantwell and Ivo Pinto have both returned to the squad following illness. If selected, Pinto could be the only one of Alex Neil’s signings to play tonight, if Timm Klose doesn’t make the squad.
Interest in the Swiss international has been extensive since the weekend with Hannover 96 being linked heavily with a move for the former Wolfsburg defender and now being joined by Basel, according to the print edition of the Daily Star. The Star doesn’t strike me as the most reliable source but Timm started out at Basel, so it’s an easy link to make.
If he doesn’t appear in the squad or even start the game, then I think we can fear the worst. We’ll know at 6.45pm tonight.
Other than that, Kenny McLean is out until after the international break, Matt Jarvis is out with no return in sight but Carlton Morris is back in training, which is good news. I’d be amazed if he plays before November time but it’s still good to hear that his recovery from his ACL operation has gone well.
With Jamal Lewis now filling the left back slot again and Ivo Pinto fit also fit, I wonder if Daniel Farke will persist with Ben Marshall, a winger by trade, at right back?
It would make sense to me to play Pinto at right back and then push Marshall further forward, wouldn’t it?
I mentioned earlier that there are shoots of positivity going forwards and the stats, so beloved of Herr Farke, appear to bear this out.
Out of Rhodes’ 10 shots, 5 have come inside the 6-yard box. Only 2 of his shots haven’t been on target, 1 of which hit the post.
— Norwich City Stats (@NorwichFCStats) August 21, 2018
Get Marshall further up the field with his crossing ability and things should improve even more.
In terms of the forward players, Rhodes, Pukki and obviously Hernandez are currently picking themselves. It’s the midfield that are causing me a few issues though.
If Marshall plays on the right then Pukki can move behind Rhodes, which looks a better balance to me. The central midfield options appear to revolve around Trybull, Tettey (If he isn’t rested with one eye on Leeds), Leitner, Thompson and Godfrey.
If Klose isn’t involved then Godfrey could replace him at the back and I’d prefer him there ahead of big Christoph Zimmermann.
As we’re at home and we are supposed to press the game, I don’t think we need two holding midfielders. I’d hand that role to Thompson and then pick Leitner to dictate the play and pick those passes.
I know there’s been a bit of moaning about him so far but I have yet to see him live this season as I missed the first two Carrow Road matches so far, due to being on holiday.
If we can get him firing then we should have a big player on our hands.
PNE seem to be a rather defensively organised side under Alex Neil, which is surprising as he couldn’t defend his way out of a paper bag when he was in charge here. I guess you play to the strengths of your squad though.
It won’t be an easy game but it’s a game we can and really do need to win.