AFC Bournemouth face fellow relegation strugglers Norwich City this weekend in what is being described as a must win fixture.
The relegation six pointer could move Norwich within three points of the Cherries, who currently sit in 19th. A win for Bournemouth lifts them out of the relegation zone into 16th given results go their way. Eddie Howe’s side have hit a bad run of form, with only one win in their last 11 games – a streak which has seen the team lose nine games. Howe has seen his job come under scrutiny following the run of poor results but will be hoping his side can get a result against the Canaries, the team with the most goals conceded in the league.
Ahead of the game on Saturday, reporter and Norwich fan Jamie Bareham put together a list of the Canaries’ strengths and what Bournemouth fans can expect from the young City side.
5: Faith in the manager
Daniel Farke has been at Norwich for 2 years now, joining the club as they floated around the bottom of the Championship. Since then, the club have finished 14th in that season, but went on to win the league the following year, scoring 93 goals. Farke began his title winning season at Norwich only winning one of his first five and sitting 17th with fans calling for his sacking. However, the same season, the German got Norwich promoted with a defence consisting of three players below 21 and a striker who signed on a free transfer after flopping in Spain and Germany. Norwich fans believe Farke is the man to get them out of this slump just as he did before.
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4: A (so far) productive transfer window
The Canaries have brought in exciting attacking midfielder Ondrej Duda from Hertha BSC, his best season coming last year as he registered 18 goal involvements in 35 games. The midfielder sits in the number 10 role, occupied by Marco Stiepermann last year, and will look to free up some space for Norwich’s main man Teemu Pukki. Alongside Duda is experienced central midfielder Lukus Rupp. The German has played in the Bundesliga for 10 years, playing for teams such as Monchengladbach and Stuttgart. He also played alongside current midfielder Mario Vrancic, and will add a sense of rawness and break the mould of City’s midfield that has stagnated this season.
? Want to get to know the background of our first January signing? Check out the story so far of Ondrej Duda’s career! ⬇ #ncfc
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) January 14, 2020
3: The emergence of Todd Cantwell
A bit-part player in Norwich’s title winning campaign last season, Todd Cantwell has been one of the bright sparks in a dull season for the Canaries so far. Dubbed as ‘The Dereham Deco’, Cantwell has 6 goals and 2 assists this season, scoring against Premier League mainstays such as Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The 21-year-old is confident on the ball, not afraid to take players on and is playing with confidence which has seen him linked to Liverpool and Manchester United. With Bournemouth RB Adam Smith just returning from injury, Cantwell should feel confident he can get at the Cherries defence and improve his goalscoring tally for the season.
2: Two key players returning from injury
Last week’s disappointing 4-0 loss to Manchester United came with two key players missing the fixture through injury. 22-year-old Ben Godfrey suffered a knee ligament injury his side’s draw to Leicester in December. Godfrey, linked with Manchester United, broke into the side last year after an injury to experienced CB Timm Klose, and has gone on to captain the side and play for England U21’s. The most important return for Norwich has to be frontman Teemu Pukki. The free transfer has already scored 9 goals this year, and has been described as ‘important as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona’ by manager Daniel Farke. The Finn netted 29 goals in the title winning season, and the clinical finisher provides energy and work rate up front that the club have been missing.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) January 13, 2020
1: Confidence from earlier results
The Canaries have stunned some of the league’s biggest sides this year, and this should give them confidence going into this weekend’s relegation clash. Norwich stunned current Premier League winners Manchester City 3-2 at Carrow Road with a depleted squad earlier this season. Draws against top sides such as Tottenham, Leicester and Arsenal, in which City arguably should have won, and close encounters with Chelsea and Wolves have shown Norwich have the brand of attacking football ready made for the league. Results against the teams around them have seen them sit afoot of the table, but the players should know they can beat any team when they’re fit and firing.
AFC Bournemouth face Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday 18th January, and with a lot riding on the game, both teams will surely set out to prove they don’t deserve to sit at the bottom of the league.
Below is an exclusive Buzz infographic on the current situation at the bottom of the Premier League table: