We’ve got to start by discussing the FA Cup tie against Chelsea nine days ago. What was the mood like after defeat on penalties?
It was a difficult game at Stamford Bridge and it was cruel to lose on penalties, but as soon as the final whistle was blown there was a feeling of pride tinged with the question of where it would leave them. Norwich had already been in a similar position when they played Arsenal in the Carabao Cup earlier in the season and lost the following fixture 2-1 to Derby County. Everyone was hoping they’d learned their lessons from that, but it didn’t quite turn out that way against Sheffield United. In both games Norwich pushed Chelsea pretty hard and gave a good account of themselves.
Prior to that defeat against Sheffield United Norwich had gone six games unbeaten in all competitions; what caused the upturn in form over the festive period?
The biggest factor was Alex Tettey coming back into the team. He’d been out injured for nearly two months with a nasty problem that involved bleeding on his calf muscle, which was something the medical team had to be really sure of. He made a couple of substitute appearances and started against Birmingham City on Boxing Day and they won 2-0 there. He’s a very experienced player who earned plenty of international caps for Norway and played for Norwich in the Premier League. He’s been with the club for quite a while now and is actually out of contract this summer, but Tettey brings a steel to the midfield that Norwich don’t otherwise have – he’s the guy who puts out the fires and protects the defence.
There have been a number of other high-profile departures including the sale of Cameron Jerome to Derby. Are the club likely to reinvest those funds before the transfer window closes?
To an extent, but they won’t be spending big. They have delicately balanced finances, which are in order, but, as I’ve mentioned before, they’ve had to cut their costs significantly as Premier League parachute payments stop at the end of the season. They have to spend sensibly, and they’ve talked about the importance of Academy players coming through and we’re seeing that with Jamal Lewis, who has pretty much made the left-back position his own. He’s looked very impressive for a 19-year-old and scored the goal at Chelsea in the Third-Round replay. They are also going to have to seek lower-league gems as they are now firmly in the Championship – they aren’t a club like Wolverhampton Wanderers who have a sugar daddy to fund them in the transfer market. Some of the money will be banked, but wages played a part too, particularly with the loan departures of Steven Naismith and Russell Martin who were on Premier League salaries. It seems unlikely they’ll be spending millions before the end of the window.
How is Daniel Farke likely to set up his side at Griffin Park?
It’s pretty likely that it’ll be a 4-2-3-1 formation. He tried to play a 4-1-4-1 earlier in the season but soon found that in the Championship, you need extra bodies in defence a lot of the time. Once they got Alex Tettey into the team earlier in the season before his injury, they found a really solid balance in defence and midfield. The problem they’ve been faced with is scoring goals both home and away, but as they set up in a pretty solid manner, away form has been one of the highlights for Norwich.
What’s your score prediction for Saturday’s game?
Both teams are in reasonably good form and I reckon Norwich will be looking to put things right after the Sheffield United game. I’ll go for a 2-2 draw.
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