2013/14 Season Preview: Can Norwich’s new frontline get the Canaries flying?

Last season’s position: 11th (W10 D14 L14 F41 A58)

Key man: Sebastien Bassong

Predicted position: 14th

Norwich enter their third consecutive season in the Premier League with a mixture of expectation and trepidation, for while like for the majority of clubs in the bottom half of the table, their main target is survival, Chris Hughton is keen to bring the club forward.

To do so, the former Newcastle manager, spent a combined fee on £13.5m on two strikers, with Gary Hooper arriving from Celtic for £5m while Ricky van Wolfswinkel was purchased from Sporting Lisbon for £8.5m.

The pair’s arrival spelt the end for fans’ favourite Grant Holt at Carrow Road, who has since joined Wigan, and it is also likely to signal a tactical evolution, with Hughton poised to play Hooper and van Wolfswinkel up-front together, rather than opting for last season’s more conservative 4-4-1-1.

One of Norwich’s main problems last season was a lack of cutting edge in the final third, scoring only 41 goals – Wigan and Reading scored more despite being relegated – but the addition of Hooper and van Wolfswinkel should go some in solving the problem, considering that the former has scored 132 times over the last five seasons, while the latter has averaged a goal every other game in the last two seasons.

Holt wasn’t the only forward to leave the club this summer as Kei Kamara, Simeon Jackson, Harry Kane have all departed, the first to Kansas City, Jackson to the Bundesliga on a free-transfer, while Kane has returned to parent club Spurs.

Robert Snodgrass will again be an instrumental figure in midfield as will Anthony Pilkington, with both men tasked with providing width and supply Hooper and van Wolfswinkel.

Hughton has bolstered his options in midfield with the arrivals of Leroy Fer from Twente and highly-promising Nathan Redmond from Birmingham City for £2m. The former, who has represented Netherlands at different levels, can either play off the main striker, should Hughton decide to continue with the 4-4-1-1 formation he used last season or as a traditional central midfield.

Meanwhile, Redmond, who made his Birmingham debut aged 16 under Chris Hughton, is a winger with bags of pace and could turn out to be an excellent buy for the Canaries, particularly if Hughton were to opt for a traditional 4-4-2.

Left-back Javier Garrido made his move permanent after a season-long loan from Lazio, while Martin Olsson joined from Blackburn Rovers and goalkeeper Carlo Nash signed from Stoke City and will be a back-up for the fit-again John Ruddy.

Russell Martin penned a new three-year deal and will again be first choice as right-back, while Michael Turner and club’s Player of the Year Sebastien Bassong will be expected to marshal the backline.

Norwich’s backline was a tale two worlds last season. Excellent at home – only seven teams conceded less than Norwich on their own turf – it turned into a very leaky unit away from Carrow Road, where Norwich shipped in 38 goals, with only Aston Villa and Reading boasting a worse record.

Not surprisingly, the Canaries’ away record was better only than QPR and Reading, a statistic Chris Hughton will be desperate to improve, while their performances at Carrow Road yielded 31 of their 44 points last season.

Survival might be Hughton’s main target but, should his summer signings prove successful, there’s no reason as to why the Canaries couldn’t aim higher.

Will Norwich’s main aim be survival once again or can they push higher? Has Chris Hughton bought well this summer? Let us know below or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter


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