Daniel Farke

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Daniel Farke basks in Norwich City’s win over Leicester City

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Daniel Farke may be in charge of the Premier League’s basement dweller, but you couldn’t tell by his demeanor following Norwich City’s 1-0 win over Leicester City on Friday.

The German manager did a long lap around Carrow Road after the final whistle, taking time to applaud fans all around the ground. After eventually making his way to the media room, he was in awe of where the world has taken him.

“To be here against Leicester playing in the best league in the world against one of the best teams in this league with a well-deserved win and a clean sheet, it’s quite good,” Farke said in the post-match press conference. “I have many compliments for my team.”

Jamal Lewis scored the game’s only goal in the 71st minute, giving Norwich City a massive boost in the relegation battle. They now sit just three points back of the other two teams in the relegation zone and four adrift of safety.

“We know that we are in a good shape. All the last five games before Wolverhampton, we were on a top-class level,” Farke said. “Even against Wolverhampton, we were good in periods but not physical enough in the duels and not switched on enough in the soft skills. We spoke about this a lot in the recent days and the lads delivered a perfect performance in these terms today.”

Norwich was dangerous throughout the match, attacking in bunches against a toothless Leicester City side clearly missing an injured Jamie Vardy. The numbers aren’t exactly kind, with the Canaries racking up just 0.6 xG on 11 total shots, but they held long spells of dangerous possession and made Kasper Schmeichel by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Farke pointed to the hard work up and down the pitch from his players in the trenches. His players completed 14 of 21 one-on-one take-ons, and even more impressively they completed 23 of 30 tackles.

“The most important stat was to win the duel rate today and we won this,” Farke said. “This was the key topic in order to get this three points. We had several chances, especially in the second-half and even before the first goal. We showed a committed approach and were tactically disciplined and concentrated.”

Watch Live: Norwich v. Leicester

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Norwich City host Leicester City on Friday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Canaries and Foxes in very different positions heading into this clash at Carrow Road.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Daniel Farke’s Norwich are scrapping for their lives and although they’ve played some wonderful attacking soccer this season with Teemu Pukki, Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell all starring, they sit bottom of the Premier League table with 11 games to go. The Canaries badly need a win against Leicester if they’re going to avoid relegation back to the Championship at the first attempt. They currently sit seven points from safety.

As for Leicester, their poor form in 2020 has continued but they remain in third place in the Premier League and Brendan Rodgers‘ side are nine points ahead of fifth place. Jamie Vardy‘s goals have dried up as he hasn’t scored in his last nine appearances and only once in his last 12, which has meant a big downturn in results.

Norwich v Leicester should be a real treat on a windy Friday evening in Norfolk as both teams have plenty to play for and both managers urge their teams to play fluid, attacking soccer.

In team news Norwich bring in Buendia for Rupp as the Argentine playmaker is key in their battle against relegation.

Leicester are without Jamie Vardy who isn’t in the squad due to injury as Kelechi Iheanacho replaces him.


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Predicting Premier League’s relegation battle

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The Premier League relegation battle is incredibly tough to predict right now and it is likely that will be the case until the final weekend of the season.

This is bonkers.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With only Norwich City seemingly cut adrift at the bottom, the other two relegation spots could go to two of six teams who have been sucked into the battle in recent months.

From slumping teams like Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton to battlers Watford and Bournemouth who have been down there for most of the season, the fine margins will really make the difference in the final months of the season.

On paper all we can do right now is look at the remaining schedules for the seven teams at the wrong end of the table and predict which three will go down.

With 11 games to go, time is running out for teams to keep themselves out of the bottom three as the Premier League relegation battle will be a huge point of focus between now and mid-May.


Toughest remaining schedule:
1) Bournemouth: Nine of their remaining 11 games come against teams in the top 12. No six-pointers left. They look doomed.
2) West Ham: Five of their next six are against teams in the top 10. Given their lack of direction and attacking intent, they could nick the odd point here and there but fixtures haven’t been kind. Hosting Aston Villa on the final day of the season will be pivotal.
3) Aston Villa: Speaking of Villa, the only game they have left against a team below them is that crunch clash against West Ham. After Dean Smith’s incredible rant against his players, they are sinking. Fast.
4) Brighton: Not an easy schedule, at all. They host Liverpool and Man City in late April but by then Liverpool will have probably won the PL and alongside Man City they will likely be focusing on the UCL. Home games against Palace and Newcastle will be key.

Easiest remaining schedule:
1) Watford: Even though they sit in 19th place right now, Nigel Pearson will be keeping things calm. They face Norwich, Newcastle and West Ham in late April and early May and that will decide their season. There should be hope at Vicarage Road.
2) Newcastle: Currently seven points above the drop zone, injuries have hit Steve Bruce‘s side hard but they should be fine. But they play against West Ham, Bournemouth and Aston Villa in a stretch in late March and early April and if that goes badly they could be sucked back into the battle. If that is the case their last two away games against Watford and Brighton will be massive.
3) Norwich City: They have four or five home games left which you could see them winning and they would need to do that just to give themselves a chance of staying up. Daniel Farke‘s side will go for it and they will attack teams home and away but unless they improve drastically in defense, they will be relegated before the final few weeks of the season arrives.


Projecting the table on the final day

14. Newcastle – 42 points
15. Watford – 40 points
16. Brighton – 40 points
17. West Ham – 38 points

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18. Aston Villa – 36 points
19. Bournemouth – 36 points
20. Norwich City – 29 points


Final verdict

Momentum means everything at this time of the season and the likes of Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich just don’t have it. With 11 games to go the clock is ticking and those three teams would be my picks to go down, even though they have plenty of goals among their attacking options. Defensively those three teams haven’t been good enough all season and I think West Ham, Brighton, Watford and Newcastle have more defensive solidity about them to stay up. Looking at the projected points tally above, this will go down to the final game of the season as six teams battling to stay out of 18th and 19th will be the main talking point on May 17.

Wolves’ red-hot Jota too much for Norwich City

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Diogo Jota scored twice and helped produce the third goal of Wolves 3-0 battering of Norwich City at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Mexican star Raul Jimenez scored the other goal for Wolves.

Wolves rise eighth with 39 points, five points off fourth and two back of fifth-place Manchester United.

Norwich City remains seven points back of 17th place with a league-worst goal differential sinking to minus-27.


Three things we learned

1. Red-hot JotaWolves’ 23-year-old attacker was coming off a hat trick versus Espanyol in Europa League play, and had two goals by the half-hour mark at the Molineux. That gives him five PL goals amongst his 14 in all competitions as Wolves threaten both the Europa League and, somehow, remain alive in the top four race.

2. Abject Norwich defending: Daniel Farke‘s men have been praised for continuing their forward-thinking, attack-minded football in the Premier League, but maybe they simply didn’t have the protectors to bunker down in front of Tim Krul. That’s a bit unfair, because it’s admirable that Farke wishes to entertain, but there’s no debating the mess that is the Canaries defense this year.

3. Jimenez is Mexico’s best: Club Leon’s coach made headlines this week when he called LAFC’s Carlos Vela the best Mexican player, and perhaps he’s No. 2, but there’s no North American in the world doing what Raul is doing in Europe. Jimenez went over 3,300 season minutes on Sunday, adding another goal to give him 22 with 10 assists. Only Rui Patricio, Conor Coady, and Joao Moutinho have played more than the El Tri star.

Man of the Match: Jota


Norwich City had two promising moments in the first seven minutes, as Max Aarons hit a terrific through ball that died with a Teemu Pukki extra touch. Then Pukki forced Rui Patricio into a save.

Kenny McLean cranked a shot to Patricio off a Puuki pass in the 11th minute.

A Norwich giveaway allowed Diogo Jota to dance into the 18, but he instead dribbled himself out of room and was tackled.

Jota made amends in the 19th minute, lashing home after a terrific team goal.

It might’ve been 2-0 had Alex Tettey not darted between Jota’s 23rd-minute pass to Raul Jimenez.

Jota got his second in the 30th off a corner kick, as Romain Saiss slashed a pass across the six that any of three Wolves would’ve put in for a two-goal lead.

Tim Krul made a great save on a Ruben Neves free kick after Jota was injured drawing the set piece atop the 18.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jota smashed the post moments before Jimenez deposited Wolves’ third goal of the game, a 3-0 lead arriving in the 50th minute.

PL Sunday preview: Wolves, Man United, Everton, Arsenal in action

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures promise to have a wide-range of action, as Wolves, Manchester United and Arsenal all take the field.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Norwich City  — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Gold and NBCSports.com

Wolverhampton Wanderers are heading into Sunday’s match against bottom dwellers Norwich City with fresh, positive inertia.

On Thursday, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men thumped Espanyol 4-0 in the knockout stages of the Europa League, giving Wolves a much-needed boost of confidence. The club, who has yet to win in Premier League play since January 18, ended a two-game streak without generating a goal against the Spanish side.

Wolves are the clear favorites heading into Molineux Stadium on Sunday. But on the other side stands a well-rested and hungry Norwich, who before going to winter break, showcased class and discipline against Liverpool in their last league showing.

Daniel Farke‘s side are eight points out of the safe zone but time is running out. The sense of urgency is at an all-season high for the Canaries, believers of their under-appreciated strengths.

“They (Wolves) are playing in Europe, they have kept three clean sheets, they have individual quality and it is a huge task,” Farke said. “But I don’t see any easy fixtures at this stage. It is about us. We always have a chance if we are good at our topics.

“People can write us off and say we have no chance to close the gap. But I don’t agree. It is possible.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Ruben Vinagre (hamstring) | Norwich — OUT: Timm Klose (knee), Sam Byram (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Watford — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

History and data say Watford, who have never won a league game at Old Trafford, stand no chance against Manchester United on Sunday.

But if one victory inspired a mostly-lethargic Hornets this season under Nigel Pearson it was the 2-0 win over United at Vicarage Road. The second-to-last side went on a six-match unbeaten streak following the said victory. It brought the club back to life, lifting them out of the bottom three.

Watford have since faltered and dropped back below the red line, but Pearson promises to stick to his philosophical guns.

“We approach every game in a very similar way and that is to try and be as positive as we can,” he said. “We’ll go out there and we’ll do what we can to win the game, we’ve not changed our approach, it’s just that results sometimes change how people perceive things.”

United will certainly look different, as Odion Ighalo is expected to make his home debut against his former club following his arrival in earlier this month.

United, who stand in the seventh spot with 38 points, have a clear window of opportunity to surpass fifth-place Tottenham with a victory. Prior to Sunday’s match, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed questions regarding consistency.

“It is team selection – you’ve got to maybe rotate in Europe like we’ve done, then maybe go back to what we were at Chelsea this week,” Gunnar Solskjaer said. “I feel that Bruno [Fernandes] and Odion [Ighalo] coming in will get more goals in the team. That’s been lacking. The games we’ve lost – West Ham, Burnley, Palace, Bournemouth – we’ve had chances but we haven’t scored goals.”

Perhaps Ighalo could finally contribute towards a win at Old Trafford with Watford jerseys on the field.

INJURIES: Manchester United — Paul Pogba (ankle), Axel Tuanzebe (thigh), Marcus Rashford (back) | Watford — OUT: Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (match fitness)

Arsenal vs. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Subplots reign supreme ahead of Everton’s visit to the Emirates.

Mesut Ozil, who missed the Gunners’ 1-0 Europa League victory, and Andres Gomes, 16 weeks after an ankle dislocation and fracture, are both expected to return to action. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta and Carlo Ancelotti will meet for the first time after being linked to each other’s position before the start of the new year.

Perhaps the most significant one, however – at least to Everton – is that it’s been 24 years since the Toffees won at Arsenal. If they can pull it off this time around, the Liverpool-based side will be one step closer to the European dream.

“We have to be focused on Arsenal,” Ancelotti said. “Then there are very important games after. There’s [Manchester] United, Chelsea, Liverpool. After these four games, we can see what is going on for Europe.”

“This is a really important game against a strong team, away, but we have to have confidence to do our best and try to win. We’ve got 13 games to go and have got ourselves in a decent position,” he said. “It gives us the platform to have a decent season. I think we’ve done okay. We’ve had huge problems over six weeks and fair play to the squad for showing that resilience.”

Everton have picked up 17 points out the 24 possible under the Italian, while Arsenal have only experienced two wins under the Spaniard.

INJURIES: Arsenal — Cedric Soares (knee), Kieren Tierney (shoulder), Callum Chambers (knee), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (knee) | Everton — OUT: Jean-Phillipe Gbamin (thigh)