Timm Klose

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Premier League Preview: Norwich City v. Man City

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  • Man City unbeaten, but 2nd in the PL
  • Norwich, behind Pukki’s production, a tough team to beat
  • First meeting since a 0-0 draw on March 3, 2016

While very little has been surprising about Manchester City’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, the same can’t be said of Norwich City’s first four games since returning to England’s top flight — particularly the goal-scoring exploits of Teemu Pukki. The two-time defending champions visit the newly promoted Canaries on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com).

Man City enter Matchweek 5 in second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool, and have conceded just three goals in four games (two came in one game, their lone draw of the season, against Tottenham Hotspur). Sergio Aguero (six) and Raheem Sterling (five) have combined to score 11 of City’s 13 goals thus far. Arguably the most lethal attacking duo in the world at the moment, Aguero and Sterling will be anxious to face the PL’s worst defensive record (10 goals conceded) on Saturday. In red-hot form, Sterling scored one and assisted on three others in England’s 5-3 victory over Kosovo on Tuesday.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Though Norwich enter Sunday’s clash at Carrow in 19th place, the route by which they arrived in the relegation zone has surprised many. Thrashed by Liverpool on the opening day, the general consensus was that Daniel Farke‘s side acquitted itself well. Then came a resounding 3-1 victory over Newcastle United, highlighted by Pukki’s hat trick. Again, Norwich were hardly dominated in a loss to Chelsea before finally being comprehensively outplayed by West Ham United just before the international break. Pukki has five goals of Norwich’s six goals and was named the PL Player of the Month for August, leaving many to wonder how much longer he can keep up the magic, and whether or not they can survive if his well of goals dries up.

Injuries/suspensions

Norwich: OUT – Tom Trybull (ankle), Christoph Zimmermann (foot), Onel Hernandez (knee), Timm Klose (knee)

Man City: OUT – Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Benjamin Mendy (fitness); QUESTIONABLE – John Stones (thigh), Ilkay Gundogan (illness)


Projected lineups

Norwich: Krul – Byram, Amadou, Godfrey, Lewis – Drmic Leitner – Buendia, Stieperman, Cantwell – Pukki

Man City: Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Zinchenko – Rodrigo, Silva, De Bruyne – Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on Sterling reaching the level of Messi and Ronaldo: “They scored 50 or 60 goals a season in the last decade, and have won the Ballon d’Or and prizes every year except this one. They are legends, something unique in world football. If Raheem can target that level, wow. Of course, he can do it and I won’t be the guy to tell him his limits. But right now, nobody — at any club — can compare with these two guys what they do every week for a decade. Nobody can compare.”

Daniel Farke, on the challenge of facing Man City: “Some lads are nervous, you can tell. It’s normal and it’s up to me to give them some trust and confidence. We should go into the game with nothing to lose. I will back my lads whatever happens tomorrow. I want them to be brave. They should have no regrets.”


Prediction

All 11 Norwich players could turn in the performance of their lives, and City could still win 3-1. The gap between “two-time defending champions” and “just arrived in the big time” is massive, and Saturday’s clash should highlight the disparity. 3-1, Man City.

West Ham too much for defender-troubled Norwich City

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Dominant West Ham United danced past defender-starved Norwich City, keeping Teemu Pukki off the board in a 2-0 win at the London Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sebastien Haller scored his third goal in two matches, and Andriy Yarmolenko also scored as West Ham out-attempted the visitors 18-8 and put eight of their shots on target.

Look out for the Irons if Manuel Pellegrini has finally instilled some consistency. Now in fifth, they have a very light schedule over the next 3 months with no back-to-back challenges until late November.

We’ve said it before and been proven silly, but this is another stretch of season which could see West Ham claim the power they so desperately crave in the Premier League.


Three things

  1. Haller gets dirty to score again — The Irons’ French striker seems the real deal, and his contested finish of Arthur Masuaku‘s cross showed why West Ham believes he can be the force to propel it into the Top Six.
  2. Norwich’s depth woes — The Canaries have been beset by injuries at the back, and lost Christoph Zimmermann early in this one. Already a perceived weakness and with PL star Timm Klose out for a while with injury, Daniel Farke‘s Canaries have to hope to outscore teams. That simply won’t happen every week.
  3. The forgotten man delivers — Yarmolenko is a wonderful talent, but the 29-year-old missed plenty of time at Borussia Dortmund in 2017-18 and for West Ham last season. Now healthy (**knocks on wood**) the Ukrainian star can be a big part of West Ham’s hopes.

Man of the Match: Felipe Anderson — Holding onto the ex-Lazio playmaker may be an even better move than signing Haller.


Norwich’s back line has been troubled by injuries, so all big stops feel a victory. Christoph Zimmermann slid to block a dangerous looking effort from Felipe Anderson early in the match.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

He couldn’t stop Haller, although to be fair few have looked capable of that this season. The Frenchman stretched to put Arthur Masuaku’s cross into the goal, another fine finish.

Zimmermann left the game after 36 minutes, and the Canaries were in a bad spot.

Yarmolenko made it a two-goal lead in the 56th minute when he volleyed a deflection into the goal.

Five most impactful signings of Premier League Transfer Deadline Day

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From panic buys to the resolution of long sagas, Wednesday’s Transfer Deadline Day was eventful and actually exciting.

Some deadline days see a flurry of loan deals and little else, but we had a bit of everything on Wednesday.

Moussa Sissoko finally found a home away from Newcastle, Mario Balotelli is off to France, and David Luiz (!!!) returned to Chelsea.

[ MORE: Every PL move from Deadline Day ]

But, in all honesty, the big names aren’t the Wednesday deals we think will really cut the muster. For those, read on.

5. Enner Valencia, loan with option to buy from West Ham to Everton — Watch out for this one, as the Hammers’ man could pair with Romelu Lukaku to be a potentially devastating problem for opposing Premier League defenses. With Ross Barkley and Idrissa Gueye in the midfield, Everton has done a ton to strengthen its run toward European qualification.

4. Marcos Alonso, permanent from Fiorentina to Chelsea — He’s solid, but more importantly represents an upgrade in depth and experience for the Blues’ back line. Alonso is the sort of back who fits Antonio Conte‘s desires, and will work well behind N'Golo Kante.

3. Dieumerci Mbokani, loan from Dynamo Kyiv to Hull — While Robbie Brady, Timm Klose, and Nathan Redmond got a lot of the headlines, Mbokani was a powerful part of the Canaries’ attack in an ill-fated campaign. At 30 he’s far from a long-term fix, but Mbokani should provide strength and skill to a Hull City side facing a very challenging campaign. Per 90 minutes, no one on Norwich touched him last year (courtesy advanced stats site Squawka):

http://www.squawka.com/football-player-rankings#performance-score#player-stats#english-premier-league|season-2015/2016#norwich#all-player-positions#16#37#10#0#90#08/08/2015#17/05/2016#season#1#all-matches#total#desc#90
Squawka.com

2. Jack Wilshere, loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth We want so badly to make this our No. 1 for many reasons, but can’t take that risk thanks to the risk presented by Wilshere’s injury history. For Jeff Mostyn, Eddie Howe, and the Cherries to win the rights to bring Wilshere to town is big for a lot of reasons. That Arsene Wenger allowed him to go is another. Frankly, this could be a game changer for two clubs’ PL fortunes.

— Honorable mention — Wilfried Bony is a nice pick-up for Stoke, but Bruno Martins Indi gives the club freedom to use Geoff Cameron in other ways. … Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is another good piece for Spurs’ attacking depth ahead of the UEFA Champions League.

  1. Islam Slimani, permanent from Lisbon to Leicester — The Algerian striker was sold on King Power Stadium by fellow Desert Warriors attacker Riyad Mahrez, and now gives the Foxes even more danger whether counterattacking or taking their talents to the opposition. With Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Ahmed Musa joining Slimani, Leicester has the depth to dance in Europe.

Five relegated players who remain free of a Premier League home

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While Newcastle United waits on the futures of Georginio Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko, with both looking as good as out the door, it’s reminded us that several useful players from last year’s Premier League sides remain on the outside looking in.

Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Norwich City were relegated to England’s second tier, and the first two especially have been keen to hold onto assets for an instant push back into the PL.

[ MORE: Simeone as part-time Argentina boss? ]

But several players, including perhaps the most unheralded transfer of 2015-16, remain with their clubs. Let’s take a look.

Idrissa Gueye – Aston Villa

The poor man’s N'Golo Kante, and it’s nearly impossible to know if perhaps he’s nearer the ex-Leicester man’s level than ever we believe given Villa’s brutal season.

Gueye has an irrepressible motor and a box-to-box mentality, and has been the subject of several rumors back home in France. But Gueye is said to want to stay in England after arriving from Lille a year ago.

How good was Gueye last year? Despite playing on a miserable team, his performance score from advanced stats site Squawka was Top 30 in the PL.

Gueye Squawka

Brad Guzan – Aston Villa

The USMNT backstop’s reputation took a big hit along with Villa, and he’s been tipped for a PL return with Middlesbrough. Guzan is on the outs at Villa as it is, and Sports Illustrated says he could be had on a free.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Robbie Brady of Norwich City celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City at The Hawthorns on March 19, 2016 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Robbie Brady – Norwich City

He’s been linked with Leicester City since N’Golo Kante skipped town, even though Brady is much more of an offensive player. The Irish star would seemingly love to move back to the PL to continue his development, and surely there are suitors.

Timm Klose – Norwich City

The stalwart defender was a massive part of the Canaries’ near survival last season, and it’s odd that we’ve read so little about him this summer. At 28, the giant Swiss center back is in the prime of his career and will be fresh after missing EURO through injury. Perhaps he fancies staying at Carrow Road given his first real regular role at a club since the 2012-13 campaign at Nurnberg.

Tim Krul – Newcastle United

The ‘keep isn’t with Newcastle during preseason in Ireland, and Krul has been mostly fantastic when healthy for the Magpies. Recent reports have linked him with West Ham or a reunion with ex-manager Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. The Magpies have a trio of other keeps in Matz Sels, Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot, and Krul seems destined for another league.

Best transfer buys of the 2015-16 Premier League season

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2015-16 Premier League season.

From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

MORE: All 2015-16 PL season reviews ]

It was a big season for new faces in the Premier League, and narrowing down a Top Ten is a very difficult proposition.

Consider the names that don’t even make our honorable mention: Timm Klose and Andros Townsend nearly saved their clubs seasons, while Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri played huge roles in Sunderland surviving.

Without further adieu, here’s a look at our most effective new faces in the Premier League.

10. Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool

The speedster proved strong at both ends of the Anfield pitch.

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 15: Andre Ayew (2nd L) of Swansea City celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium on May 15, 2016 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

9. Andre Ayew, Swansea City

Thrived as Swans survived a relegation battle to rise up near midtable.

8. Lamine Kone, Sunderland

A January buy, Kone helped fix a very leaky Stadium of Light back line.

7. Toby Alderweireld, Tottenham Hotspur

Was pretty good for Saints last year, and found a new level under Mauricio Pochettino at White Hart Lane.

6. Anthony Martial, Manchester United

Yes, he cost a lot of dough, but he’s got a good shot at being a force for a great many years. Turns out the Thierry Henry comparisons are just kinda ridiculous, not patently absurd. By next year, we could be saying even more.

5. Robert Huth, Leicester City

The Foxes also added Christian Fuchs, but Huth’s defensive pairing with Wes Morgan was a brilliant part of their run to the final.

4. Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton

We knew he was good at Celtic, but his seamless transition to a much tougher league helped Saints make a strong run.

3. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

If he was healthy the whole year, City may’ve finished second… or higher? Dominant return to the PL.

2. Dimitri Payet, West Ham United

Kante’s championship mettle is the only thing that could detract from Payet’s addition, as the star wattage of the French playmaker lit up the Boleyn Ground’s final season.

1. N'Golo Kante, Leicester City

He’s quite simply the most impactful end-to-end player in the league. So yeah, a good addition.

***

Honorable mention: Benik Afobe (Bournemouth), James Milner (Liverpool), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City), Petr Cech (Arsenal), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Pedro (Chelsea), Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa).