Anthony Pilkington

Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Norwich City

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For newly promoted Premier League clubs, the name of the game is, simply, survival. For Norwich City, the 2015-16 Premier League season will be just that.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

Back in Premier League after a year in the Championship, the Canaries from Carrow Road showed last season they belong in England’s top flight. A scintillating finish to the regular season and rampant run through the playoffs proved just that, earning the East Anglian club their deserved place back among England’s elite.

The last time the Canaries were in the Premier League, the managerial duo of Chris Houghton and Neil Adams led the club to an 18th place finish.

Best possible XI:

— Ruddy —

— Whittaker — Martin — Bassong — Olsson —

— Redmond — Howson — Mulumbu — Johnson —

— Hoolahan —

— Jerome —

Transfers In: Robbie Brady ($11 million, Hull City), Graham Dorrans ($4.5 million, West Bromwich Albion), Youssouf Mulumbu (Free, West Bromwich Albion), Andre Wisdom (Loan, Liverpool)

Transfers Out: Luciano Becchio (Free), Javier Garrido (Free), Carlos Cuellar (Free), Mark Bunn (Free), Sam Kelly (Free)

Last season: Finished third in the Championship regular season, earned promotion to the Premier League through the promotion playoffs — After starting the 2014-15 season strong (top of the league on October 4), the Canaries faltered over their next 15 games and looked destined to miss out on the playoffs altogether, then they changed managers in January and went on to win 13 of their final 18 games, just missing out on automatic promotion by three points. Cameron Jerome, who was signed for just over $2 million before the start of the season, bagged 20 league goals to led the way, while Bradley Johnson (15), Gary Hooper (12) and Lewis Grabban (12) all reached double digits, as well.

source: Getty Images
Nathan Redmond, Norwich City FC

Star player: Nathan Redmond — The 21-year-old contributed six goals and 13 assists in league play last season, which are numbers he’ll have to somehow replicate in the Premier League this season to continue to English national team-bound career trajectory. While the likes of Johnson, Howson, Jerome, Hooper and Wes Hoolahan (more than 250 appearances for the club) are all undoubtedly important to the Canaries’ hopes of staying up this season, Redmond is the one transcendent type of game-changing player within the squad.

Coach’s corner: Alex Neil took took over at Carrow Road on Jan. 9, days after Neil Adams was fired. Neil, who is just 34, led the Canaries to wins in 15 of their final 22 league games. Following the conclusion of his playing career at age 31, Neil managed his final playing club, Hamilton Academical, for two seasons and won the club promotion to Scotland’s top flight in his first full season in charge.

source: Getty ImagesPST predicts: Considering the Canaries went down for just a season, the current roster is still largely a Premier League-quality squad from two seasons ago — only Leroy Fer, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington were players of consequence to leave after the 2013-14 season. Neil still needs to do a bit more business to further strengthen the squad before the Sept. 1 transfer deadline, but it’s been a summer of smart signings thus far. The one thing lacking from the Norwich squad as it currently stands: a proven Premier League goalscorer — Jerome and Hooper have scored just 36 PL goals combined.

Ireland 4-1 USMNT: A defensive nightmare from Klinsmann’s men

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A sloppy, mostly-inexperienced and out of sorts United States men’s national team made several momentous mistakes and only produced one goal in a 4-1 loss to Ireland on Tuesday in Dublin.

Hull City’s Robbie Brady scored a second-half brace against a United States defense that produced its worst showing in ages.

Anthony Pilkington and James McClean also scored for the Irish, while Mix Diskerud scored the Yanks only goal.

The USMNT out-possessed, out-attempted and out-cornered Ireland, but it mattered little considering how panicked they looked when Ireland got the ball.

[ USMNT: First half goal highlights | How worried should we be? ]

Brady put Ireland ahead in the 55th minute, when Fabian Johnson gave the ball away and David McGoldrick played set-up man for the second time to make it 2-1.

And James McClean of Wigan Athletic’s 82nd minute shot deflected off Geoff Cameron and past Bill Hamid to make it 3-1 late.

source: Getty ImagesThe breakthroughs came after the States played a sloppy first half that was saved by a Mix Diskerud goal (Video of both goals and a recap here).

Diskerud pressured Ireland into a giveaway before combining with Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski to produce the equalizer after McGoldrick played Anthony Pilkington for the opening goal.

The first half was easier than Friday at Craven Cottage.

Plenty of Yanks fought the ball in the second half, but there were some bright spots when pushing forward, as Ale Bedoya and Fabian Johnson were a good combination.

[ USMNT: Defense is porous | Player ratings ]

Many USMNT players struggled, including Timmy Chandler in defense and Alfredo Morales. The young 2.Bundesliga midfielder looked out of his depth for much of the contest.

Shay Given denied Bobby Wood in the 67th minute, as the American forward looked to have Given beaten 1v1 only to have the keeper’s foot intervene to deflect the shot just wide.

source: Getty ImagesA 71st minute free kick provided a chance that Bedoya slipped to Garza, but his cross was cleared away.

Shane Long torched an otherwise-strong Greg Garza on the left before hitting the right post in the 81st minute, but moments later Ireland found its third goal through McClean.  And Brady added a goal off a freekick in the 88th minute to finish his brace.

The States are off for the rest of the year, with a January camp that normally features domestic players up next on the docket.

LINEUPS

Ireland: Given (Elliot, 85′); Christie, Pearce, Clark, Meyler; Quinn, Brady (Hendrick, 77′), Pilkington (McClean, 64′), Murphy; McGoldrick (Long, 77′), Stokes (McGeady, 60′).

Goal: Pilkington (7′), Brady 2 (55′, 86′), McClean (82′)

Unused: Randolph (GK), Keogh, Coleman, O’Shea, Walters.

United States: Hamid; F. Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Chandler (Morris, 76′); Beckerman (Ream, 88′); Bedoya, Diskerud (Rubin, 77′), Morales (Garza, 65′); Wondolowski (Wood, 46′), Altidore.

Goal: Diskerud (38′)

Unused: Johnson (GK), Ibarra, Green.

At the half: Diskerud fixes early USMNT gaffe, 1-1 vs Ireland (video)

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Cardiff City winger Anthony Pilkington took advantage of a Matt Besler mistake to give Ireland a 1-0 lead of the United States men’s national team at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday.

But Mikkel Morgenstar Pålssønn “Mix” Diskerud scored his 6th goal in a USMNT uniform and third this year to equalize, and the game is 1-1 at half.

Despite a sizable advantage in early possession for the US, it was Ireland who scored first when Pilkington took advantage of a positioning blunder from Besler.

[ RELATED: Klinsmann hails Robbie Keane ]

The Sporting KC defender went for the offside trap with partner Geoff Cameron running deep and David McGoldrick played a brilliant through ball. Make no mistake about it, though, Besler should’ve done much better.

Taylor Twellman reported that 10-15 scouts were in Dublin to watch free agent Diskerud play for the USMNT, and the midfielder was active if a bit sloppy in the first half before turning up the pressure for a 38th minute equalizer.

Diskerud pressured Ireland into a turnover that finished with a Jozy Altidore cross that Chris Wondolowski headed for the “Mixtape’s” first touch goal.

The US did a lot of attacking, with plenty of corners (seven in the half). Ale Bedoya played several short, and Fabian Johnson struck the post with a left-footed shot in the 21st minute.

Ireland moved past Geoff Cameron for another big chance in the 28th minute, only for Bill Hamid to come up with a big save.

Beckerman picked up a yellow card in the 37th minute after sliding at Pilkington, who theatrically went airborne.

Altidore cranked a shot off the goal post in the 43rd minute as the US quality started to shine.

LINEUPS

Ireland: Given; Christie, Pearce, Clark, Meyler; Quinn, Brady, Pilkington, Murphy; McGoldrick, Stokes.

Goal: Pilkington (7′)

Subs: Elliot (GK), Randolph (GK), Keogh, Coleman, O’Shea, Hendrick, McGeady, McLean, Long, Walters.

United States: Hamid; F. Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Chandler; Beckerman; Bedoya, Diskerud, Morales; Wondolowski, Altidore.

Goal: Diskerud (38′)

Subs: Johnson (GK), Ream, Garza, Rubin, Ibarra, Green, Wood, Morris.

Southampton 4-2 Norwich City: Saints arrest Canary comeback (video)

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This match almost had it all: a battle against relegation, a triple substitution, plenty of goals, and almost, almost a fairy-tale comeback from the underdogs. But in the end the hosts took all three points, leaving Norwich just four points above the drop.

Right from the start Southampton were on top, with James Ward-Prowse very nearly opening the scoring after just two minutes. His header went wide, but it mattered little, as Saints were in front by the fifth minute.

The Norwich defense were cut apart, with neither of the Canaries’ defensive midfielders picking up on the run of Gastón Ramírez. Jay Rodriguez laid off the ball for Morgan Schneiderlin, whose neatly clipped shot sailed over John Ruddy to land in the back of the net.

The hosts weren’t about to slow down, however, continuing to pile pressure on Norwich. Ramírez put in a lovely ball that Rodriguez just missed. Steven Davis was able to latch on, but his shot went just wide. Moments later, Ramírez was having a go himself, from 20 yards, but his curling shot went wide as well. It’s tough to believe he hadn’t started since the first day of 2014.

After about the half-hour mark, Norwich started to ease their way into the game. The visitors’ first chance came when Robert Snodgrass played in Gary Hooper, but the front man’s shot went wide. Anthony Pilkington put in a decent sharp drive, but it was blocked before threatening Artur Boruc’s goal.

It was Southampton that came back roaring after the restart, however. José Fonte slid a long ball through to Ramírez, but Ryan Bennett got in the way. The Norwich defender flicked on to Rickie Lambert, who’d been on for just a minute. The forward slipped past Jos Hooiveld to double his side’s lead.

It was then that Chris Hughton decided to make a change…or three. Off came Pilkington, Hooper and Bradley Johnson; on came Nathan Redmond, Johan Elmander and Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

Jay Rodriguez put in Southampton’s third goal. John Ruddy had managed to save Guly Do Prado’s original shot, but the rebound fell to Rodriguez, who had no trouble putting it away. 3-0, and it looked as though the Saints were coasting to victory.

Hughton’s triple substitution, however, proved to be quite effective. Fonte made a hash of a pass to Boruc, which Elmander was able to intercept, slotting past the goalkeeper. Then, less than two minutes later, van Wolfswinkel’s shot was deflected into the path of Snodgrass, and the Canaries were within a goal of snatching a point.

Alas, the fairy-tale comeback fell short. Instead it was Southampton that grabbed the final goal, almost with the last move of the match. Alexander Tettey’s slip allowed Sam Gallagher – again, on just minutes before – the chance to latch on to a through ball and put in the Saints fourth and final goal.

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Lambert 55), Ramírez (Guly 61), Rodriguez (Gallagher 93)

Goals: Schneiderlin 5′, Lambert 57′, Rodriguez 72, Gallagher 97′

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Yobo, R Bennett, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson (van Wolfswinkel 65), Howson; Snodgrass, Pilkington (Redmond 65), Hooper (Elmander 65)

Goals: Elmander 85′, Snodgrass 86′,

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Norwich (Lineups and Discuss)

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Norwich City will hope to take advantage of Southampton’s safety by upsetting the Saints at home on Saturday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).

Southampton mark the Premier League’s dividing line between comfort and fear. With 42 points, 17 points from the drop, the Saints are clearly safe. But, and as much as many would hate to admit it after Southampton’s fantastic start, they’re also highly unlikely to break into the top six. Southampton are currently six points from a Europa League spot, and the three sides occupying slots 6-8 all have at least one game in hand. In other words, the Saints can use their remaining nine games to experiment, to test younger players and try new formations.

The visitors will be banking on this being the (unlikely) case. Norwich are currently four points above the drop, which seems like quite a big gap this season, but the Canaries are hungry for more. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Stoke was a disappointment, particularly as the Potters played the final 12 minutes down a man. With that match following the 4-1 thrashing by Aston Villa, Norwich will be determined to make amends at St. Mary’s.

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Chris Hughton has made a host of changes after last week’s draw. Steven Wiattaker and Ryan Bennett step into defense, Johnny Howson is in midfield, and Robert Snodgrass, Anthony Pilkington and Gary Hooper start up top in a 4-3-3.

For the hosts, Gastón Ramírez gets a rather surprising start, his first since January 1. Rickie Lambert is on the bench while Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana are left to shoulder much of the attacking burden – although it rarely seems much of one for them.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Ramírez, Rodriguez

Subs: Gazzaniga, Yoshida, Lambert, Guly, Chambers, Hooiveld, Gallagher

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Yobo, R Bennett, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson, Howson; Snodgrass, Pilkington, Hooper

Subs: Bunn, Martin, Bassong, van Wolfswinkel, Hoolahan, Elmander, Redmond