A relegation and an instant Premier League return is not something new for Norwich City. No mass exodus was scripted last year at Carrow Road and the tutelage of Daniel Farke has now brought them back in the top tier of English football. Meanwhile, they will have a deja vu moment on Saturday evening while hosting Liverpool in the opening gameweek of the 2021-22 season.
They faced the same opponent a couple of years ago upon their top-flight return. However, the Canaries have the home advantage this time around and the noise of the returning crowd should uplift the spirit even though they would be without an array of first-team stars due to injuries and COVID-19 complications.
Norwich sanctioned Emiliano Buendía’s transfer to Aston Villa but were swift to bolster the core with some smart inclusions. Milot Rashica, Angus Gunn, Dimitris Giannoulis, Christos Tzolis, Josh Sargent, Pierre Lees-Melou, Ben Gibson and Billy Gilmour (on loan from Chelsea) are capable of making a difference in their survival battle, whereas the likes of Tim Krul, Grant Hanley, Max Aarons, Lukas Rupp, Christoph Zimmermann, Kenny McLean, Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell are already there with past Premier League experience.
Farke is known for an exciting brand of football and unlike many newly-promoted sides, they do not sit back and grind out results. Despite limitations, their free-flowing and passing game earned accolades in recent years. They stunned Manchester City back in 2019 and held Arsenal and Spurs in spite of finishing rock bottom in the Premier League standings.
Norwich City Must Retain Cantwell To Alter Their Top-flight Fate
Having said that, Norwich are sweating over the future of Cantwell amid interest from Villa. The Canaries have secured the services of Tzolis from PAOK for a fee of around £10m and the wide attacker is being viewed as an able alternative due to similarities of their style of play while featuring from the left-hand flank. Cantwell’s exit would bring them back to square one and the gaffer must do everything in his capacity to keep hold of the Englishman.
Tzolis, 19, has already earned 8 senior caps for Greece and is rated highly for his pace, flair and flexibility across the frontline. He prefers to operate from the left as an inverted winger and a staggering 16 goals and 10 assists last season (in 46 outings across competitions) depict his expertise in the attacking third (stats via Transfermarket). The teenager has a bright career road ahead of him, but a starting role straightaway might come too soon given the level of competition in the Premier League.
Cantwell has performed persistently over the past couple of campaigns. He not only flourished in his maiden top-flight campaign but also maintained his majestic form in the Championship en route to claiming an immediate promotion. Farke has formed a decent squad, but the season objectives might not be met if the German fails to prevent the egress before the window is slammed shut.