Who would you like to start up front for City against Southampton?
PUBLISHED: 17:16 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 10 March 2020
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Is it time for Josip Drmic to get his first Premier League start? And should that be alongside or in place of Teemu Pukki? Let us know who you would like to see starting for Norwich City against Southampton in our poll ahead of Saturday’s game.
Pukki already has legendary status among Canaries fans for his fantastic first season for the club, during which he scored 36 goals in 56 games for club and country.
The 29-year-old star has 11 Premier League goals to his name after continuing that form after promotion - and does have a very respectable 18 in 35 to his name so far this season for club and country, playing a major role in Finland sealing Euro 2020 qualification.
However, Pukki hasn't scored a goal in open play in his last 12 matches, scoring penalties in a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth and a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in January.
That slowdown has followed a fractured toe suffered during a 1-1 draw at Leicester in December, suffered during a game in which he had already converted a trademark one-on-one finish after being played clean through by Emi Buendia.
At the time head coach Daniel Farke only had youngster Adam Idah as cover for his star striker so persisted with the Finn, who was cruelly denied by a controversially marginal VAR decision on December 28 - finishing a superb Mario Vrancic pass which would have put City 2-0 up at home against Tottenham, in a game which eventually finished 2-2.
However, summer signing Josip Drmic returned from two months out with a hamstring injury in January and has been looking sharp in recent weeks, after initially being eased back into action by Farke.
After shaking off some rust with a first start of the season during the 2-1 win at Burnley in the FA Cup fourth round, including turning in an easy goal after Lukas Rupp had seen a shot saved, the Switzerland international has started to push his claims.
After plenty of effort during late substitute appearances during a 3-0 league loss at Wolves and a 1-0 home win over Leicester, Drmic played the full 120 minutes and bundled in the crucial equaliser during last Wednesday's penalty shoot-out success at Tottenham in the FA Cup fifth round.
Then with City struggling and fortunate to only be 1-0 down at half-time at Sheffield United on Saturday, Drmic was introduced as the Canaries moved to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation, which helped bring them back into the game - with Drmic going close with a header and being one of the three players denied by a heroic triple save from Dean Henderson.
Idah became the club's youngest hat-trick scorer during the 4-2 win at Preston in the FA Cup third round and played a difficult opening 65 minutes of a 4-0 thrashing at Manchester United subsequently, when Pukki had a hamstring issue and Drmic wasn't yet ready to return.
He returned by playing the final 48 minutes at Spurs last week, looking bright on the left wing and scoring a superb penalty during the shootout. However, the 19-year-old was only introduced in the 87th minute at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
While City fans will be desperate to see Pukki reclaim his confidence in front of goal, Saturday's crucial clash with Southampton at Carrow Road is one of the first times this season when the Finn's place has been under genuine threat.
In his last three games Pukki has had seven shots (in 271 minutes), whereas Drmic has had nine (in 174 minutes), despite only playing the second half at Sheffield United and briefly against Leicester.
He has also won six aerial duels as opposed to Pukki's three in those last three appearances, according to WhoScored.com. While those stats are not definitive, it hints at the intent shown by Drmic recently.
With the former Borussia Monchengladbach striker having a Euro 2020 place to target with Switzerland, he looks hungry and ready for an opportunity, so is he ready for his first league start for City, to take some pressure off Pukki's shoulders? Or should both start in a change of formation?
The Canaries head into the game against the Saints knowing that anything less than a victory is likely to mean their survival hopes are effectively at an end, currently sitting six points from safety with nine games remaining and with the division's worst goal difference.
- Who would you like to see start up front? Let us know in the poll above.