Stat attack: Klose deal keeps City’s strong defensive unit in good shape
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After news of Timm Klose’s new contract at Norwich City, David Freezer takes a closer look at the performances of the Canaries’ defenders ahead of the club’s return to the pressures of the Premier League.
With Timm Klose staying in the yellow and green boat he loves so much, Norwich City's defensive unit looks close to being settled ahead of Premier League battle.
The Switzerland international and Grant Hanley both had to play second fiddle to the in-form duo of Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey during the second half of the Canaries' title-winning Championship season.
Both remain popular figures with City fans, though, with Klose one of City's longest-serving current players and having played a major part in the first half of the season, and Hanley the club captain and Player of the Season runner-up at the end of 2017-18.
With Zimmermann's remarkable rise to prominence since following Daniel Farke to Norfolk from Borussia Dortmund, the big German looks sure to get his chance to impress in the top flight, having worn the captain's armband for the second half of this season.
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While Godfrey's emergence as a centre-back since Klose picked up an initial injury problem has led to reported interest from big clubs including Manchester United and Liverpool.
With Klose signing a new contract it leaves the centre of defence in decent shape - as long as a big-money bid doesn't come in for Godfrey - with all four players seemingly getting on well, buying into Farke's style of play and clearly desperate to play their part at City.
Of course, four into two doesn't go, so patience will again be required if the 4-2-3-1 formation favoured by the Canaries' head coach continues as plan A.
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The German has also toyed with a 3-5-2 formation at times, which tends to suit Klose's cultured left foot in particular, as the left prong of that defensive trident.
It was the central partnership of Klose and Zimmermann which statistically proved the strongest last season though, conceding 15 goals in 16 games, 11 of which were wins, and keeping six clean sheets in the process.
It didn't go quite as well for Klose alongside Hanley at the start of the campaign, conceding 11 in five-and-a-half games before Klose went off injured at Ipswich in early September.
Godfrey came on that day and his only league game alongside Hanley saw one goal conceded in that 45 minutes, with Mo Leitner's strike salvaging a crucial 1-1 draw at Portman Road.
The youngster's only game next to Klose in the centre of defence came at short notice, with Zimmermann dropping out of the warm-up as he was feeling the aftereffects of illness during the warm-up ahead of the home Boxing Day clash with Nottingham Forest - with City falling 3-0 behind, only to mount an epic comeback to draw 3-3.
It was soon over to Godfrey and Zimmermann though, who conceded 27 during 23 matches, 15 of which were wins, keeping six clean sheets and playing major roles in the successful pursuit of the title, leaving their more experienced team-mates on the bench.
It was Hanley who had the most frustrating season, with a thigh injury disrupting the Scot's pre-season and then ruling him out between September and December after treatment.
The 27-year-old does have experience of the Premier League though, making his Blackburn debut at 18 and scoring twice in 31 games before Rovers were relegated in 2012.
Klose similarly has top-level experience, playing 10 matches in the Premier League before a knee injury ruled him out of the final stages of City's relegation battle in 2016 but also previously racking up 75 games in the Bundesliga with Nuremberg and Wolfsburg.
Collectively they will be hoping to tighten up, having conceded 57 goals in 46 games, however the attacking style which inspired promotion inevitably left gaps in defence, particularly with speedy full-backs Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons encouraged to push on.
With Lewis and Aarons highly likely to remain first choice for Farke - again, ahead of potential big-money bids - the only real addition needed is cover at right-back, with Philip Heise arriving in January as competition on the left.
Farke has shown he will keep faith with in-form players but as Hanley and Klose found this season, you need strength in depth to be successful.