The numbers behind City's tough return to Premier League life

Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City and Todd Cantwell of Norwich in action during the Premier League mat

Just four Premier League players have been fouled more than Todd Cantwell so far this season - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

With the first month of Premier League action out of the way and the transfer window closed, Norwich City supporters are eager to see how the next chapter unfolds.

The opening three matches proved to be as difficult as feared, with a competitive first half giving way to a 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool, followed by a 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City. 

Giving out a rejuvenating thumping of their own breathed new life into City as an understrength Bournemouth were beaten 6-0 in the League Cup and that gave way to a much-improved display but a frustrating 2-1 loss to Leicester. 

Five games await ahead of the October international fortnight, with a trip to Arsenal followed by a crunch Carrow Road clash with Watford and the next round of the cup, when Jurgen Klopp is expected to make plenty of changes as Liverpool visit. 

Tough trips to Everton and Burnley complete the set and with Mathias Normann and Ozan Kabak now added to Daniel Farke’s squad, Canaries fans know how important it is to get some points on the board before players next go away on national duty. 

Ahead of those games, here is a closer look at what the Premier League statistics can tell us about City’s efforts so far. 

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal from the penalty spot during the Premie

Teemu Pukki celebrates after scoring against Leicester - City's only Premier League goal so far - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Shots – 29 (joint 16th) 

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Wolves and Arsenal are the only other teams with no points from the first three games and, unlike City thanks to Teemu Pukki’s penalty against Leicester, they are also the only teams yet to score. 

Arsenal have attempted as many shots as Norwich (29) but Wolves have attempted almost double that, ranking third with 57. 

Aston Villa (28), Leicester (23) and Crystal Palace (20) have had fewer shots and while Villa and the Foxes have both made decent starts, Palace have managed to earn a couple of draws despite their lack of shots. 

That’s despite City manging just one during the 5-0 slump at Manchester City, registering 14 in both of the home defeats to Liverpool and Leicester. 

Shots on target – 7 (joint 18th) 

Again, the Canaries are tied with Arsenal when it comes to attempts on target, with seven. 

Palace have managed their two goals, in their 2-2 draw at West Ham on Saturday, from a total of just five on target. 

Four of City attempts on target came against Leicester on Saturday. 

Touches – 1,808 (11th) 

Almost 400 more than the lowest ranking team, which is Burnley (1,413). 

City have averaged 602 touches per game, whereas the Clarets have averaged 471 – with Sean Dyche’s team picking up their first point when they earned a 1-1 home draw with Leeds on Sunday. 

Brentford, Everton and leaders Tottenham are all in the top half of the table but have had fewer touches than Norwich, emphasising that possession in the Premier League requires quality to be capitalised on. 

When the Canaries endured their miserable relegation campaign of 2019-20, they averaged the ninth best possession average in the division of 49.8pc. 

So far this season, City rank 16th for possession of 42.7pc, considerably lower than the Championship high of 58.2pc averaged during last season’s title triumph. 

Fouls – 19 (20th) 

Exactly half the amount that Watford have conceded during their early adventures, winning 3-2 at home to Villa and losing 2-0 at Brighton and 1-0 at Tottenham. 

City are the only team to have conceded fewer than 20 fouls and while no one wants, or expects, City to become a nasty team it hints that they could have made life more difficult for their opponents. 

As in all areas, a delicate balance needs to be struck, but that ranking does suggest they can afford to step up the physicality and the need to be a bit more streetwise. 

Brandon Williams of Norwich is fouled by Timoty Castagne of Leicester City during the Premier League

Brandon Williams reacts after being fouled by Timoty Castagne of Leicester City - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Fouled – 26 (2nd) 

On the other hand, only Aston Villa have been fouled on more occasions than the Canaries, with just four players fouled more than Todd Cantwell. 

Watford winger Ismaila Sarr leads the way on that front (12), ahead of Crystal Palace talisman Wilf Zaha (11), Southampton striker Che Adams (10) and the £100million man, Jack Grealish (nine). 

Considering the calibre of teams faced, that early total does come as something of a surprise. 

One of those was Pierre Lees-Melou being brought down for Saturday’s penalty but that high total does also suggest work is required to take advantage of free-kick opportunities.  

Grant Hanley of Norwich in action during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich
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Norwich City skipper Grant Hanley makes a clearance against Liverpool - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Clearances – 78 (2nd) 

Perhaps an indicator of how tough the opening three games have been, that only Watford have made more clearances (86) than Norwich so far. 

City also rank ninth for tackles made, averaging 18 per game, and eighth for shots blocked (13). 

An average of over three goals conceded per game clearly has to be reduced swiftly and a first goal from open play would be extremely welcome, after scoring just 26 goals in total during 2019-20. 

As many have repeated though, there is no need to panic, particularly in light of playing three of last season’s top five to start with. 

Last season, Burnley only drew two of their opening seven and went on to finish 17th but 11 points clear of the bottom three, on 39 points. 

While in 2017-18, Palace lost their opening seven before Frank de Boer was dismissed and replaced by Roy Hodgson, finishing 11th on 44 points. 

NCFC EXTRA: Strong Arsenal side beat Brentford 4-0 in friendly ahead of Norwich City clash

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