The issues facing Norwich City chief Farke ahead of Liverpool opener
- Credit: Archant
City head coach Daniel Farke’s ideas will crystallise further this week to the extent we’re likely to gain an idea of who will be starting against Liverpool in the Premier League opener.
Here’s five things he could be contemplating with matches against Coventry on Wednesday night and Sheffield United on Saturday on the horizon.
All the right things will be said by both Tim Krul and Angus Gunn following the latter’s arrival from Southampton. Respect between the pair is a given and Gunn knows he is being brought in as a number two effectively, but Norwich wouldn’t have bought him if he was happy for that situation to remain indefinitely.
With that in mind Krul will be keen to lay down a marker, and he got off to a decent start with a clean sheet in the win over Huddersfield Town on Friday. The Dutchman will have been disappointed by his lack of action during his country’s Euro 2020 campaign and will want to show he is not only City’s number one, but the Netherlands’ as well.
City managed to extract even more from Krul thanks to Ralph Fahrmann’s arrival on a season-long loan from Schalke the last time they were in the top-flight. They will be hoping Krul responds to Gunn’s arrival in the same way, and another clean sheet against Coventry on Wednesday evening in Gunn’s absence as he is self-isolating, would set the tone nicely.
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A defensive axis of Andrew Omobamidele and Christoph Zimmermann has been used in the last two friendlies against Lincoln and Huddersfield. With all due respect to the pair, this won’t be the defensive pairing for their Premier League opener against Liverpool next month, injuries notwithstanding. Daniel Farke will be keen to get some minutes into both Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson as a pair with both coming back from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.
Both Hanley and Gibson have been credited by many for the feeling of extra confidence that City can make a better fist of the Premier League this time due to the defensive stability they provide. Farke will want to ensure that relationship has a chance to reconnect before the opener.
The arrival of Pierre Lees-Melou has been a welcome addition to an area of the pitch that City would still like to supplement. The Frenchman is playing his way in to that first XI for the visit of the Reds and you would expect Billy Gilmour to form part of that engine room. Much depends on whether Farke employs the 4-2-3-1 he had so much success with in the Championship, which would mean that Todd Cantwell or Kieran Dowell form part of that central mix, behind Teemu Pukki. However, Farke could decide to really firm up that central area in a 4-3-3 with Kenny McLean in the longer term once he returns from injury or Lukas Rupp in the meantime. Much would then depend on City’s front three in a creative sense in the same way Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp have developed.
No Rash first impressions...
The big money signing. The man City fans expect so much from. The man City need so much from next season. Milot Rashica is not the man to replace Emi Buendia... but he kind of is. After losing a player they funnelled so much of their creative work through, Rashica must provide an offensive threat in a different, more direct way. He’s looked bright in patches so far but didn’t make too much of an impact against Huddersfield from the left on Friday. A goal wouldn’t go amiss against the Sky Blues and then we can really see what he is about.
Idah for a goal...
The Irishman has certainly shown his eye for goal in Norwich’s three friendlies so far – scoring two in three games. His quality in front of goal is not in doubt but he needs to maintain that form and perhaps show the powers that be that whoever is brought in as another forward option before August 31 is going to have to get through the Cork youngster. Teemu Pukki is clearly the main man but Idah will want to push his claims as the Finn’s deputy whilst also adding a string to his bow by operating in a wide area. Farke could wish to have a look at this option in the next couple of games with the German having very high hopes the 20-year-old can explode in the Premier League.