With the focus finally back on matters on the field, the Opposition Opinion returns for another season – and we’ve been chatting to a Norwich fan ahead of today’s big game at Carrow Road.
Here we are looking to bring you a view from ‘the other side’ before each game, chatting to an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on our upcoming match.
Here’s our Q&A with Norwich fan Andrew Dockerill (@dockerz77) in the build up to today’s game in East Anglia:
Q1 – Firstly, what short of shape do you feel Norwich are in coming into this one? How are you feeling ahead of your opening home game of the season?
“It’s always nice to get to your first home game of the year and being back in the Premier League, the atmosphere should be even more electric!
“There’s always nerves but there’s a lot of confidence and belief in this squad to stay up and games like this we will be eager to show up and take points.“
Q2 – What did you make of last week’s 4-1 defeat at Liverpool? It’s fair to say you looked good at one end and poor at the other..
“Starting the season away at Anfield against the European champions was always going to be a tough ask but, despite the 4-1 scoreline, Norwich didn’t embarrass themselves.
“It’s a very young back 4 with 3 under 22 years old and mistakes will come this year, as they did early in this game, but certainly second half they appeared to grow into the game.
“Teemu Pukki, the Championship’s top scorer last year, getting off the mark will be a great confidence boost and it was also great to see a young local lad Todd Cantwell start and play well.“
Q3 – Which players do you see as the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any star players we must watch out for or weak links we could exploit?
“Strengths: The midfield options – great mix and variety of pacey wingers, prolific passers and just added a high quality defensive midfielder on loan from Sevilla in Ibrahim Amadou.
“Star man is Emi Buendia. This Argentinian is a magician with the ball at his feet and has the ability to play the wonder ball through at any moment. Picked up cheaply from Getafe after their financial troubles, he adapted quickly to the championship and started to take his diet and training more seriously. At only 22 years of age, some believe international caps are a possibility if he continues his current progression path!
“Hernandez and Roberts are also tricky wingers to watch, with Leitner and Trybull being our main passers in central midfield.
“As for the back 4, I think Klose may start over Hanley if fit. Young defenders Godfrey, Lewis and Aarons all have their share of good play but can make errors.’
“Weaknesses: Premier League inexperience at the back and our reliance on Pukki upfront.”
Q4 – Which players do you see as the strengths and weaknesses in this Newcastle side?
“Strengths: It appears you guys have a strong defensive core to your side in Schar/Lascelles and Shelvey/Longstaff ahead.
“Weaknesses: Is it too obvious if I say the off the pitch drama? I can’t imagine any changing room having full focus with what’s gone on.
“Other than that perhaps the lack of proven attacking options and whether you can use them to take control in a game? That said, I love what Almiron brings as a creator.”
Q5 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Give us a prediction..
“I think both sides will be hoping to get their first win here, especially with matches vs Chelsea (Norwich) and Spurs (Newcastle) following it. Any team that starts 0 from 3 will be getting twitchy in this league!
“Norwich tend to play well at home, (we are unbeaten in league games at Carrow Road in 2019 so far) and if we are to stay up we will need to keep some of that form in the Prem.
“Prediction? Goals tend to fly in in this match-up (24 goals in the last 4 H2H games!) so I’m going for a 2-2 draw…but this could go either way.“
Q6 – It’s fair to say both of our clubs are facing a real fight to stay up this season! How do you rate our chances of survival & which three sides do you see going down & why?
“That’s certainly true! I think both teams could be in the race right through to May.
“Before the deadline I predicted: Sheffield United, Aston Villa and Brighton to go down.
“Sheffield I still think will struggle despite their unique style of play and defensive prowess under Chris Wilder. I just can’t see enough goals and whether those CB overloads will be manipulated by the pacey forwards abundant in the prem.
“Villa looked good in week one, especially new signing Trezeguet and Grealish pulling the strings… but they still give me the feeling that the wheels, doors, roof and all will come off this season. There’s a lot of new players, unproven strikers and I’m not sure if Dean Smith will keep it all together.
“As for Brighton I think Maupay is a great late signing – goals keep you up in this league and he will bag them some so I’m already second guessing that one.
“Perhaps it will be Norwich and Newcastle battling for 17th…“
Q7 – If you could make one realistic signing from NUFC, who would you like to see Farke go for?
“Realistic is the issue here… The players I really value i.e. Longstaff, Almiron would be well beyond our purse strings!
“Using the ‘moneyball’ style transfer strategy under Stuart Webber, perhaps Dwight Gayle could be potential if he falls out of favour behind the new big money strikers and tries to free himself for first team football…“
Q8 – Norwich duo Tim Krul and Grant Hanley are players we know pretty well from their spells on Tyneside. What are your thoughts on both?
“Krul had a great impact in setting an example for the young backline. He also adds needed Premier league experience for this side.. However he has a tendency to make mistakes and I could see him losing his place to Ralf Fahrmann, on loan from Schalke.
“Grant Hanley is a club captain, despite only starting 9 games in the championship last season. He again provides a great changing room influence but I see him losing his starting spot to Zimmermann (Knee) or Klose (Hip) on their returns from injury. “
Q9 – Finally, if you had our two squads to choose from and were asked to pick the best possible side, what would you starting 11 be?
“(4-3-2-1) – Dubravka (GK) – Aarons (RB), Schar (CB), Lascelles (CB), Lewis (LB) – Longstaff (CDM)- Leitner (CM), Shelvey (CM) – Buendia (RW) – Pukki (ST) – Almiron (LW)
“I’d also have goal scoring options like Saint-Maxim, Patrick Roberts and Joelinton on the bench.
“This combined side could certainly stay up!“
A big thanks to Andrew for answering our questions ahead of this weekend’s game.
Next time we’ll be speaking to a Spurs fan in the build up to next week’s trip to North London.