Norwich (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

After a very mixed performance in our opening day defeat to Arsenal, this game promises to tell us where this Steve Bruce team is really at in the early stages of the new season.

We did a decent job in the first half against Arsenal, containing them well and pressing effectively, but we totally ran out of steam in the second half, looking tired, tactically all over the shop and toothless in the final third.

Norwich will pose an attacking threat, but they’ll give you chances at the other end, meaning the likes of Almiron and Joelinton *should* get much more joy in this one.

They’ll be well up for it, with it being their first Premier League game at Carrow Road for over 3 years, so we must be switched on at the back and much more efficient in attack if we want to come away with all three points.

It’s still very early days, but with both clubs being due to play top 4 teams in two of our next three games after this one, the game should feature two sides desperate to get their first win of the season on the board.

Predicted XI

With Allan Saint-Maximin looking likely to miss out with a tight hamstring, it looks very likely that Bruce sticks with a 3-5-2 and the exact team that started at St James’ Park last Sunday.

Many had hoped he’d go with a 3-4-3 and start Almiron and Saint-Maximin either side of Joelinton – an attack that could seriously trouble a leaky-looking Norwich defence – but I’d be shocked if the Frenchman is risked. With that in mind, Almiron and Joelinton must gain more support in attack – and could do with playing closer together too, with Almiron’s tendency to drop deep and drift often leaving the Brazilian too isolated to make an impact last Sunday.

Shelvey seems to be OK after being forced off against Arsenal, so I’d expect him to play in the middle of a midfield trio, with Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden taking up slightly wider roles either side of him. While Hayden did a good job last weekend, hopefully Longstaff can have more of an impact on this game, with him looking a little lost and being surprisingly sloppy at times against the Gunners.

At the back, Ritchie and Manquillo seem likely to continue at wing-back. Jetro Willems and Emil Krafth are both fit and available, but I can’t see either starting – especially when the former played a big part in Arsenal’s winner last time out.

At centre-back I’d be surprised if there were any chances, with Schar, Lascelles and Dummett seeming like our first choice and most well balanced trio until Lejeune returns.

Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4-3) – Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles Dummett – Hayden, Longstaff – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron (although it looks like Saint-Maximin won’t be fit for this one).

The Opposition

Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Daniel Farke’s side:

Teemu Pukki: The Finnish goal machine was the top scorer in the second tier last season, bagging 29 goals and 9 assists in Norwich’s title-winning campaign. Some wondered if he’d struggle to make the step up this season, but he showed no signs of that at Liverpool last weekend, displaying razor sharp movement and a real eye for a goal as he finished emphatically to give the Canaries a consolation goal at Anfield. Schar, Lascelles and Dummett will need to have their wits about them and mark him closely.

Grant Hanley: The former Newcastle United centre-back looks set to start again given the injuries Norwich have in defence. He’ll deal with long balls up to Joelinton all day and night, but he could be in big trouble if we can get Almiron running at him.

Emi Buendia: The Argentinian attacking midfielder is the creative force behind this Norwich team, with some even tipping him for an international call-up if he can continue to impress at Premier League level. He bagged 8 goals and 12 assists form them last season and will be looking to create and cause havoc down their right-hand side. One to watch for Matt Ritchie.

Tim Krul: Another ex-Mag and another player we may get some joy against if we continue with our high press. We did this very well at times against Arsenal and it could come into play once again in this one given how Norwich like to play out from the back. Krul rarely looks comfortable with the ball at his feet, so he may struggle if we give him little room to work with.

Predicted Norwich XI – Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Hanley, Lewis – McLean, Trybull, Stiepermann, Cantwell, Buendia – Pukki.

Team news

Allan Saint-Maximin has been described as a ‘major doubt’ for his after missing training earlier this week with a tight hamstring, but it looks like Jonjo Shelvey will be OK – despite limping off 7 minutes into the second half vs Arsenal.

Elsewhere, Andy Carroll is still ‘at least 4-5 weeks away’ from being match fit according to Steve Bruce, while Dwight Gayle (calf), DeAndre Yedlin (only just returned to training after groin surgery), Christian Atsu (knee) and Florian Lejeune (still recovering from ACL surgery) will all miss out.

For the hosts, summer signing (and former NUFC target if you believe Spanish press) Ibrahim Amadou is being assessed after sitting out their opening day defeat at Anfield.

Centre-back duo Timm Klose (hip) and Christoph Zimmermann (knee) have been ruled out, meaning ex-Mag Grant Hanley looks set to start in attack.


This is a winnable game, but Norwich are no mugs – and they’ll be bang up for it given it’s their first Premier League match back at Carrow Road following promotion.

They look very fluid and a real threat going forward, but, if their defensive display in their 4-1 defeat at Anfield is anything to go by, we should be confident of grabbing a goal or two.

Almiron and Joelinton must play closer together if we’re to carry a consistent threat in the final hard, with the midfield needing to push up and wing-backs push on – something that didn’t really happen against Arsenal last weekend.

I see Norwich scoring – they commit bodies forward and go for it – but I can’t see them keeping a clean sheet either.

I’d like to think we can stand reasonably firm at the back and outscore them at the other end, but we’ll need to be much better going forward and get the balance right between defence and attack to come away with a win.

A high-scoring draw feels likely to me!

Prediction: Norwich 2-2 Newcastle

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

73 thoughts on “Norwich (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. The media narrative last weekend was that plucky Norwich gave Liverpool a good game. Krul actually had a good game and they still let in 4. Liverpool could easily have scored 7 or 8.

    IF Dubravka has a good game an we keep our defensive shape – they should still remember what Rafa taught them, it has only been 1 game – we should get a result. Hope fully a win.


  2. Then there is the passing. It can’t possibly be as bad as last week with the main offenders being our best passer usually – Shelvey, Schar and Longstaff. You can add the short ball from Dummett to Willems to that.

    They were like a bunch of 50 years olds playing on a bobbly park pitch.


  3. Then there’s the shape. Were the 3 midfielders stepping into each others space? I only watched the game once so didn’t really analyse it too much. Olly said Almiron was also dropping back to collect the ball so that made 4 midfielders and the wingbacks in a crowded area.

    If this happens again this week, I think Bruce has to seriously consider not shoehorning 3 central midfielders into the team. I thought that was going to happen BEFORE the Arsenal game and my gut said that is what DID happen.

    I am not a great football tactician but that is the feeling I had.


  4. I’m not loving that formation , i would much prefer a front 3 especially against Norwich.
    Really don’t think Shelvey, Hayden and Longstaff worked well together, one needs dropping imo.
    Either drop Sean or Jonjo, Hayden has to stay what ever happens. Is Longstaff fully fit yet, he didn’t look his usual self last week or was it having Shelvey in there as well, as Eric says, too many .

    Eric, you mention the defenders shouldn’t forget what Rafa told them and there is no doubt under him we were far better defensively . Thing is, what if Steve is asking them to do things differently, it may only be subtle changes but could effect the previously learned tactics.
    Tomorrows game should tell us a lot more about Steve’s team, Norwich are good going forward and will be a test for our defenders but if we go 3 up front i would expect us to really test that Norwich defense.
    Will be really disappointed if we don’t win, i expect us to.


  5. In fairness to Norwich a lot of their senior players are injured, so they had little option against Lpool.

    I think most are still out so we need to take advantage of that and really go at they young side.
    I thought thought their full backs looked good offensively, but rubbish defensively. Pukki is a good finisher – but I’d hope our 3 CBs could keep him quiet.

    I agree with Kim though. I would favour either Jerry the Saint or Muto over that extra midfielder. Hayden and Longstaff handled things just fine in there last season without any extra help – and 3 up top could really get into their poor defence.


  6. Stu – well there coming from somewhere coz you’ve got us scoring 1 at least.

    But we had one of the tightest defences in the league last season and you have Norwich scoring possibly 3 past us ?. Arsenal only managed 1 and that was only thanks to a huge gift from us.

    I’m not suggesting it will be a walk in the park though. Im not overlooking the fact this is Norwich’s first home game back in the PL and they will be fired up.


  7. We should have the better squad though. We just spent 40 million on a striker FFS. Did their entire team even cost that? Delia would have to sell a lot of cookbooks to afford that.


  8. Sharpy17:
    Stu – well there coming from somewhere coz you’ve got us scoring 1 at least.

    But we had one of the tightest defences in the league last season and you have Norwich scoring possibly 3 past us .Arsenal only managed 1 and that was only thanks to a huge gift from us.

    I’m not suggesting it will be a walk in the park though.Im not overlooking the fact this is Norwich’s first home game back in the PL and they will be fired up.

    We won’t have a defence as tight as last season. That is one area Rafa had us absolutely drilled in. Even he would have a struggle with this squad though as we don’t have goals.


  9. Stuart: our strikers weren’t exactly full of goals in the 2017/18 season. Only strikers to score in the PL for us:

    Gayle 6
    Perez 10
    Joselu 4

    Is St Max a striker? Will Carroll ever be fit? But we have Joelinton and Muto and I would class Almiron as a forward even though he hasn’t scored yet. When Gayle is fit again he could chip in.

    I would take those options over 2017/18 when we loaned Slimani but he didn’t score a PL goal.

    Could say it was Rafa’s genius that kept us up, but this years crop are better.


  10. I would say it was Rafa’s management that kept us up yes. We won the games we needed to which he targeted and we didnt’t lose to any around us did we? Could have been luck of course.


  11. I feel like Muto would be a better partner for Joelinton (I think Gayle will be better). Muto is more likely to be a forward getting in the box with Joelinton where I think Saint and Almiron are wider players.
    I might be wrong but I’d like to see that partnership tried.


  12. This one is so hard to predict. I have only seen Norwich once and they were 4-0 down at half time. We have a new manager and Longstaff seemed off the pace after his injury, Miggy trying too hard and another new CF in JoeLinton. I think that is now 4 in 4 years. Mitro, Murphy/Gayle, Rondon, Joelinton.

    First home game back in the PL for Norwich. I think I will take the easy option of a draw.


  13. Longstaff left out. It’s no surprise as he certainly didn’t look fit against Arsenal. Kraft in and that is a surprise. HTL!


  14. kimtoon:


    not feeling a win anymore, was perfect game for the saint but injured (hammy ) hopefully not due to Steves training methods.

    I notice that Kim… says a lot about our squad depth (lack of) when we put 4 defenders and 2 midfielders on the bench with no strikers. I don’t really see Muto as a striker… and yet we let Sørensen go on a full season loan to a league 1 side or are Carlisle in league 2?


  15. Norwich poor at the back though, oh how we could of done with the saint and a front three today

    Close from Krafth there


  16. This is a norwich side beset by injuries and we are really struggling, terrible to watch.
    Just bloody stick to Pukki ffs, do not give him so much space and time.


  17. This looks like it will end only one way, not good for us… we have no attacking power at all, and keep giving it away… I hope Joelinton isn’t Kenedy mk 2…


  18. kimtoon:
    Joe with a free header and fluffs it, ffs

    Kim, for £40m you should expect him to score. Maybe just hit the target? That’s why he’s only scored 7 goals last season.


  19. Shocking first half, ffs this is Norwich not Man City… we are fu.cking atrocious… only Hayden and Dubravka can hold their head up so far… horrible, horrible football … ???


  20. Right, early doors but if we play like this all season we are f ecked big time.

    That was terrible to watch, just awful, our defenders have a lot of questions to answer, Pukki was completely unmarked. Missed the rest as a Labour party canvasser knocked at the door, think he wishes he hadn’t now though 😆


  21. We are second best all over the park… maybe Bruce can sub Joelinton and bring on a defender to play up front.


  22. I was thinking of going down the pub to watch but both red and blue scousers are playing and there lots of them and they are really annoying. It would probably 10 NUFC and 200 scousers trying to nick your chair if you went to the toilet.


  23. ffs Pukki again, crap crap crap defending
    Shocking absolutely awful
    Shot straight through Krafths legs 😯
    And to think defense was our strong point


  24. Can’t score
    and now can’t defend either
    Like Rafa never was here now.
    Look lost all over apart from Hayden.


  25. Embarrassing. Joelinton not looking like a number 9 and Almiron for all his bluster has not done anything since joining. Bit of a worry considering they cost 60 million between them and we have no depth of quality to step in.


  26. Eric, believe it or not i wanted him to succeed but to be fair this is shocking football, most of these players were far better than this last season.
    Krafth is poor and Joe is no Rondon, Miggy looks lost like a headless chicken, only ones worth a mention are Hayden and Dubs who kept us in it for far longer than we deserved first half.


  27. Calling it now no points from our first 8 games
    Arse, norw, spuds,Watford,Pool,Brighton,leicester,Manure and then it’s Chelsea so probs 9 .


  28. P!ss p!ss poor. Bruce got it wrong again today. Can’t see what he missed from last week. 3 in midfield does not work. Joelinton needs more help up front than just Almiron.

    Rafa may not be there but 4 of the back 5 are the same as last season 5/6 if you include the keeper – Lascelles is the captain and at the heart of that defence and should be marshalling that defence a lot better.

    Not good enough and as Eric said, Bruce will get some time, but not much. Some have already made the comparison to McClaren – and that’s the worry. Got backed in the window, got some decent players but couldn’t organise them.

    Don’t want to hear BS or excuses from Bruce – 3-0 away to Norwich is a disaster.


  29. Shocking, shocking, shocking… disgusting performance ???????

    Going down if that’s how we are going to play. We will be destroyed by better teams.


  30. Sharpy, it’s beyond upsetting this it really is.
    No way is this game lost with Rafa, Perez and Rondon, i hate Mike Ashley and his bloody ego and cheapshot running of this club.

    Think Joe is injured too.


  31. Glad I didn’t see it but the Chronicle had an article today saying we have been scouting these players for months. Joelinton and Willems since January.


  32. Joelinton is no way a £40million player… who said that before…hmmm oh yes, Rafa …. no effort at all from anyone… disgusting. What the has Bruce done to our defence? He was supposed to be one of the best defenders in his day… god help us.


  33. Lee Ryder

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @lee_ryder
    Joelinton has a hip injury and requires x-ray and scan

    Good job we have a back up striker 🙄


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