Norwich will be looking to make it back-to-back wins at the start of their 2020/21 Championship campaign when they host Preston North End on Saturday afternoon – managed by former City boss Alex Neil.
The Canaries opened their league season with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town last weekend, while Preston started with a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Swansea City.
So here’s Joe from Canary Cast with five things to look out for this weekend.
Neil usually gets a warm welcome at Carrow Road, and with City getting the go-ahead to allow 1,000 season ticket holders into the ground for the first home game of the season, I am sure this time will be no different.
Neil enters his fourth season as Preston boss, and with previous finishes of 7th, 14th and 9th, Preston fans would be forgiven for thinking they have an outside chance of reaching the playoffs this season.
However, Preston are yet to conduct any incoming business this transfer window, with both fans and Neil becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation.
This is made worse by the speculation surrounding key players in their last year of their contract, with both Ben Davies and Daniel Johnson being linked with Bournemouth and Rangers, respectively.
Frustration amongst the fanbase has grown to such a point that Peter Ridsdale, advisor to Preston’s owner, has addressed the transfer speculation this week, stating the club will only sell at the right price – something he did in January 2018 in relation to the sale of Jordan Hugill to West Ham, before approving to transfer just a day later.
Football clubs can be cyclical, every so often there is a change in management, or a freshening up of the playing staff – Norwich have done as much this summer – and with Neil entering his fourth season in charge it does feel like a big season for him, but he isn’t getting much cooperation from the boardroom.
Hugill & a Selection Headache
This fixture sees a Jordan Hugill face up against his former club, with the target man previously spending four years at Preston.
Hugill is yet to feature for City in the league, with Farke opting to start Pukki at Huddersfield, and then bring Adam Idah off the bench to grab the winning goal.
City fans were surprised Farke didn’t opt to bring-on Hugill in that moment, and so you would imagine Jordan is even more desperate to lineup against his former employer.
Daniel Farke certainly has a selection headache up top this weekend, there is an argument to start all three of his strikers. Pukki put in a solid performance against Huddersfield and provided the assist for the winning goal, albeit courtesy of Richard Stearman.
Adam Idah scored the winner at Huddersfield and, back in January, scored a hattrick at Deepdale in the FA Cup.
Regardless of whether Hugill starts the game, you would imagine he will see some minutes at some point, however, he will want to impress as he is quickly becoming City’s third-choice striker, in my book at least.
He’s 5’7, he’s football heaven. The diminutive Argentine is, in my opinion, the best player in the Championship by some distance. Yes, he can throw his arms up in the air and sulk at times, but let’s be honest, he is a Champions League standard of player, in the Championship.
Emi was suspended for the first couple of competitive games at Luton and Huddersfield, but is now available and is good enough to walk into the starting eleven, despite a win and a clean sheet without him last weekend.
Norwich fans should enjoy every minute the Argentine stays a City player, I have a feeling Stuart Webber will be rebuffing offers for him left, right and centre, before the transfer window closes. This has of course been heightened further this week after Buendia revealed in an interview that he wishes to play Premier League football this season – fair enough, he is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Well, they share the same birthday.
Preston struggled to deal with Swansea’s marauding wingbacks getting in behind the defence – Bidwell in particular – and if they caused problems for the Preston defence, I suspect Max Aarons and Xavi Quintilla will kindly oblige to do the same.
Max Aarons makes the Championship look very easy, during his first campaign (2018-’19) I can genuinely only remember one mistake – against Forest on Boxing Day – and if he keeps up this trend in the early part of this season, he could be another one Stuart Webber struggles to keep hold of.
Declan Rudd is another player returning to face his old employer. He is fresh back from a thigh injury that kept him out of Preston’s curtain raiser against Swansea.
The former Norwich man started at Derby in the Carabao Cup midweek and will be looking to re-establish his place as Alex Neil’s first choice goalkeeper after playing every single league game last campaign.
Interestingly, it was Alex Neil that sold Rudd as a young keeper at Norwich, this is after he had given Rudd a run of games in the Premier League in which he impressed.
However, Rudd seems to have done enough to convince Neil that he is his first-choice goalkeeper at Preston. Not that they would buy anyone to replace him anyway!
For the latest Norwich v Preston odds click here
About Canary Cast
Canary Cast – created and run by Joe, Jacob and Harvey – is a video podcast focused on the exploits of Norwich City Football Club.
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