Norwich City’s bid to return to the Premier League could not have started much worse.
Alongside a 1-0 loss to recently-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Canaries saw defender Martin Olsson sent off and charged by the FA for improper conduct after he appeared to push referee Simon Hooper. There were headlines made off the pitch too as the club temporarily suspended two fans from Carrow Road following an investigation into alleged racism. Hardly the opening the fans were hoping for.
Whilst the season is only one game old, the defeat does continue Norwich’s run of opening league matches without a victory, which stretches back to 2002.
In addition, an impressive Watford side will hardly be on top of manager Neil Adams’ wish-list at the moment; the 48-year-old is yet to win a match in charge of Norwich since he took over from former boss Chris Hughton in April.
With difficult matches against Blackburn, Ipswich and Bournemouth to follow, Adams may be wary of reaching his tenth league game in charge without a victory to his name.
Although Norwich’s home form last season was not too disappointing, it was on the road where the team struggled. Of their 33 points earned in the Premier League, only nine came away from Carrow Road; two wins and three draws. Throughout the season, scoring goals proved a difficult task, with only 28 managed; the lowest of any team in the Premier League. However, despite the inefficiencies up front, goalkeeper John Ruddy did manage 12 clean sheets; as many as Manchester United’s David de Gea.
In the transfer window, Norwich can take solace that the majority of the squad has remained intact. Anthony Pilkington’s seemingly imminent move to Cardiff City would make him only one of two players sold; with the other being Hull City new boy Robert Snodgrass. In addition to this, misfiring striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel has joined French club St Etienne on a season-long loan.
Three players have joined the club this summer; Lewis Grabban, from Bournemouth, Kyle Lafferty from Palermo and Gary O’Neill on a free transfer from QPR.
Norwich will be hoping Grabban can continue his goal scoring form against Watford; the striker netted in both matches against The Hornets last season for AFC Bournemouth.
Whilst Watford played away at Stevenage midweek in the Capital One Cup, Norwich were entitled to a first round bye and will enter the tournament in the second round against League One Crawley Town, who knocked out Ipswich Town in their opening cup game.
Norwich set out in a 4-4-2 diamond formation against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Olsson is suspended and will be joined on the sidelines by Gary Hooper and Jonny Howson who are both injured. Gary O’Neill is available to make his debut, following a one-game suspension, for a red card earned in the play-off final.