Tuesday, September 27, 2011

P.L. 2011 2012 Norwich Sunderland

26 September 2011
Carrow Road,
Norwich, Norfolk

Referee: C. Foy
Attendance: 26107  

 If you'd wandered up to a Norwich City fan on the evening of August 8, 2009 and totd them they'd be rubbing shoulders with England's elite in two years, you may well have got a bop on the nose. That was the day Paul Lambert's Colchester thumped the Canaries 7-1 in their League One season opener -the worst home defeat in Norwich's 109-year history. Lambert became their boss soon afterwords, and promptly masterminded bock-to-back promotions. In fact, the club's biggest feat of the summer has been keeping Lambert at the helm, despite interest from the claret-and-blue clubs of both East London and the West Midlands. 
 He has acted quickly in the transfer market, signing striker Steve Morison from Millwall, midfielders Elliott Bennett (Brighton) and Bradley Johnson (Leeds) as well as winger Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield) - all unproven at this level but just the type of hungry player Lambert likes. The anticipation around the city now is a mixture of trepidation and great excitement. Fans will be out in force home and away, with season tickets having to be capped at 21,000 nd regular travelling crowds of 3,000 in the !hompionship. Wonder through the city on matchday and you won't walk more than few yards without seeing the brilliant yellow ynonymous with this comer of East Anglio.
Happy-clappy, ban on a -co loured relegation fodder who will roll over at the first sight of football overlords like Wayne fiooney or Fernando Torres stepping off the team bus. A well-organised, physically fit side who will give the Premie' League their very best shot at playing cultured football the way the club's fans expect it to be played. Lambert's continental leanings have Norwich playing a midfield diamond supported by marauding full-backs. The team play to a relentless high tempo, and any big-time Charlies who think they can rock up at Carrow Road for an easy three points should think again. Fans rarely get a chance to moan about changes as Lambert beats them to the punch. He'll often switch to a straight up 4-4-2, and if he really needs a goal, the appearance of a third striker isn't unusual. Late goals Remarkably, the Canaries picked up 16 points from goals scored after the 86th minute. High levels of fitness and a never-soy-die attitude mean they .ever give up. Getting forward from midfield and full-bock positions is key for City this season. Right-back Russell Martin, known as the 'Norfolk Cafu', likes to get up and down, and he played every minute of every gome last season. 
 Upfront, Grant Holt notched 21 goals in the Championship and Norwich will need him to moke the step up if they have any hope of survival. Likewise, new signing James Vaughon will have to reach the heights that his early-career form at Everton promised. Defensively they will struggle, particularly down the middle. Leon Barnett is corning back from a nasty hamstring injury he picked up towards the end of last season; his experience will be vital. The season-long loan of Belgian centre-bock Ritchie De Laet from Manchester United is a step in the right direction but he's a novice at this level, while the forward raids of the full-backs may need to be curtailed o touch as positional naivety will be punished far more in the Premier League. Begin with o bang. Norwich got off to o sluggish start at home last term, with all four of their Carrow Road defeats coming in the first half of the campaign. They cannot allow that to happen this time, with winnable early home fixtures against Stoke, West Brom, Sunderland, Swansea and Blackburn. To launch their new Italian-made home kit, the Norwich first team turned actors -hamming it up in a video doing very Italian things like sipping espresso, riding scooters and rolling around on the floor when tackled. Paul Lambert + fervent home support hungry new signings with something to prove at Premier League level - surprise package. 
Sunderland went from Europa League hopefuls to Championship candidates last term. Erratic form in the second half of the season undid much of the good work at the start. Their downfall owed much to on unprecedented injury crisis, which left Steve Bruce with barely a striker to take a shot and saw them sucked towards the relegation whirlpool. But they swam clear and ended up finishing 10th - with the added bonus of claiming bragging rights over Tyne-Wear rivals Newcastle, who blew a three-goal lead on the final day to finish beneath Bruce's side. Bad luck with injuries aside, Black Cots fans may poin to the £2Am sole of Darren Bent in January their reversal in fortunes - in his absence  underland struggled to find the net. Five mon hs later, as Jordan Henderson finalised   is £17m switch to Liverpool, serious question marks were being raised over the club's ambitions. But thankfully for Bruce, he's been able to re-invest: in comes exciting teen striker Connor Wickham from Ipswich in a deal that could rise to £12m, along with Wes Brown and John O'Shea from Manchester United, Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson from Birmingham, keeper Keiren Westwood from Coventry and South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won.

A confused club not quite sure of what their aims should be. With Irish-American owner Ellis Short bank-rolling the club's assault on the Premier League, Sunderland have the financial clout to arm their ranks with top players. But for all their fiscal flexing, their transfer policy appears to lack cohesion and strategy, with players flying in and out of the club. Still progressing nicely. For all the doom and gloom cast over the Stadium of Light at the end of the season, they finished 10th compared to 13th and 16th in the previous two seosons, with a 3-0 win at West Ham on the final day of the season ensuring their top-half finish. A slick, high-tempo approach based on jet-heeled strikers. Which would all be very well if Bent hadn't jumped ship to Aston Villa, the impressive Danny Welbeck hadn't returned to Manchester United after a loan spell and Fraizer Campbell wasn't out injured until spring 2012. Getting fresh attacking support for Asamoah Cyan was crucial for Bruce, and of the new faces, Wickham and Larsson in particular could quickly find themselves in the first team. Frontline reinforcements -With the goals drying up at an alarming rate since Bent's exit, signings such os goalscoring midfielder Craig Gardner will give Bruce extra options. There wasn't much of one lost season when the wheels began to fall off. Long, aimless bolls launched from the back bypassed the midfield and left Gyon fighting for scraps against bulldozing centre-backs. This way of playing is not really Bruce's style, but it demonstrated his lack of options.

Their academy. Sunderland have a number of promising youngsters, led by striker Craig Lynch, midfielder Jack Colback - who looks a ready-made replacement for Henderson -and defender Louis Laing. Lack of goals is the obvious one - although with Gyan the one ft striker towards the end of the season, it's no wonder they were struggling to find the target. Even accounting for the new signings the Sunderland squad needs some reinforcing with Welbeck, John Mensoh, Sulley Muntari and Nedum Onuoha all returning to their clubs after loan spells and Boudewijn Zenden leaving on a free, A lack of cohesion might be a problem at first, too. Start better and finish better. Sunderland won just once in their opening eight games and didn't win in nine games after Bent left for villa Park in January. In the months between, they weren't half bad. Sunderland supporters were named the best-behaved last season. Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn asked the fans how they wanted to spend the £20,000 prize money. Pies and beers all round then? Bruce looks to have spent the Darren Bent money well, but it may take a season for all his new signings to bed in properly.

Codec H264, Mkv
Bitrate 1000
Sound 128 kbps
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