Norwich Struggles To Continue In Championship?
Wolves v Norwich
Two clubs going in opposite directions last season meet in an intriguing Championship opener on Sunday when Wolves entertain Norwich at Molineux.
The confidence which saw Wolves storm to the League One title with over 100 points has continued into the summer months with Kenny Jackett’s men completing an unbeaten run of seven games in the off season. Their five wins came against Crewe, Oxford, Cheltenham and on their short trip around Ireland against Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians – who are both well into their domestic campaign.
Draws against Peterboro and in their most recent game against Spanish outfit Celta Vigo completed the fixtures. Front pair Nouha Dicko, with four, and Leon Clarke, who grabbed six, have both seen the goals flow over the summer and will be hungry to get into the real action now.
Norwich also completed an unbeaten run of friendlies over the summer last weekend with a 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo. They also claimed a notable 5-1 win over French top flight outfit Nice a fortnight ago while also holding another Ligue 1 side, Bastia, to a draw.
Wins over Derham Town and Braintree Town were little more than fitness exercises and although it’s certainly better to have won games than lost them, little should be read into the results even if boss Neil Adams can be rightfully delighted to have seen his side score 15 times in five games, with new strikers Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban netting three each.
Jackett has had little problem in leaving revered players out in the cold, with the likes of Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Jamie O’Hara and Roger Johnson all being denied squad numbers by the boss and likely to make swift exits from the club. It’s better times for new arrivals Rajiv van La Parra and Tommy Rowe though with the duo in line for competitive debuts for their new club.
New signing Gary O’Neil is suspended for Norwich as the midfielder was sent off in the last season’s playoff final for QPR before his arrival in East Anglia. Lafferty and Grabban are expected to form a formidable front pair this term and should take their bows for their new club here.
These clubs last clashed in the Premier League 2011/2012 campaign which saw Wolves eventually relegated. It finished 2-2 at Molineux that season with the visitors twice taking the lead through Andrew Surman and Simeon Jackson only to be pegged back with goals from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Ronald Zubar. The Canaries were 2-1 winners at Carrow Road that season and haven’t been beaten by Wolves since September 2007 with Norwich’s unbeaten run in the fixture stretching to five games while there have also been 20 goals in the last four outings between them.
It can often be easier for promoted sides to hit the ground running in the Championship, as Southampton and Norwich themselves have shown with successive promotions in recent years, with the momentum and belief success brings with it carrying them through.
Norwich still have more familiar and talented players on paper but their struggles, particularly in front of goal, in the Premier League last season are sure to take some rectifying…
…so the 12/5 odds on an away win don’t hold much sway here. The 5/4 on Wolves continuing where they left off last term looks too good to refuse in this match particularly so considering a team that picked up nine points on their travels last season are their opponents.
With ten goals in pre-season between the strike pairing of Clarke and Dicko either, or both, could prove great investments to get on the scoresheet anytime too with odds of 7/4 and 8/5 respectively looking more than generous.