The Canaries are flying. Beaten just once in the Championship in 2019, Norwich City has hit the front, four points clear of Sheffield United and five ahead of third-placed Leeds United. Middlesbrough is next in line.
The race for the Premier League is reaching its crescendo. Seven clubs are involved in the tussle. Norwich, though, seems more likely to climb. The signs are positive.
Norwich is shocking the odds after a painful season of mediocrity. The Norfolk team is enjoying a season they could have only fantasized about: dominant, commanding and affluent.
Daniel Farke’s men have proved formidable opponents, a dangerous beast this term. The stats are mind-blogging.
No team has won more points from losing position. With 77 strikes, they flaunt the most potent attack in the division, followed by West Brom. The recent 2-1 victory at Rotherham is the club’s seventh on the spin.
Whether home or away, the Canaries are fearless. Hull, Swansea City, Millwall, Bristol, Rotherham and Bolton Wanderers fell prey. With 20 points separating Saturday’s hosts, anything other than a massacre is a bust.
Farke’s faith in youth is yielding dividends. His dynamic squad, teeming with the exuberance of a series of fledgeling academy graduates and the elegant Emil Buendía, has thrived without the burden of expectation compared with rivals.
It wasn’t the case last season. Relegation found solace at Carrow Road. As a result, Norwich braced for the departures of prized assets. With Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes, goals have flowed uncontrollably.
Signed on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, Rhodes has found shelter at Carrow Road. The 28-year-old is delivering the goods, similar to his Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers days.
However, Pukki, who joined from Brøndby, has been the class act. The 28-year-old struck is the league’s leading goalscorer with 24 strikes - that’s just two adrift of the return of the entire Bolton team.
The Finn’s strike proved vital as Tim Krul saves. The Dutchman is another summer arrival on form. A familiar name during 11 years at Newcastle United, his career seemed to have stalled at Brighton & Hove Albion. There he was mere back-up last season.
In defence, there’s a great blend of youth and experience. Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons are two youngsters showing remarkable progress. They have Ivo Pinto, Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmerman as a mentor.
Zimmerman, in particular, has been terrific. The Canaries skipper’s doggedness, resilience and aura are rubbing off on the entire team. He grabbed the second against Millwall in a fascinating style, scoring with a powerful header.
Norwich has German influence in the way they play. Mario Vrancic, Moritz Leitner, Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull were top Bundesliga campaigners.
A victory at the Riverside would certainly edge the Canaries to Premier League solace. With Pukki firing on all cylinders, another three-point on the road ultimate promotion is feasible. Still early days, though, but Norfolk Fans can dare to dream.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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