Last season: 2nd in Championship
FA Cup: 3rd Round
Carling Cup: 2nd Round
Opening three fixtures: Wigan (a), Stoke (h), Chelsea (a)
Title odds: 5,000/1
Chances: Not a cat’s chance in hell. I’m going to try and talk up Norwich’s chances of survival below, but tipping them for the title’s stretching it a bit far.
Finishing in top four odds: 200/1
Chances: Again, manager Paul Lambert has worked miracles since his arrival from Colchester almost two years ago, but masterminding a top-four finish might be beyond even the former Celtic legend.
Odds for relegation: 7/10
Odds for staying up: 21/20
Chances: Norwich are second-favourites to go down behind Swansea in bwin’s relegation betting market, although this is not reflective of the general consensus in Norfolk. The Norwich board have backed Lambert in the transfer market and the Scot has brought in seven players to boost the Canaries’ survival chances. While there have been suggestions that a lack of Premier League experience in the squad could cost them dear, Norwich fans are backing Lambert to get it right yet again and follow up League One title success and promotion from the Championship with Premier League respectability. As such, odds of 21/20 on Norwich staying up could be a better bet than backing them to go down at 7/10.
Verdict: Like Blackpool under Ian Holloway last season, Norwich are likely to use attack as their best form of defence in the Premier League. Top scorers in the Championship last season, Norwich have added to their options going forward through the signings of Elliott Bennett, Anthony Pilkington, Steve Morison and James Vaughan in an attempt to carry a similar threat in the Premier League. But their attacking prowess comes at the expense of a soft underbelly, particularly given the desire of full-backs Russell Martin and Marc Tierney to get forward and supply the width needed to make Lambert’s preferred diamond formation work. With this in mind, Lambert has also brought in tough-tackling midfielder Bradley Johnson on a free and Ritchie de Laet and Kyle Naughton on loan from Manchester United and Tottenham respectively.
The big question will be whether Lambert successfully finds the balance between carrying a threat going forward and keeping things tight at the back. Given his track record, expect him to steer Norwich clear of the drop and pick up a few notable scalps along the way. The Canaries will need to hit the ground running though, as a perilous-looking run-in means they will be in serious trouble if they approach they end of the season still needing points to guarantee survival.
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