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Norwich City

Would Martin Olsson be good cover for West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell?

Jake Jackman



West Ham United are looking to strengthen their left back options after Aaron Cresswell was ruled out for up to six months with a knee injury. It will be interesting to see how Slaven Bilic deals with this as it is clear he sees Cresswell as his first choice left-back for the long term. Therefore only a temporary solution is required.

They have had a bid rejected for Martin Olsson in the region of £3m, according to Sky Sports. Norwich signed the Swedish full-back for £2.5 million three years ago and will make a small profit if they decide to sell him to West Ham. It is yet unknown whether the Hammers will return with an improved offer.

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This is another setback for the club after Hull City turned down a £7m for Andrew Robertson. West Ham have struggled to sign top targets this summer as the price of the market has soared through the roof. They may only be searching for a left-back to fill in for the next few months, but it won’t be a cheap solution given clubs know West Ham have money to spend and are desperately need to strengthen in that position.

Olsson is a limited full back and has weaknesses in his game, which is why he has played for clubs near the bottom of the Premier League. However, he would be a solid addition to cover for Cresswell and would be a good squad option thereafter. There is no need to spend big on a left back as the club have Cresswell for the long term, therefore it makes sense to target Olsson, who would be solid cover.

He was one of the better players for Norwich and rarely rotated, unlike the majority of other players at the club. At Euro 2016, he stood out for Sweden and was their best-attacking outlet as he surged forwards down the left wing. He is certainly above Championship level and he will be keen to get a move back to the top flight, especially to a club as ambitious as West Ham.

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The Swede is an attacking minded full-back and would be a like-for-like replacement for Cresswell in that sense. He has more pace than the Englishman and his high work rate allows him to get up and down the left flank for the entire game. Olsson possesses a great delivery and would add a lot to the West Ham offence. However, defensively he is suspect and not as effective as the man he would be covering for. He can make mistakes and that was evident last season as Norwich leaked goals throughout the entire campaign.

West Ham need to strengthen the left back area as they had to use Sam Byram there in their first Europa League game, and he isn’t a natural on the left side. They may need to free him up to play in his favoured right-back role, especially as Michail Antonio looked suspect there in the same match. Antonio is a right winger by trade and Bilic needs to sort out the composition of his back four quickly as they look shaky going into the season.

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They may need to increase their bid to around the £5 million mark, but if they can do a deal at that price, Olsson would be a good addition. He played regularly in the Premier League last season and didn’t look out of his depth.

As a stop-gap replacement for Aaron Cresswell, he will do well and provide the attacking threat that West Ham need at full back. However, his defending isn’t up to the level of Cresswell and that could prove to be a problem. West Ham need to sign somebody and as they are only looking for cover, Olsson is a good fit.

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Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

English Premier League

Marcus Edwards is struggling at Norwich, but so did Harry Kane

The 19-year-old Tottenham Hotspur talent is still waiting to have an impact at Carrow Road.



Tottenham Hotspur have high hopes for their talented attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards. The 19-year-old has long been one of the names on the tip of Tottenham fans tongues when it comes to talent at the club. Back in 2016 Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino likened him to his compatriot Lionel Messi – high praise.

In January Edwards was sent out on loan to Championship side Norwich City to get some first-team experience. The idea was that Edwards would get plenty of football at Carrow Road and highlight his obvious talent. Unfortunately for the teenager and Tottenham that has not been the case.

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND – JANUARY 27: Daniel Farke, Head Coach of Norwich City looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Norwich City at Griffin Park on January 27, 2018 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images)

Edwards is still waiting for his debut for the Canaries. Norwich boss Daniel Farke has criticised his lack of work off the ball. Not long after completing the signing, Farke was quoted by the Eastern Daily Press as stating:

“There is no doubt with the ball he is one of our best players. But without it, he has to grow up a bit.

“That was the reason he didn’t play for Tottenham.”

But Edwards should not be too put off if his spell at Norwich proves unsuccessful. It would not be the first time a top Tottenham talent has struggled on loan at Carrow Road. Just ask Harry Kane.

Kane joined Norwich on loan at the end of August in 2012, with the Canaries then in the Premier League. Kane played just five times for the club before he was recalled by Spurs.

NORWICH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: David Silva of Manchester City and Harry Kane of Norwich City tussle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester City at Carrow Road on December 29, 2012 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Instead of letting his Norwich nightmare get him down, Kane dusted himself and got to work. The next season was his breakthrough Tottenham campaign. With 134 goals in 204 games for the club since, Kane certainly did not let the failed Norwich loan spell hold him back.

Edwards has been praised for a change in his attitude this week by Farke and perhaps he will get a chance for Norwich before the end of the season.

If not, he can look at the example set by Kane and realise a failed loan spell can be as much a learning curve as a successful one.

Tottenham fans should also remember as much, and back Edwards when he does return to Tottenham in the summer.

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Norwich City

A project is underway at Norwich City, but is it the right one?



Norwich City
Photo: Reuters

Outsiders looking in at Norwich City would say this has been a season of regression and underachievement at Carrow Road.

Yet, as the financial implications of relegation from the Premier League linger should Norwich fail to gain promotion – which seems increasingly likely – times are tough off the field in NR1.

Amidst all this financial pressure, the need to cut cloth has been graphically displayed through the departure of four senior players for substantial fees.

In truth, Norwich is in the process of a transition.

Previously, the club has been spearheaded by an omnipotent chief executive who oversaw everything from the football recruitment to how the club is run day to day.

Now, Norwich have adopted a more continental approach to their footballing structure, installing Stuart Webber as Sporting Director, who subsequently appointed Borussia Dortmund II coach Daniel Farke as his Head Coach.

Farke arrived in Norfolk with a label of being a progressive coach who developed young talent, playing a possession based style in the process.

He was met with a reality check as to the brutality and physicality of the division, and adeptly transformed Norwich into an outfit that could grind out results. Yet, defeat to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup saw this team endure a terrible run of form which was only halted at Christmas.

This is an experiment. A rebuild the scale of which hasn’t been seen in NR1 before and, in all honesty, it is an entirely unpredictable entity.

This season supporters have felt apathy, pride and disappointed. This was supposed to be a season of improvement and progression. Instead, this team seems to be stagnating in the division whilst selling its prized asset.

The reality is Norwich is self funding and whilst the current regime is in place, the reality is Norwich will have to sell their top talent in order to progress. See Alex Pritchard, Jonny Howson and Jacob Murphy. The parameters of the debate surrounding the current top brass at Carrow Road are there to be argued all day long.

What is abundantly clear is that Norwich need to ensure they are prepared for the difficulties lying ahead and reducing the wage bill by half, whilst attempting to fill a £30 million hole in the finances with the sales of top talent, is both logical and necessary.

Whilst the squad has changed dramatically, there is still a sense that Farke hasn’t formed a side which is capable of applying his intricate philosophy. In terms of recruitment thus far, Webber and Farke have prioritised steading a backline which leaked profusely last campaign.

With the experience of Grant Hanley and the insurgence of Christoph Zimmermann, Norwich’s reargued is a more balanced and reliable unit. Now attentions have been turned onto the other end of the pitch as Norwich’s toothless nature has been seen all too often.

When James Maddison’s reliable radar is astray, Norwich looks inept and devoid of any imagination. Offensively, the Canaries require differentiation in regards to how they offensively approach games. Norwich must retain the services of the young Englishman to keep this upward mobility discovered prior to Sheffield United.

Everything offensively positive has come through Maddison.

This is a side lacking athleticism and pace in wide areas, but also lack a striker who fits perfectly into Farke’s style.

With more bodies incoming in the days approaching, Farke should have a deeper squad at his disposal alongside some funds to recruit talent with the money gained from Pritchard’s sale.

This philosophy is still in the early days of construction. The frameworks and apparatus are still being put into place with Webber ensuring the academy is improved and there is a clear pathway for young players, like Jamal Lewis, to step up and play in the first team.

A pathway through the loan system has also been established. For a club with increasingly limited resources, Norwich will become reliant on their academy in regards to making money and improving the first team.

So where is Norwich at present?

Considering the change which has occurred from top to bottom at this football club and the constraints of the financial straitjacket in which Farke has had to operate, alongside seeing four instrumental players leaving in his first six month in charge, Norwich are left with a disjointed squad. However, Farke is doing a good job.

He has displayed he has the qualities and tactical nous to take this football club forward, and that he buys into the long term project in place. His reliance on young players will be of benefit to the football club in the long-term, while he looks set to ensure the academy is prosperous for the future.

This is a project, and one Norwich need to stick with.

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Norwich City 0-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from Carrow Road

Jake Jackman




Chelsea will have to rely on a replay after failing to beat Norwich City at Carrow Road. It was a very poor performance from a much-changed Premier League side and they will have to be a lot better if they are to qualify for the fourth round. Despite the changes, the team was filled with internationals and they should have had enough to beat their Championship opposition. Antonio Conte forced himself into a corner as he had Alvaro Morata on the bench alongside a selection of young talent.

The home side may regret their poor final product in this match, as they did have chances against an unconvincing Chelsea defence. Josh Murphy cause problems with his pace, while James Maddison and Alex Pritchard showed why they are highly-rated in the second tier. The replay at Stamford Bridge will be a good occasion for the club and serve as a reminder of their aim to return to the top-flight. Here are three talking points from Carrow Road:

David Luiz doesn’t look like he wants to be at Chelsea

The centre-back returned back to the club last summer and received a great reaction from the supporters when the singing was announced. He has always had a good relationship with them since his first spell with the club and there was hope that Antonio Conte would bring the best out of him.

Last season, the Brazilian was central to the team’s title win and he looked like he was finally calming down, but the mood has switched this season. There appears to have been a breakdown in trust between the manager and the player, which was shown in this match. David Luiz lost focus on a few occasions and made mistakes that nearly led to goals.

He also received a needless booking for an overzealous challenge. If he was wanting to play himself back into Conte’s plans, he went about it in the wrong way. The Chelsea boss will want to sell him during this window if he can.

Angus Gunn is a huge talent

The Norwich City goalkeeper delivered an assured performance against Chelsea and will be delighted with the clean sheet. He has been one of the better goalkeepers in the Championship this season and this display brought him to the attention of the wider British footballing public. The Canaries won’t want to lose him for a long time, but it is obvious that he has the potential to play at a higher level.

During the match, he made an impressive seven saves to ensure his side earned a replay. Although Chelsea didn’t play well, the goalkeeper was still required on several occasions and everything he was asked to do was completed with style. Gunn showed good control of his area and regularly came off his line to relieve pressure on his team-mates. This is the mark of a confident goalkeeper and he will have gained a lot from this cup tie.

His distribution wasn’t as effective as the rest of his game, but he is only 21 and he has time to develop that side of his game. It would be unfair to be overly critical of it as he was asked to play long balls to try and release the pace that Norwich had in attack. There were a few very good performances from the home side, but Gunn’s was the pick of the bunch.

Chelsea are reliant on a few individuals

It wasn’t the right that was worrying for Antonio Conte, but the complete lack of ideas from those on the pitch. Willian showed good endeavour and tried to make things happen, but there was nobody else capable of supporting him. As the game developed, it was obvious that the Blues were missing Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and N’Golo Kante. Without those three players, this team looked very ordinary.

Tieumoue Bakayoko was a particular disappointment as he continued his tough start in a Chelsea shirt. The midfielder was viewed as a replacement for Nemanja Matic, but he has yet to convince supporters that he is good enough to be a starter for the club. He dithered on the ball and was regularly caught on it by the alert Norwich players.

The next month is going to be crucial for Chelsea, as it is clear this squad needs an injection of quality. Ross Barkley has already arrived and he will be able to add something different to the squad, as he can create from deep. It could be that he is viewed as another option in the centre of the park to partner N’Golo Kante. Given time, he could develop into a very good player for the Blues, but further additions are needed.

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