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Norwich City 2021-22 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Norwich City's disappointing 2021-22 campaign, including statistics, standout moments and our final verdict.

Norwich City's miserable Premier League season came to an humiliating end with a 5-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Carrow Road on Sunday.

The result capped another poor year in the top flight, which resulted in the Canaries making an immediate return to the Championship once again.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Norwich City's disappointing 2021-22 campaign, including statistics, standout moments and our final verdict.



SEASON OVERVIEW

Norwich City's Pierre Lees-Melou looks dejected after the match on May 11, 2022© Reuters

Final league position: 20th

EFL Cup: Third round

FA Cup: Fifth round

Top scorer: Teemu Pukki (11)

Most assists: Teemu Pukki (4)

Following a second Championship title in three years, Norwich found themselves back in the top flight again for the 2021-22 season, looking to avoid an immediate return to the second tier once more.

A summer of squad building for manager Daniel Farke was dealt a catastrophic blow when Aston Villa came calling for Emiliano Buendia, who had lit up the Championship again with 15 goals and 16 assists in 39 appearances during the title-winning season.

Therefore, much of the goalscoring burden looked to be falling on the shoulders of Pukki once again, although Milot Rashica looked an interesting arrival to help fill the burden left behind by Buendia.

Billy Gilmour, Ben Gibson, Brandon Williams, Mathias Normann, Ozan Kabak and Josh Sargent were amongst the other arrivals as Farke spread the proceeds of the Buendia sale across numerous acquisitions.

However, as there has been in recent unsuccessful Premier League campaigns, a lack of top-flight experience, as well as leaders and aggression, were in short supply once more.

A relentless fixture schedule to open the 2021-22 campaign was unforgiving to Norwich's hopes of carrying their momentum from promotion into this season, with Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City and Arsenal faced in their opening four fixtures.

 Norwich City manager Daniel Farke looks dejected after the match against Leeds United on October, 31© Reuters

Unsurprisingly, the Canaries lost all four games, and would then go on to lose four of their next six, with goalless draws with Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion the only relief provided.

However, the 6-0 thumping of the eventual Championship runners-up Bournemouth in the second round of the EFL Cup did at least provide some rare joy in between the maulings in the league, whilst also displaying a glimpse of the quality that Farke's side had in them.

A 2-1 win at newly-promoted Brentford on November 6 saw Norwich record their first three points of the season to provide a glimmer of hope, but the writing was already on the wall and Farke was relieved of his duties despite the morale-boosting victory.

Following his sacking at Aston Villa, Dean Smith was the man brought in to save the Canaries, with one eye also on the 51-year-old's credentials in the Championship were he unable to save them.

Beating Southampton 2-1 in his first game boosted those slim hopes of survival drastically, and Norwich finally looked like a side capable of competing with the big boys in the top flight.

However, Smith could only manage three more league wins for the rest of the campaign, as Norwich dropped out of the top flight with a whimper at the first time of asking yet again.

Brief moments of joy arrived in the previously-mentioned Bournemouth win, as well as victories over Charlton Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup, but following the fifth-round defeat to eventual winners Liverpool, there was little else for Norwich supporters to cheer about in a hugely demoralising season that displayed the huge gap in quality between the Championship and the Premier League yet again.



PREMIER LEAGUE STATS

Wins: 5 (20th)
Draws: 7 (=12th)
Losses: 26 (2nd)
Goals scored: 23 (20th)
Goals conceded: 84 (1st)
Yellow cards: 55 (=16th)
Red cards: 1 (=15th)
Passes: 14,466 (16th)
Shots: 373 (20th)
Big chances missed: 27 (19th)
Saves: 142 (2nd)
Tackles: 614 (10th)
Own goals: 2 (=4th)
Hit woodwork: 9 (=16th)
Clearances: 816 (3rd)



HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?

Norwich City's Mathias Normann, Kenny McLean and Teemu Pukki look dejected on March 5, 2022© Reuters

Considering Norwich played some fantastic football on the way to the Championship title in a 97-point-tally 2020-21 campaign, this season could not have been too much different.

The step up in quality between the two divisions was far too much for the Canaries to handle again, particularly when it came to the final third of the pitch.

Farke's Norwich netted 75 goals in their 46 Championship outings, before the Norfolk side registered a disappointingly low tally of just 23 in their 38 Premier league games this season under Farke and Smith.

Cup runs were similar to last year, with first-round and fourth-round exits in the EFL Cup and FA Cup suffered respectively in 2020-21, when promotion was the primary focus.

In terms of Norwich's last season in the top flight, in the COVID-hit 2019-20 campaign, their results, and the eventual outcome proved all too familiar.

Just five wins were recorded throughout the extended 2019-20 season, as Norwich went on to finish at the foot of the table with just 26 goals scored - meaning this season was almost an awful identical repeat of how they fared in the top flight last time.



PLAYER OF THE SEASON - TEEMU PUKKI

Norwich City's Teemu Pukki celebrates scoring their second goal on April 10, 2022© Reuters

In such a disastrous season it would be quite easy to skip past this section for Norwich, as not one player stepped up to the plate to provide the required quality and fight that it takes to stay in the top flight.

Normann provided some bright moments on occasion from midfield, as the Norwegian looked like one of very few players that could provide the creative spark that had been lacking since the summer departure of Buendia, and the fall out of favour for Todd Cantwell too.

However, perhaps the only player could hold his head a little high would be Pukki once again, with the Finnish striker leading the club's goalscoring and assist charts.

Netting 11 of his side 23 league goals this season (47.8%) is maybe the standout statistic of this Premier League campaign, as Norwich failed to provide the support required to take the workload and burden off the 32-year-old's shoulders.

With a contract extension agreed to keep Pukki at the club until 2023, he is sure to be the main man again next season when Smith looks to his striker to lead the Canaries to another Championship promotion.



STANDOUT RESULT

Norwich City's Ben Gibson is shown a yellow card by referee Andy Madley against Chelsea on October 23, 2021© Reuters

Given Norwich's season, which yielded just eight wins across all competitions, there were not too many excellent days that stood out.

Very few would be deserving of an honour too, although the back-to-back wins over Brentford and Southampton under two different managers in November perhaps provided the only glimmer of hope for the Norwich faithful during an awful year.

However, our choice for the standout result is in fact a negative one, or a humiliating one in fact.

The 7-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 23 highlighted the significant gulf in class between Norwich and much of the division.

Admittedly, Thomas Tuchel's side could record a hammering against many teams when they hit top gear, but this particular result inflicted a seventh defeat of the Premier League season on Norwich in only their ninth outing, and left them wondering how much lower their campaign could get.

If one game could ever sum up a team's season, it would probably be this one for the Canaries, with the day filled with continuous moments of misery, which was topped off when Gibson was sent off shortly after the hour mark for his second booking in just 10 minutes.

> Click here for a full list of Norwich City's results from the 2021-22 season.



BEST MOMENT

Josh Sargent celebrates scoring for Norwich City against Bournemouth in the EFL Cup on August 24, 2021© Reuters

As alluded to throughout this review, there are not too many positive moments to choose from in Norwich's entire season, never mind a particular 'best' one.

The one positive result that stands out in particular though is the 6-0 hammering of Bournemouth in the EFL Cup on August 24.

It may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, with the Canaries being knocked out by Liverpool in the next round anyway, but the excellent performance at Carrow Road provided a great deal of entertainment for the home faithful.

Young Greek forward Christos Tzolis, signed from PAOK just 12 days earlier, bagged himself a brace of goals and assists, and although he was restricted to very few minutes in the Premier League, the 20-year-old got the Norwich fans off their seats with an outstanding display.

Given the Cherries' eventual promotion to the top flight thanks to a runners-up finish in the 2021-22 Championship season, the remarkable result highlighted the quality that Norwich still possessed, but it was unfortunate on their behalf that it very rarely featured all year.

The wins over Brentford and Southampton under Farke and Smith are notable mentions when viewed as a pair of results, but given the display and the winning margin, our choice is the 6-0 victory over the Cherries.



TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER

Norwich City's Todd Cantwell on the pitch ahead of the match on January 15, 2022© Reuters

As most summers are for Norwich, this one looks to be an important one once more as Smith looks to rebuild his squad and pick them up off the floor in order to target an immediate return to the top flight.

A host of departures are expected at Carrow Road, with loan deals for Kabak, Williams, Gilmour and Normann coming to an end, whilst the likes of Lukas Rupp are leaving upon the expiration of their contracts in June.

Max Aarons is likely to have his suitors again, with potential proceeds for the right-back likely to prove significant in determining the budget available to Smith.

However, a potential game-changer for their promotion bid next season could be the return of Cantwell, with Bournemouth deciding against the option of turning his loan deal into a permanent one.

After falling out of favour under previous manager Farke, Cantwell was shipped out on a temporary deal to the Cherries in the January transfer window, but despite initally being utilised regularly, the Norwich academy graduate was used sparingly in the closing stages of the 2021-22 campaign.

The 24-year-old has hit a speedbump in his otherwise promising career to date, but should Smith be able to get the winger firing again, he could certainly be a standout performer in the Championship next season.



FINAL VERDICT

The 2021-22 campaign for Norwich was nothing short of a disaster, whichever direction it is viewed from.

As per previous years, the squad that was assembled under Farke last summer lacked Premier League experience, as well as the required fight and aggression to go toe to toe with the rest of the division.

The low rankings in tackles and yellow cards when compared to the other 19 teams are clear evidence to this fact, despite being a side that would be expected, and did, have to defend on a regular basis in matches.

An over-reliance on Pukki was also clear to see once again after the losses of Buendia and Cantwell, who had chipped in with so many goal contributions during the success of recent years, and a poor recruitment strategy last summer left Farke and Smith with very little creativity and goals within their squad.

Combine it all together in a division that takes no prisoners, and this is the kind of season that you can expect to endure, as the Canaries have all too often found out in recent years.


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Norwich City's Todd Cantwell on the pitch ahead of the match on January 15, 2022
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