Newcastle boss Steve Bruce must exploit Norwich City’s ‘League One standard’ defending, after top BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson suggested the Canaries’ backline was a ‘major worry’ following their hammering away to Liverpool.
Daniel Farke’s side lost their first game back in the Premier League as reigning Championship champions 4-1, and were already three goals down inside 28 minutes.
An own goal by Norwich centre-back Grant Hanley opened the scoring in the seventh minute, but even if he had not been at fault, the Reds were primed and ready to seize on the unsettled ranks of their would-be victims.
Often the back four of Max Aarons, Hanley, Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis were out of line with one another, meaning any chipped pass over a full-back or through ball past a centre-half would leave a forward with space to attack.
Bruce must set Newcastle out to thrive on the chances this could present, and Lawrenson doubts any sudden improvements from the Canaries will be on the cards, as Farke’s men were never a rigid defensive unit on route to the second-tier crown.
“Norwich have to be applauded for the fact they created chances against Liverpool in their defeat at Anfield on Friday,” Lawrenson wrote in his weekly predictions. “The only problem is that if you look at the goals the Canaries conceded, their defending was more like League One standard. That is a major worry.
“Newcastle also played one of the leading clubs, and lost at home to Arsenal. The Magpies could maybe have done a bit more going forward but, although I think Steve Bruce is going to take a bit of time to work out what his best team is, I don’t think they are going to struggle.
“Bruce’s side will have to deal with a lively atmosphere at Carrow Road in Norwich’s first home game back in the top flight, and the Canaries will be at full throttle.
“Daniel Farke’s side are dangerous, but I do worry about them – they scored lots of goals in the Championship last season, but they conceded a load too. If they are going to be as open as they were at Anfield when they play at home as well, then they are going to get some beatings.”
In their 46 Championship fixtures last season, Norwich conceded 57 goals – seven more than Stoke City, who finished the term in 16th place.
They have already conceded four in the top-flight, and Lawrenson expects the Canaries net to ripple twice at the weekend, as we push on for a 2-1 win.