Can Norwich City maintain form to gain Premier League promotion?
Norwich City is proving this season's surprise package in the Championship. The Canaries lead the way with 33 points from 17 games. They have played some impressive football en route to the top.
Having plied their trade in the Premier League during recent times, Norwich look like genuine promotion candidates once again. Though not many believed they would be doing so well at this point of the campaign.
How are Norwich causing a stir in the Championship?
Daniel Farke oversaw a Norwich side which underperformed during his first season in English football. Their 14th-place finish last time out left fans questioning the German's future at Carrow Road. He is making up for it this campaign, however.
Farke had previously been in charge of Borussia Dortmund II, where he was responsible for developing young players. With his Canaries contract set to expire in May, it would be wise to tie him down for longer in order to ward off any potential opportunists.
Norwich delved into the transfer window this past summer to snap up Tim Krul on a free transfer. The Dutch goalkeeper is a familiar name among English football fans, having been on Newcastle United's books for 11 years. His career looked to have stalled at Brighton & Hove Albion, where he was the back-up last season, but the Canaries have since offered him the chance to impress as their number one. Second to Krul is Michael McGovern, an experienced Northern Ireland international. Highly-rated youngster Aston Oxborough is the other option.
Norwich possess a great blend of youth and experience defensively. Youngsters such as Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons have made their breakthroughs to become first-team regulars. They are learning a lot from the more senior defenders in Ivo Pinto, Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmerman. It's all come together. Farke's side have tightened up at the back since last campaign.
Norwich have a real German influence in the way they play. This is due to their recruitment during Farke's reign. Central midfielders Mario Vrancic, Moritz Leitner, Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull all have Bundesliga experience. Each is capable of performing at the top level. Their quality mixes in nicely with other midfielders who know the Championship inside out, such as Alex Tettey and the soon-to-be-fit Ben Marshall.
Signing Emiliano Buendia from Getafe in the summer has proven an inspired piece of business. The 21-year-old makes things happen. He has a bright future. The Canaries can also call on Todd Cantell, another precious asset, one from their academy who will no doubt soon be a regular. Farke's other midfield options include Onel Hernandez, Ben Godfrey, Kenny McLean and Louis Thompson, who are all decent and dependable.
Jordan Rhodes arrived in July on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. The 28-year-old striker looks to have found a home at Carrow Road. Norwich are getting the best from him, similar to what he produced during his Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers days. He's scored eight goals in all competitions so far this season.
The Canaries also signed Teemu Pukki from Brøndby this past summer. The Finland international has had no problems adapting to Championship life, bagging 10 goals in 15 games. Dennis Srbeny and Carlton Morris add further striking depth.
Can they maintain form?
Norwich have been able to go about their business under the radar. Farke will hope this continues. With Rhodes and Pukki up front, the Canaries will always score goals. They are currently the Championship's third-highest scorers. However, an injury to either of their two regular frontmen will hit hard as other striking options are not as strong.
The January transfer window will be massive for Norwich. Not just in terms of signing new players to boost promotion chances, but also what improvements their biggest challengers make.
Playoffs. The Canaries' impressive form suggests a top-six finish is a definite possibility. Most of their fans would have accepted that before the campaign got underway. Automatic promotion will be a push considering Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion, Derby County among others are all looking very strong.