How Sunderland’s Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts are viewed at Norwich City ahead of Carrow Road return
Sunderland are preparing to face Norwich City at Carrow Road – but what can they expect from David Wagner’s side?
The Canaries have won their last three matches to move up to sixth in the Championship table following last weekend’s 3-2 win at Millwall.
To find out more, we caught up with Connor Southwell from the Norwich Evening News on the latest episode of The Roar podcast.
What is the mood like at Norwich?
CS: “It’s really positive and since David Wagner came in in January only Middlesbrough and Burnley have taken more points than Norwich.
“We are still trying to work out whether this is a managerial bounce or whether it can be something a bit more sustained.
“The performance levels suggest it can be something that is a bit more sustained and with the quality they have in their group I think it’s something a lot of people have been expecting this season."
What system will they play?
CS: “I think it can vary between a 4-2-3-1, sometimes it’s a 4-1-4-1 but it can also be like a 4-4-2 at times in possession.
“He likes to get his full-backs high and can drop Kenny McClean, who has been playing in a deeper midfield role, between the centre-backs, so they almost create a back three at times to push the full-backs on.
“It feels like they have a lot of players in attacking areas.”
Who are their key players?
CS: “Gabriel Sara has really come on in the last few weeks. They signed him from Brazil in the summer for, you’ll hear price tags of £10million but it was probably more like £6million which is still quite a lot for the Championship.
“He came to Norwich injured, didn’t learn the language and we’ve seen sort of slow quiet improvement from him.
“I would say since David Wagner has taken over he has just skyrocketed in terms of performances, he’s kind of playing him kind of as an eight or a box-to-box player.
“Onel Hernandez is another who has struggled for consistency during his time at Norwich but under David Wagner he’s got five assists, including for an own goal last week.”
“Teemu Pukki hasn’t scored for a little while but is always a threat on the pitch and creates space for people even if he isn’t scoring goals."
How are Sunderland duo Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts remembered there?
CS: “I would say Alex Pritchard when he signed I think there was a lot of excitement and he did well by all accounts, playing for Norwich at a difficult time when Wes Hoolahan was still there and they had a lot of creative players.
“He did impress when he played but I think there was a lot of disappointment in how he left the club because it was in Daniel Farke’s first season and he actually got quite a bad knee injury in the summer so was ruled out until January.
“He came back and began to impress, Daniel Farke liked him, and he then decided he wanted to move on and wanted a Premier League challenge with Huddersfield.
“Patrick Roberts is not so popular. I think he was quite outspoken about how his time didn’t go particularly well here and I could see him maybe getting the focus of the Norwich fans.”