Norwich City 3 Newcastle United 1
Goals: Teemu Pukki (£6.7m) x3| Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m)
Assists: Todd Cantwell (£4.5m) x2| Sean Longstaff (£5.0m)
Bonus Points: Pukki x3 Cantwell x2 Longstaff x1
Norwich City put a sorry Newcastle United in their place with an emphatic 3-1 win illuminated by a hat-trick from striker Teemu Pukki (£6.7m).
The in-form Finland international, who also found the net in the Canaries’ Gameweek 1 loss at Liverpool, opened the scoring with a sweetly-hit volley in the first half before adding two more goals after the break.
His strike at Anfield had already earned him a sizeable new Fantasy following, with 176,308 transfers-in, and the Pukki train is now steaming ahead on the back of Saturday’s all-action display.
Well over 400,000 new owners have moved early to make him the most popular signing of Gameweek 3, even though Chelsea and Manchester City will be visiting over the next three fixtures.
That surge in ownership has also led to a second price rise in a week, but at £6.7m he still represents great value at the low end of the mid-priced striker market if he can build on his spectacular start to life in the Premier League.
His opener was an instinctive strike after the ball fell to him from a corner, while the two second-half goals showcased his skills as a finisher.
Pukki doubled Norwich’s lead when he cut back inside and fired past the excellent Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) from the edge of the area before he secured the hat-trick with a neat left-footed finish that rounded off a fine team goal.
Both of his strikes after the interval were set up by left-winger Todd Cantwell (£4.5m), who looks set for a run in the team following an injury to Onel Hernández (£5.5m).
The midfielder impressed in the 4-1 loss at Anfield, matching team-mate Emiliano Buendia‘s (£6.0m) output with three chances created, and he topped that list at Carrow Road with five key passes.
In an attack-minded team led by such an in-form striker, Cantwell has the potential to be one of Fantasy Premier League’s major midfield bargains.
Buendia, who produced an assist against Liverpool, was also a strong creative force against the Magpies and looks to be another solid route into Norwich’s attacking midfielders for managers with more cash to splash.
There is one major caveat to address when it comes to Pukki and Cantwell, however, as Newcastle were very poor indeed.
Even then, Steve Bruce’s side spurned two great chances to take the lead on Saturday.
Debutant Emil Krafth (£4.5m) blasted over the bar from the edge of the six
That summed up a wretched day for the 2.4%-owned forward, who was left horribly isolated as the lone frontman and ended up having fewer goal attempts (two) than wing-back Matt Ritchie (£5.5m).
Bruce confirmed the injury post-match.
“We don’t know (how serious it is) until he has scans or X-rays. He’s very sore in the dressing room at the moment. We’re a bit light in that department with the injuries we’ve picked up in that department. We just have to see,
hopefully, it’s not too bad.” – Steve Bruce
Joelinton is now an early doubt for Gameweek 3’s trip to Tottenham, further reducing the attacking appeal of a side that has mustered just five shots on target from their first two matches of the season.
Any hopes that Miguel Almiron (£6.0m) might offer some out of position joy operating as a foil to the forward in a 3-5-2 formation were dashed by an ineffective display from the Paraguayan midfielder.
Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m) at least managed a consolation goal for the Magpies deep into time added on at the end of the game, a strike set up by substitute Sean Longstaff (£5.0m).
But the main Fantasy impact of that was the denial of clean sheet returns for the few managers with Norwich defenders in their sides.
Bruce was understandably downbeat following his team’s capitulation.
“We didn’t do enough with it or without it (the ball). We had a couple of wonderful chances that might have given us a spark. But you have to take one of those chances. At this level, two blatant chances, one might have given us a lift. But make no mistake. It won’t mask over it. We didn’t do enough.” – Steve Bruce
He also shed light on the omission of Longstaff from the starting XI.
“I am trying to protect the lad. He has had a wonderful rise, we have to protect him as he had a serious injury.” – Steve Bruce
Bruce’s response to the defeat was to haul his players in for Sunday training, but it’s going to take a whole heap of hard work to arrest Newcastle’s slide, particularly with a fixture list that includes trips to Spurs and Liverpool over the next three Gameweeks.
As for Norwich, head coach Daniel Farke was quick to praise Pukki.
“It was a great performance from Teemu. Not only his goals but his workload and how he is able to link the play.” – Daniel Farke
He also provided an update on Jamal Lewis (£4.5m) who had to be replaced by Sam Byram (£4.5m) in stoppage time.
“(Jamal Lewis) over-stretched. Got a touch a cramp. So no risks. He is fine.” – Daniel Farke
Farke also highlighted home advantage as a major factor in the result.
“First home game in the Premier League. First at Carrow Road after a terrific last season. To be there with such a great result, Carrow Road was rocking, buzzing. A special afternoon.” – Daniel Farke
With five goals conceded in just two matches, albeit one of those a tricky trip to Anfield, defensive returns from Norwich players are likely to remain patchy at best.
But Farke is committed to attacking football and the goal threat of Pukki is there for all to see, especially at home, where form could well trump fixtures – even with the likes of Man City to come in the near future.
Cantwell and Buendia can also flourish as his providers, making Norwich assets some of the most attractively priced in FPL right now.
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Krul; Lewis (Byram 90′), Godfrey, Hanley, Aarons; Leitner, Trybull (Tettey 87′); Cantwell, Stiepermann (Vrancic 84′)
Newcastle United XI (3-5-2): Dúbravka; Dummett, Lascelles, Schär; Ritchie, Ki (S Longstaff 74′), Shelvey, Hayden, Krafth; Joelinton (Muto 67′), Almirón.
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