Throughout the second half of the 2018/19 season, millwallfc.co.uk will be analysing The Lions' opponents by taking a look back at their campaign so far. As The Lions prepare for League leaders Norwich City's visit to The Den, we look at The Canaries’ recent results.
A 14th-place finish for Norwich City in Daniel Farke’s debut season gave the club a foundation to push for plenty more this campaign. The German looked to make serious reinforcements in the summer transfer window, particularly with significant funds raised by the sales of James Maddison and Josh Murphy to Premier League clubs. In came the likes of Moritz Leitner, Emi Buendia and now-Millwall man Ben Marshall, alongside free transfers Teemu Pukki and Tim Krul. Eight pre-season fixtures provided a test for The Canaries – three of those as part of a training camp in Farke’s homeland. Victories over King’s Lynn Town, Lincoln City and Crawley Town began the schedule, before the German trip included a win against Paderborn, a draw with Wolfsburg and a defeat to Union Berlin. A win over Luton Town and a loss at Charlton Athletic completed pre-season.
August would be a month in which Norwich failed to burst from the traps, but in hindsight were able to learn from their slow start and vastly improve their form ever since. An opening weekend 2-2 draw at Birmingham City – salvaging a point in the final seconds – got The Canaries on the board early on, before dramatic defeats to rivals West Bromwich Albion (4-3) and Sheffield United (2-1) to send the side 21st in The Championship. Sandwiched between, however, was the silver lining of a Carabao Cup First Round win at home to Stevenage, before going on to register a first League win at the fourth attempt over Preston North End by a two-goal margin. Farke’s side suffered what would prove to be their final defeat until October when Leeds United won 3-0 at Carrow Road, before recovering to sweep aside top-flight Cardiff City in South Wales by three goals to one, again advancing in the Carabao Cup. Norwich ended August in 17th.
September contained six matches for Norwich to steer themselves onto the right track, and Farke’s side certainly were not to disappoint as the team picked up five wins (four in the League) to rise all the way into the Play-Off positions. The month began with the first East Anglia derby of the season, as The Canaries made the short trip to face rivals Ipswich Town at Portman Road. Norwich equalised in the second half to take home a 1-1 draw going into the international break, after which they began to hit some serious form. The team developed a crucial knack of winning games by the odd goal, which they managed in all five of their September wins starting with a 1-0 success over Middlesbrough. The Canaries then took a 2-1 win from Reading and a solitary goal at QPR, before a Jordan Rhodes hat-trick contributed to a 4-3 thriller in Farke’s favour at Wycombe Wanderers to advance to the Carabao Cup Fourth Round. A 1-0 home win over Wigan Athletic rounded off a successful September with the team in fifth position.
October’s five League games gave Farke the opportunity to continue their upward curve, although the side were to concede a late leveller at Pride Park against Derby County. The Canaries then suffered a brief stutter with their third home defeat of the season, as Stoke City grabbed a 1-0 win at Carrow Road. Norwich were back to the best soon after, however, continuing their remarkable sole-goal habit with wins at Nottingham Forest (2-1) as well as home successes against Aston Villa (2-1) and Brentford (1-0). Despite a valiant effort at Premier League AFC Bournemouth in the Fourth Round of the Carabao Cup, Farke’s men bowed out with a 2-1 defeat to Eddie Howe’s Cherries. The Canaries sat a promising fourth going into November.
With just four Championship games in November, points were harder to come by for the teams competing in the division. This was not to be the case for The Canaries, however, who fired 12 goals in just three matches to burst to the top of the League. The slow start to the season was merely a distant memory as Norwich firstly thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 at Hillsborough, a result which lifted the side into the automatic promotion places. The ambition of the fans in Norfolk to reach the summit was granted on a crazy day at Carrow Road as Farke met Neil Harris to take on his Millwall outfit. Tom Elliott’s header gave The Lions what many considered to be a surprise lead at half-time, before top marksman Pukki equalised after the interval. Ben Amos kept out the Finland striker’s penalty soon after, though fellow summer signing Leitner struck from range to give Norwich the lead with 11 minutes to go. A mad end to proceedings followed, as Ryan Leonard and Jed Wallace struck to turn the game in The Lions’ favour once more, before Rhodes and Pukki found the net in stoppage time to somehow hand the three points the hosts’ way in a 4-3 scoreline. With Norwich now top of the pile, the team remarkably swept aside Swansea City 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium before finishing the month with a goalless draw at Hull City.
Going into a busy December in top spot, the pressure was now on Farke’s side to maintain their devastating standards set throughout the previous weeks. Finding the net again proved to be the key for Norwich, who scored 15 times in December’s six League games – conversely, the team were also to ship 11 goals. Beginning the month on a positive note, The Canaries took maximum points at home to Rotherham United (3-1) and Bolton Wanderers (3-2) – the latter of which producing another thrilling end with two stoppage-time goals. A 2-2 draw at Bristol City was however to knock the team from their perch, failing to return top despite a 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers. Boxing Day served up another unbelievable 90 minutes involving Norwich, who suffered a shock 3-0 deficit at Carrow Road at the hands of Nottingham Forest, recovering with three goals in the final 13 minutes to take a point from the clash. And, mesmerisingly, it was not to stop there – three days later, Derby took a 4-3 win from East Anglia after trailing 3-2 entering the final embers of the game. Norwich fans were to be forgiven for needing a breath or two as the team entered 2019 in second place.
The demanding schedule was not about to slow down despite Norwich’s spectacularly entertaining December, and The Canaries began the New Year by hitting a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at Brentford. The Emirates FA Cup was next up, as Norwich both entered and surprisingly exited at the Third Round stage with a dramatic last-minute home defeat to League One Portsmouth. Another late leveller secured a point in a tricky trip to West Brom upon the team’s League return, before an excellent first-half display against Birmingham City brought Farke’s men back to winning ways with a 3-1 scoreline. A 2-2 home draw with fellow promotion challengers Sheffield United ended January, with several squad players departing the club on loan deals in the winter window.
February was to be another month of League progress for Norwich. A classy display at Elland Road to beat Leeds 3-1 leapfrogged the Yorkshiremen and sent Norwich back to the top, followed by a convincing 3-0 derby victory over Ipswich at Carrow Road. A blip at Deepdale against in-form Preston saw a 3-1 loss – the sole defeat of the month for Farke’s side – before the team recovered by routing Bolton 4-0 at the Macron Stadium, with Pukki scoring his eighth in just six games. Norwich’s last outing saw them crucially come from behind against Play-Off-hunting Bristol City at Carrow Road, winning the contest 3-2 to remain the leaders upon their visit to The Den.