Norwich City to be Premier League dark horses
After some great signings this summer - Norwich City look set to be the Premier League dark horses of 2013/14
The 2012/13 Premier League season was a dire campaign, in terms of drama and excitement, in regards to the chase for the title and the battle to avoid relegation.
However amid the end of season lull there were two teams that consolidated their top flight statuses with ease, exceeding all expectations.
West Brom and Swansea finished eighth and ninth respectively, proving to everyone that they can elude being 'yo-yo clubs'.
And now that the new season is just weeks away, could Norwich City follow in the footsteps of these two teams and become a top ten team?
Here are the reasons why I believe they can:
Thus far the Canaries have gone all out in the transfer market, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer undoubtedly being the stand out signings.
The former is a major coup - for £8.5 million Norwich are getting a powerful, clinical forward who scored 45 goals in 88 matches for Sporting Lisbon and is already a Netherlands international. Norwich struggled to identify their best striker last term so Chris Hughton will hope that the 24 year old can stabilize their strikeforce.
The latter was pursued by Everton for a long period in January 2013, so the signing of the versatile central midfielder is evidently very impressive. Fer scored twice in four appearances at the U21 European Championships this summer and 21 goals in his time at FC Twente, so expect him to have an impressive season.
Norwich have also bolstered their squad with signings from the Championship. Swedish full back Martin Olsson has joined from Blackburn, while Nathan Redmond signed from Birmingham.
These two players will enhance Norwich's flanks greatly - Olsson is predominantly a left back but is capable of playing in a more advanced left sided role.
Redmond, like Wilfried Zaha and Tom Ince, is tipped to be one of England's finest attacking assets in years to come and therefore should take no time in establishing himself as Norwich's first choice right midfielder.
The Yellows increased the depth in their squad when they agreed to make Javier Garrido's loan move to Carrow Road permanent as well as cementing a move for veteran 'keeper Carlo Nash on a free transfer.
Don't expect the Canaries spending to end there though; it's become clear recently that Norwich are keen to sign another striker to partner Van Wolfswinkel.
Fabio Quagliarella has also said to be a Norwich target and the East Anglian club are still being linked with a move for Celtic frontman Gary Hooper. Norwich had a bid of £5 million rejected from The Bhoys, making it unambiguous that he won't be allowed to leave on the cheap.
Sebastien Bassong was defensively very robust for Norwich last year and it appears that they want to sign a centre half to accompany the Cameroonian.
Norwich failed with an ambitious move for Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld last week as the player and the club failed to agree terms. The Canaries may renew their interest in the future, but Liverpool have been monitoring Alderweireld'd situation very closely for some time now, so they will have to move quickly.
Finally, Norwich continued with their raid of the Eredivise by trying to sign PSV's midfielder cum forward Ola Toivonen. Unfortunately Norwich were rebuffed by the Swede.
Norwich have been very efficient in clearing out the 'dead wood'. So far, 12 players have departed, most notably fans favourite Grant Holt and former teenage sensation James Vaughan. Freeing up this space in the squad will allow manager Hughton to spend more on wages for players like Quagliarella and Alderweireld.
In terms of players not leaving the club, Norwich have done very well here too. They managed to fend off interest in 'keeper John Ruddy from Chelsea who instead signed ex Fulham star Mark Schwarzer.
Norwich were in a precarious position in the final few weeks of last season's Premier League, but a run of three wins in five saw them comfortably evade relegation and finish 11th.
Wins over Reading (2-1), West Brom (a staggering 4-0 rout) and 2012's Champions Manchester City (3-2) would have certainly given everyone associated with Norwich a positive vibe.
If Norwich can extend this rich vein of form into pre-season, and given that they will inevitably invest further, then the Canaries will certainly be well equipped for the start of the Premier League season.
And with Chris Hughton's excellent guidance, Norwich can push on from there and replicate Swansea and West Brom's success last season.
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