Teemu Pukki arrived at Carrow Road amid very little fanfare in July 2018. Signed on a free from Danish side Brondby, very little was expected of the 29-year old when he pitched up in East Anglia. Pukki himself admits that Norwich wasn’t his first choice destination, however, the pair appear to be a perfect match, and it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship so far.
No player has been directly involved in more goals in the Premier League this season than Teemu Pukki.
6 goals. 2 assists. 1 non-stop party. pic.twitter.com/qxF6FcdYDB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 14, 2019
Underwhelming Spell in Scotland
Outside of his recent exploits in the Premier League, Pukki is perhaps best-known for his barren spell at Parkhead six years ago. The striker managed just nine goals in 37 appearances for Celtic, and has since admitted that Scottish football was much tougher than he’d imagined. Towards the end of his time in Glasgow, he found himself restricted to appearances from the bench and was only able to complete a full ninety minutes in the SPL on two occasions.
Jonathon Walters believes that Celtic ‘weren’t a good fit’ for Pukki, with the Finn struggling to find form under Neil Lennon. He also failed to find the net in the UEFA Champions League, despite playing five times in the group stage of the competition.
Successful Season in the Championship
After netting 72 times for Brondby, Pukki arrived in England in good goalscoring form and he hit the ground running almost immediately. Despite failing to register in the Canaries opening day 2-2 draw with Birmingham, he was soon up and running, hitting the target in the club’s 4-3 home defeat to West Brom on August 11th, 2018. He also found the target in the first round of the Carabao Cup just three days later.
Overall, Pukki scored 29 times in 43 appearances in the second tier, helping Daniel Farke’s side secure an unexpected promotion to the Premier League. Despite those impressive statistics, the Finn was unable to net a hat-trick during the course of the season, and doubled up on just six occasions. However, he was the epitome of consistency and never went more than four games without getting on the scoresheet.
Adapting to Life in the Premier League
As the excitement began to grow ahead of the 2019-2020 Premier League season, there were understandably a number of questions surrounding Norwich’s ability to acclimatize to life in the top tier, with some even suggesting that they may need to tighten up at the back and change their style in order to avoid the drop. However, Daniel Farke has stuck to his principles, and it appears to being paying dividends.
Despite being endorsed by fellow Scandinavian Zlatan Ibrahimovic, some pundits were quick to dismiss Pukki, suggesting that he may struggle to adapt to the rigors of the top flight. However, they were soon to be proved wrong. The former Schalke striker has netted six times in his first five Premier League appearances, including a well-taken hat-trick against Newcastle and a goal and an assist in the loss to Chelsea. He scored and also missed a good opportunity to extend his side’s lead against Manchester City in the 3-2 win.
At the time of writing, he sits behind both Sergio Aguero and Tammy Abraham in the Premier League goalscoring charts, although with games against Crystal Palace and fellow newcomers Aston Villa on the horizon, he’ll be feeling confident that he can continue his productive spell in front of goal. As of September 19th, the forward is 20/1 with Betway to finish as the season’s top goalscorer, and is the same price as more established performers such as Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy.
His goalscoring hasn’t just been restricted to the Premier League, with Pukki also hitting the target twice for Finland at the beginning of September. He boasts an impressive record of having netted in each of his last four appearances for his country.
The Numbers Behind Pukki’s Blistering Form
The Finn hasn’t had to change his style of play in order to succeed in the top flight. Last season, he averaged 3.3 shots per match, with that number staying fairly constant despite the obvious step up in quality. According to understat.com, his xG figures are impressive, and at 2.69, there are only six players returning better numbers than the Norwich striker so far this season.
8 – Teemu Pukki has scored with his first shot on target in each of the last eight league seasons (across Schalke 04, Celtic, Brøndby IF & Norwich City careers); a record stretching back to the start of 2012-13. Finnish. pic.twitter.com/CnCtWoM23X
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 9, 2019
Sixteen of his seventeen shots so far this campaign have come from inside the penalty area, with all six of his goals being plundered from less than twelve yards out. He’s an instinctive finisher, who is able to score goals with both feet, and he is a constant threat in the final third.
There is still a long way to go, and a plethora of previously promoted sides have begun the season brightly before suffering a post-Christmas decline. With Teemu Pukki in electric form, the Canaries are likely to pull off plenty more surprises in the top flight this year, and the experienced striker has certainly enhanced his reputation over the last couple of years. It remains to be seen whether the Finnish international can continue his fantastic goalscoring form throughout the remainder of the season although Norwich fans will be hoping that the 29-year old can continue to defy his critics and help fire Farke’s men to Premier League safety.