Breaking: Norwich City return to Premier League

Norwich City have won promotion to the Premier League for a fifth time, after Brentford and Swansea’s failure to win ensured Daniel Farke’s side could not be caught in the automatic places.

The Canaries make an instant return to top flight following relegation to the Championship in the 2019-20 season.

Only Watford, eight points behind, can now deny them the second-tier title for a third time.

It is the earliest they have secured promotion since their first in 2004.

Saturday evening’s game against Bournemouth can edge them closer to securing the title with four games remaining after that.

Norwich lost 13 of their last 15 Premier League games last season as they returned to the Championship after just one season in the top flight.

But while most relegated sides struggle to turn around a losing mentality in the following campaign, the Canaries stayed calm and kept faith with head coach Daniel Farke and the nucleus of the squad which took them up the previous season.

They gained just four points from their opening four games but moved to the top of the table with victory at Middlesbrough in late November, 12 games in, and hardly looked back.

Norwich’s previous promotion was done in swashbuckling style, scoring an incredible 31 of their 93 league goals after the 75th minute, though a defence conceding 57 goals in the Championship would prove not to be fit for purpose at the highest level.

One key difference between Norwich’s last promotion under Farke is the balance between attack and defence.

The German has tweaked their tactics, opting for a more miserly approach – with just 28 let in while scoring 65 at the other end.

They still have finishing power, as Teemu Pukki’s 25 in 37 league appearances suggest and playmaker Emi Buendia has continued to dazzle, but the 18 league clean sheets for Tim Krul are equally important to their achievements.

Gone are the 4-3 basketball games, replaced by more measured 1-0 or 2-1 victories – the defence, led by Grant Hanley and Max Aarons, have been watertight while Pukki, Buendia, Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell have still been given the licence to thrill in attack, as their 7-0 mauling of Huddersfield showed earlier this month.

The off-field strategy, moulded by sporting director Stuart Webber and Farke, will not change.

Norwich will not throw silly money at new players and will continue to look for unheralded bargains across Europe, but they have built a wealth of experience on and off the field as they bid to build upon their fifth promotion to the Premier League and attempt to establish themselves in the top flight.

Farke’s side have already matched the 27 wins achieved in their title successes and passing 100 points for the first time is still a possibility.

Reading’s 106-point success cannot be overhauled, but their 31 wins can be if Norwich end the campaign with a perfect five from five finish.

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