17th August 2019. A date that Teemu Pukki will likely not forget in a hurry. The date on which he rifled home three goals, completing his first Premier League hat-trick, and becoming the first Norwich City player to achieve the feat in the Premier League since Efan Ekoku in 1993 – years before some of his teammates were even born.
At the age of 29, Pukki is no spring chicken, he isn’t a young star that top teams will be looking to snap up and groom for the future. In fact, he moved to Norwich last season on a free transfer, after previously struggling when given chances to make it at both Schalke and Celtic.
There were no high expectations when he arrived in the Championship, however by the end of the campaign the Canaries were champions and Pukki was named player of the season. He scored 29 goals in 43 Championship games, the highest tally registered in the Championship for 5 years.
His ability to keep up with the Premier League was a huge question mark coming into this season. Following his struggles at Celtic, many fans wondered whether he would become something of a ‘Dwight Gayle’ – a real top tier striker in the Championship, but just couldn’t quite make the leap to the big time. So far, Teemu Pukki is proving that Premier League defences are just as easy for him to split open as those of the Championship.
We’re only two games into this new season, however Pukki has already registered four league goals. A lot could change between now and the end of the year, but it’s a sparkling start for the Finn and it has drawn in the attention of clubs up and down the Premier League.
Teemu Pukki off the mark
He isn’t easy to stop, just ask Newcastle United. Even given half a chance, Pukki is able to find the back of the net. Just look at his first goal against Newcastle for an example. The ball is whipped in from the right, and he catches it on the volley, smashing it towards Dubravka’s near post and not giving the Newcastle stopper a chance. He is absolutely clinical, and that’s exactly what you need to be to make it at the top level of English football.
It could be a tough year for Norwich in the league this season, a vast number of pundits predicted that they would be one of the three teams heading down to the Championship at the end of the year, however having Pukki in this kind of form up front gives them a real fighting chance at survival. The biggest challenge they’re going to face going forwards, is keeping their star man.
If they get sent back to the Championship at the end of this season, I would be amazed to see Pukki their for the first game of the new campaign. Clubs will start to swoop and he’ll be one of the first players picked up at a discount.
He may be turning 30 this season, but I can see him playing a very similar role to Dimitar Berbatov in his later years. Give him the ball anywhere around the box and he’ll find a way to put it into the back of the net. He would be a great signing for clubs like Crystal Palace, Burnley or Brighton.
It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up this blistering run of form, especially into the tough run of games that the Canaries now face. Taking on Chelsea, West Ham and Manchester City in their next three league games. If he can come out of that stretch with one or two goals, he could be on pace for a 15+ goal season, following in the footsteps of Grant Holt perhaps?
It could be time for Premier League defences to wake up and take serious note of Teemu Pukki, because if they don’t, he will punish them.
Well done Newcastle.