According to the Eastern Daily Press’ Paddy Davitt, beaten Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill was full of praise for the man who played a large part in handing his Potters a 3-2 defeat. That man was Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki who scored two of the Canaries goals in their recent encounter.

Top Championship marksman

That brace of goals took Finland international Pukki to 8 for the campaign with him featuring in just 10 of Norwich’s games since their demotion from the Premier League. At this rate, it looks like another goal-laden haul for the likeable striker to match his 29 goals in Norwich’s last Championship season.

O’Neill commented on this adding: “We played against probably the best striker in the league in Teemu Pukki and we struggled to deal with him. The quality of his movement, the quality of his finishing.

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Transfer bargain paying off

In a market where strikers are usually traded in £multi-million deals, it is somewhat refreshing to know that Pukki arrived at Carrow Road on a free transfer from Danish side Brondby in the summer of 2018.

His worth to Norwich City since arriving in Norfolk is clear to see. His 97 games for the club have seen him notch up 48 goals and 14 assists and this includes a respectable 11 goals and 3 assists in last season’s doomed Premier League campaign.

Norwich quality clear to see

Former Northern Ireland boss O’Neill was also quick to praise the Norwich side of which Pukki is such a lethal spearhead. Commenting directly on how Stoke were torn apart by a combination of Pukki and Emi Buendia, the Potters boss added:

We played against a very good team and you can see why they are at the top of the league. I thought in that first half Norwich were excellent. No doubt about that. We struggled with their movement, we struggled with their quality.”

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Onwards and upwards for O’Neill and Stoke

Stoke manager O’Neill knows that the Potters have to put the 3-2 loss to a Pukki-inspired Canaries behind them. They need to look forwards rather than backwards as they look to move upwards.

O’Neill added:

The most important thing we have to take is we have to be better in the opening part of a game. But give credit to the opposition. I believe they are the best team we have played this season.”

Stoke City’s next game is a trip to South Yorkshire to face Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday – a game Michael O’Neill will be hoping yields three points.

Will it be a successful or disappointing season for Michael O'Neill and Stoke City?

Successful.

They’ll do well.

Disappointing.

They’ll underperform.