Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 1-0 defeat against Arsenal
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Paddy Davitt delivers his Arsenal verdict after Norwich City's 1-0 Premier League defeat.
Daniel Farke made a beeline for Michael Oliver on the final whistle. The television pictures suggested he wanted an explanation why Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang's winner stood.
Despite the protests of the away players, the video assistants upheld the onfield call. The City boss confirmed afterwards his players felt Bukayo Saka handled in the build up as he turned away from Grant Hanley. While VAR checked for a potential offside.
Farke appeared to accept the on field explanation. Not that he could do anything about it. But to lose this game in that manner will irk.
A City line up showing four changes had to survive an early barrage from Mikel Arteta’s team but thereafter were more than a match for the rest of the opening period.
But Farke would have wanted more himself after the interval. Norwich appeared to tire, Arsenal poured forward and there was a sense of inevitability about the goal when it did arrive.
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But bar a brief stoppage time salvo or two from set pieces, Norwich never really threatened to probe for any underlying vulnerability.
Much like Leicester in the previous home game, there was plenty to admire but another game slips by without any points on the board.
Surely only Farke and his inner circle could have predicted the Norwich line up that dropped an hour before kick off.
Ben Gibson out, Andrew Omobamidele in. Billy Gilmour out, Lukas Rupp in. Todd Cantwell out, Kieran Dowell in. Milot Rashica out, Christos Tzolis in.
From back to front, a series of eyebrow raising calls that perhaps reflected the workload on Farke’s international contingent but also once again underlined he is prepared to think outside the box.
Certainly Omobamidele did not look out of place on this grandest of stages. The young Irish international carried on in the same composed fashion as his recent appearances for his country.
With Gibson on the sidelines, and new boy Ozan Kabak alongside him, Omobamidele furthered his case for a leading role.
Tzolis also showed enough in flashes he can carry the potent threat Farke needs to find in the final third. Even a midfield trio of Rupp, Kenny McLean and Pierre Lees-Melou gelled perhaps in a more cohesive fashion than many Norwich fans may have expected.
The result eluded them but Farke may take more positives than negatives from this shuffle of his pack.
3. Coming of age
The Manchester United loanee turned 21 over the recent international break. Given he has already clocked up more than 50 senior appearances for the Red Devils that underlines his accelerated rate of progress.
Williams would not have been trusted so much at Old Trafford, before Luke Shaw’s re-emergence last season for club and country, if he was not a fast learner.
There was a costly turnover for Leicester City’s opening goal at Carrow Road prior to the break.
But this was a display up against the expensively acquired Nicolas Pepe full of promise.
Bar the events that led to Arsenal’s winner, when first he was unable to prevent Pepe’s shot and then his last-ditch attempt at a clearance saw the ball squirm towards Aubameyang.
An earlier close range block on Pepe in the second half saved a goal.
He also found the energy and the desire to supplement Tzolis in an attacking sense.
Farke needs a left back who can offer both at this level. Dimitris Giannoulis will be keen to prove when he is fit again he is able to answer those questions around his defensive nous, but Williams in this form will take some shifting.
Given Rashica was named City’s player-of-the-month for August it would be premature in the extreme to predict he now will defer to Tzolis. But there is certainly the makings of a corking selection battle on the left of City’s midfield mix.
Tzolis was irresistible on his debut in the League Cup against inferior opposition. He was also deemed that crucial to Greece’s World Cup hopes he joined up with his country despite the calf issue that ruled him out against the Foxes.
A decision that reaped rewards with his match-sealing cameo in a big win over Sweden.
Farke admitted on Friday he was holding his breath for the safe return of his 19-year-old, who he rates potentially as world class. Now we know why.
Tzolis was thrust into the line up for his Premier League debut. There was enough in his pace and directness to whet the appetite before he inevitably tired and was replaced by Rashica.
The former Werder Bremen attacker’s own gruelling international spell for Kosovo may have tipped the balance on this occasion. But Farke appears to have two enviable attacking options.
5. Watford (home)
A stretch to state the season starts from here after no points from the opening four Premier League tussles.
But a team who followed Norwich out of the Championship at Carrow Road, who have not picked up a point themselves since the opening weekend, is an opportunity to grasp.
Farke will be thankful of a full week to prepare and fully integrate the likes of Mathias Normann and Kabak into his plans. Both were on the bench but lacked the training time and, in Kabak’s case, the competitive minutes to be under consideration at the Emirates.
With the likes of Omobamidele and Tzolis getting their first experience of the English top flight, the City chief must find the right blend to not only be robust without the ball against the Hornets, but crucially add that attacking edge which was again elusive for the most part in north London.