Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 0-0 draw against Brighton
- Credit: PA
Paddy Davitt delivers his Brighton verdict after Norwich City's 0-0 Premier League stalemate.
1. Paying by instalments
Another clean sheet, another goalless draw. Another Premier League point. City have certainly met Daniel Farke’s challenge, post-Watford defeat, to tighten up.
Worth reiterating this was a Brighton side who had won four of their opening seven top flight games. But it still felt like half measures at the final whistle.
Norwich had chances on the counter, none bigger than Josh Sargent spurning the opportunity to roll a ball into an empty net, but Tim Krul also produced two top drawer reaction stops.
Neal Maupay should have also punished the hosts late on, when he chipped over the Norwich bar from close range.
In isolation, another solid performance with something to show for it. But given City’s tough start they have ground to make up.
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That elusive wait for a first Premier League win of the season goes on. With Chelsea up next at Stamford Bridge.
Which underlines perhaps in the final analysis this goes down as another missed opportunity to secure that great leap forward. Especially when you see the widening gaps, in terms of league points, between Norwich and the majority above them.
2. Oh Sarge
He may struggle to get some shuteye in the days ahead, but that open goal miss for Sargent felt like a huge moment in the game, and his early Norwich career.
Farke has spoken liberally about how the critics pointed to his less than prolific goalscoring record in Germany when he arrived in the summer. There was a League Cup deposit against Bournemouth, but a first Premier League goal would have really signalled his arrival.
He deserved it on the balance of a first half shift when there were real, encouraging signs of a developing understanding with Teemu Pukki that could finally add attacking punch and potency as much as honest toil.
But when Robert Sanchez went walkabout and then misjudged his clearance, Sargent had 20 yards and an open goal to pull the trigger.
The tameness of his low shot allowed a defender to clear. It was the snatched effort of a man desperate to open his account.
Pukki rolled him in again at the start of the second half but a heavy touch saw the chance go begging. Those questions and accusations will persist until he does start to weigh in.
NCFC Extra: Farke reaction to Norwich City 0-0 Brighton
3. Quicker, faster, sharper
On a broader point, that quest for productivity is not solely a challenge for Sargent. Norwich, as a unit, have now mustered two Pukki goals in eight league games. One of those from the penalty spot against Leicester.
That is not a ratio which ultimately will cash in on greater defensive resolution or keep Norwich in this division.
Farke spoke at length prior to the latest international pause about how adding those attacking embellishments will come from a solid base.
But with Christos Tzolis and Milot Rashica again on the bench, and the likes of Billy Gilmour, Kieran Dowell and the absent Todd Cantwell similarly seeing limited recent service, the City chief will have to keep ramming home those points.
Norwich’s shape or focus on defensive solidity was not the issue in this game.
They had chances, beyond Sargent’s headline miss, but there was a lack of decisiveness in thought and deed. The Premier League is an unforgiving environment, where it is fractions of a second between pulling the trigger or the gun remaining in the holster. City need to harness that collective mindset.
4. Suits you, Dimi
Dimitris Giannoulis was removed from the firing line after a chastening opening 45 minutes at Manchester City earlier this season.
Plenty felt that was harsh, but there is no doubt those defensive issues Farke highlighted against the champions have persisted since he arrived from PAOK.
But the change of defensive shape certainly appears to harness the Greek international’s spirit of adventure and his running power.
With that added insurance in behind offered by the presence of Ben Gibson, Giannoulis looks far more comfortable operating in advanced areas.
That natural balance and width he offers as a left footer was evident when he opened his body and simply helped a ball on for Kenny McLean to raid in the first half.
There was another adventurous dart infield that took him past three and set up a chance spurned by Mathias Normann. Worth also recording the defensive block on Jakub Moder early in the second half.
There may be some genuine concerns the current set up blunts Norwich’s attacking endeavours, but what is not in doubt is after Burnley and Brighton shutouts it is a better fit for a player with seemingly offers the pedigree and the natural athleticism you need to thrive in the Premier League.
5. Main man Mathias
Normann received a thunderous ovation as he hobbled to the touchline in the closing stages. The Norwegian’s all-action style, his combativeness, his range of passing and his general quality have already endeared him to his new fans.
One hopes that second half exit was precautionary. He already looks indispensable in the heart of the Canaries’ midfield.
But Farke still needs to work on the mix around him.
Pierre Lees-Melou and Kenny McLean have been his preferred partners in these past two goalless draws and with Gilmour ineligible to face his parent club next weekend, barring a gloomy fitness bulletin you would expect Farke to retain that trio against the Champions League winners.
Normann’s arrival was supposed to release Gilmour to put his measured imprint on City’s passing game further up the pitch. Asking him to break up play and operate as a defensive midfielder in those opening, difficult Premier League games was a tough ask.
But with Normann now a key figure, and Farke again in the build up to Brighton hailing the Scottish youngster’s natural talent, how he incorporates both in his starting line up in the weeks ahead is another intriguing facet that might unlock some of City’s attacking potential.