Six things you might have missed after City's heavy loss to the champions
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As Norwich City's tough start to the season continues, David Freezer takes a look at six things you might have missed following the painful 5-0 defeat at Manchester City.
1 - Crucial context
Technically, this may well be the worst start to a season in City’s professional history – but we all know this is not as bad as losing 7-1 to Colchester in League One in 2009.
Take yourself back to that bleak Carrow Road collapse. Could you have imagined the title triumph and joy that would follow? It would have been a brave belief.
Losing to two top Champions League teams, amid plenty of pre-season context, just does not compare. It was a daunting start that has proved as painful as was feared.
It’s the first time the Canaries have lost back-to-back games at the start of a top-flight season since 1987-88 but that squad did only lose 1-0 to Everton and Southampton – and went on to finish 14th.
It’s the first time City haven’t scored in their opening two games since 2008, a low last experienced in the top tier in 1994, which included a goalless draw with Palace.
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2 - Streetwise streak
There’s no denying that a goal difference of minus-eight is concerning though, even if it was inflicted against two of the top teams in the world.
On Saturday the Canaries had just five touches in the Manchester City penalty area and one attempted shot at goal, as opposed to 46 touches for the hosts in the Norwich box, combined with 67pc of possession and 16 attempts at goal.
It was the first game of Daniel Farke’s reign that Norwich have managed just one attempt at goal.
Perhaps the most damning stat though was conceding just seven fouls to the Citizens’ 13, not picking up a single yellow card. That doesn’t scream defensive commitment and a desire to disrupt the impressive champions.
Pep Guardiola’s side are comfortable with conceding tactical fouls to thwart developing attacks, as shown by Joel Cancelo when he brought down Todd Cantwell in the 53rd minute just as the Canaries were enjoying a bit of possession.
3 - Taking the blows
Everton, Southampton, West Brom and Burnley all conceded five as they were thrashed by Guardiola’s expensively-assembled superstars last season. Only West Brom went down.
It may have been a painful experience, particularly as it repeated the final result of 2019-20, but can hardly be seen as surprising.
Norwich have spent around £50million so far this summer, by far the most spent in a transfer window in the club’s history. The man who scored the second on Saturday, Jack Grealish, was purchased for double that amount earlier this month.
Leeds were the Championship champions of 2020 and impressed greatly as they earned ninth place under Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League last season. Along the way, they conceded four or more in defeats to Manchester United (6-2), Liverpool (4-3), Arsenal (4-2), Leicester and Crystal Palace (4-1).
The Whites had the mental strength to bounce back and persevere with their plans.
4 - Rare sights
In the interests of moving on and shaking off this brutal start, let’s take a look at the few occasions Norwich did threaten Ederson’s goal.
The spell early in the second half before the third goal saw Max Aarons force the Brazilian to rush out and head clear from Milot Rashica, and Pierre Lees-Melou had scuffed a shot into Cantwell after good play from Rashica and Bali Mumba on the left.
Lees-Melou threaded a delightful pass through to Aarons and the right-back's cross deflected just past the far post off Ilkay Gundogan – just before City froze at the corner from which Aymeric Laporte made it 3-0 in the 64th minute.
Those signs of fight were thwarted but Josh Sargent came off the bench and won a loose ball after tenacious work from Billy Gilmour, only for Rashica to fire over when he should have squared to the unmarked American, who looks ready for a start.
5 - Changes made
Those early stages of the second half had raised hopes of the Canaries emerging with some respectability before defensive flaws were exploited ruthlessly again.
Farke had reacted angrily to a loss of possession and poor pass from Lukas Rupp towards the end of the first half and Dimitris Giannoulis was being over-run by Gabriel Jesus, not helped by minimal protection in front of him.
The German has often been accused of making his changes too late but reacted at the break as he brought on Mumba and Kenny McLean for Giannoulis and Rupp - but with the 4-3-3 formation retained, the hosts continued to overpower their newly-promoted opponents.
Striking the balance between defence and attack against the top teams is far from easy and while there were encouraging signs in the first half of the Liverpool game, City have not yet shown the defensive discipline and organisation that is required to survive at this level.
6 – Energetic effort
It may have faded into disappointment but Mumba’s seventh senior appearance for Norwich had started off impressively in the circumstances.
The 19-year-old replaced the overwhelmed Giannoulis at left-back and started an attack with a nice flick to Rashica, that ended with a lovely Gilmour free-kick just evading Ben Gibson.
He made a couple of crucial clearances and forced Jesus backwards but also saw the Brazil international fire just wide after beating him.
Tenacity saw Mumba beat Bernardo Silva on halfway but Rashica couldn’t take advantage with a charging run. He lost Silva for the fourth goal, as Raheem Sterling tapped in simply, and was culpable alongside Gibson in leaving Riyad Mahrez unmarked for the fifth.
There were some brutal defensive lessons against top players but there were also positive signs from the youngster on the big stage.
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