Matt Howman: It’s becoming harder to mount a case for City’s defence
PUBLISHED: 13:31 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:31 10 December 2019
Coming into the season us fans knew we were in for a tough ride.
There were always going to be spells where we would have to dig in and accept three defeats on the bounce, potentially go a month without a win and maybe find ourselves on the wrong side of a few big score lines from the top teams.
It's all part of being a newly promoted team that largely keeps the same squad that took them up into the next division.
Despite all of that, there was still a lot of optimism that we could do rather well. And why not? The squad were exceptional last season. Daniel Farke introduced youth with talent, momentum and ambition. There was a lot of excitement that our football would translate well into the top division.
However, almost half way through the season, sadly the picture is currently looking very bleak.
Points wise, it's not a disaster. Considering our goal difference, we are currently five points from safety and still a full half of the season to play.
However, there has all too often been short spells in numerous games where we have thrown away all the hard work and endeavour through basic errors and lost crucial matches against the teams directly around us, a recurring theme and one which Farke hasn't yet managed to fix.
Sunday's game was disappointing because we were at home, 1-0 up at half-time and against a well organised Sheffield United side. To stay up in this division you have to be able to convert those positions into three points, especially at your home ground.
The major problem though, has been the collective of games against Southampton, Watford, Brighton, Burnley and Aston Villa, to name a few.
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All of the aforementioned games were against teams who are likely to be our direct competition for survival come the end of the season; scored two, conceded thirteen.
So where is it all going wrong?
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City's defence against Everton and Arsenal looked much more solid with the return of Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram retaining his place at left-back. After the early injury-hit start to our season we travelled to Southampton with a much more familiar backline and two solid results under our belts.
Forty-five minutes of football later and it felt like watching a completely different side. Tactically we were all over the place, the squad looked nervous against the press, unable to keep possession… it was awful.
Second-half was much better but the first 45 minutes were an extended period of what has occurred in nearly every game this season in short five-to-ten minute spells, which is costing us three points all too often.
The goals we are conceding are so damaging to the team. Norwich haven't chalked up a win from a losing position and when we concede one goal, the opposition know how to capitalise and another is soon to follow.
On the attacking side, Farke's style is being counteracted too well by the opposition. Without the 60-70pc possession we were used to in the Championship, Norwich struggle to control and dictate the game in the same manner and when we do have the ball, the players aren't able to be as effective in creating clear-cut chances.
Teams are looking to isolate Pukki and force us out wide, we refuse to cross the ball (ranked 20th) and we are one of the highest ranked clubs for being dispossessed, which is where our team are failing to cope with a much more intense press.
My January transfer wish is for the club to go into the market for another full-back and ideally a centre-back. Goals are being conceded from aerial duels in open play, from corners and set-pieces and it's absolutely imperative we tighten up at the back to stand any chance of survival.
Norwich can find a way to score, we have the talent across the pitch and I still believe Farke is the man for our club, but without a better defence sadly I fear the writing is already on the wall for survival.