Six things you might have missed from City's FA Cup victory over Coventry
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Following a rare Carrow Road success in the FA Cup, David Freezer takes a look at six things you might have missed after Norwich City's 2-0 win over Coventry.
1 - Home drought ends
Quite remarkably, this victory was the first FA Cup success at Carrow Road in nine years, since Paul Lambert’s squad thrashed Burnley 4-1 in the third round in 2012.
The eight home FA Cup ties since that day had brought five defeats, including the shock to then non-league Luton as a top-flight team in 2013 and losing to Leicester (2012) and Portsmouth (2019) when they were lower-level opposition as well.
In fairness, the other two defeats were to Manchester City (2016) and to Manchester United in the quarter-finals last season, while Premier League opposition were taken to a replay during the draws with Southampton (2017) and Chelsea (2018) when City were in the Championship.
What’s more, it was a reasonably comfortable 2-0 win, which really should have been 3-0 with Teemu Pukki hitting the post late on and McLean somehow missing a great chance in injury-time after busting a gut to get on the end of an Emi Buendia pass.
2 - Unfamiliar feeling
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Adding to the novelty value on Saturday was the Canaries taking control of the tie so soon, enjoying a two-goal lead at half-time for the first time since April 2019, when they were 3-0 up against QPR in an eventual 4-0 victory.
It was more conspicuous than that though. According to the ever-reliable @NCFCnumbers on Twitter, it was the quickest City have been 2-0 up in a game in more than 18 years, since Paul McVeigh and Phil Mulryne scored both of the goals in a 2-0 win at Reading in 2002 inside the opening six minutes.
When you add that 12 of the 14 league wins this season have been by a delicate one-goal margin and that - despite impressively leading the Championship by four points at the halfway point - Farke’s squad have led at the break in just six of their 23 games, then it felt almost disconcerting to have the comfort of a 2-0 lead at half-time.
3 - Return of Przemek
Like most of the players returning from injury Przemek Placheta rather ran out of steam as the game progressed but the winger wasted little time in making an impact.
The 22-year-old summer signing played a key role in both goals, driving infield from the left wing before Todd Cantwell found Kenny McLean for the opener and crossing for Jordan Hugill to head City 2-0 up barely a minute later.
The classy stepovers and burst of pace beat Leo Ostigard and a very slight deflection didn’t matter, with Hugill making a classing centre-forward’s run to the near post to head past Ben Wilson from close range.
Placheta boosted his profile with two caps for Poland in November but this was his first assist in 16 games, although he has also won two penalties. A good platform for him to build from as he chases fitness, knowing a similar player is also back in the mix in Onel Hernandez.
4 - Isolated Hugill
Hugill’s header was his first Carrow Road goal for City, taken well as the big striker got the sort of service he craves from Placheta’s cross.
However, according to stats website WhoScored, the summer signing from West Ham only got eight touches of the ball against Coventry.
The visitors deployed a three-man defence and while the 28-year-old did keep them busy before being replaced by Pukki in the 72nd minute, the same website shows just seven crosses were attempted.
It’s not the first time this season that we’ve seen the former Preston man favourite feeding off scraps. He is a different type of player to Pukki, that is clear, but the Canaries don’t appear to be adjusting to his strengths.
Hugill will be pleased to be up and running again though, after his shoulder injury in November, scoring his second goal in 18 games, six of which have been starts.
5 - Motivated McLean
Were it not for the impressive work of youngster Daniel Barden in goal, Kenny McLean would almost certainly have been named Man of the Match.
He not only calmly slotted his second goal of the season to open the scoring, after being found by Placheta and Cantwell, but he had started that move as well.
While it was the Scot – who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday – who had picked out Placheta with a sharp pass to the left ahead of the second goal as well.
There was a worrying moment early in the second half when he needed treatment after his right foot took the brunt of a challenge, with his knee injury still fresh in the memory – and he unwisely took out his frustration on referee Darren Drysdale with some choice language, eventually earning a booking for his protests about a free-kick given against Bali Mumba.
But from sweeping up at the back, to buzzing around in attack and so nearly getting the third in injury-time, the prospect of another promotion party followed by a European Championship campaign with Scotland clearly has ‘the mayor’ fired up.
6 - Sorensen’s chance
Jacob Sorensen finally had his chance to show what he could do in central midfield, after persevering admirably at left-back for 16 games since October.
The 22-year-old showed a few promising moments, with some sharp passing in the first half and getting involved further forward to almost take City’s formation to a 4-1-4-1 at times.
However, his positioning looked a bit rusty at times, perhaps partly after having to focus on playing at left-back for so long and partly due to being alongside Alex Tettey – who executed the best moment of the game with an exquisite pirouette on the ball in midfield.
It’s that defensive anchor position that Sorensen has his eyes on long term and the summer signing didn’t always look comfortable, receiving regular orders from Farke as Coventry turned the second half into a scrap.
It was a helpful game but after a rusty first game back for Xavi Quintilla, it won’t be surprising if Sorensen is still at left-back against a physical Cardiff side on Saturday.