Home hope, deserved luck and reasons to smile - Six things learned from City's victory over the Villa
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
After seeing Norwich City rediscover some form during their 3-1 home win over high-flying Aston Villa, David Freezer assesses the key talking points ahead of the Canaries' trip to Sunderland.
1 – Reasons to smile were so needed
For all the worried talk and frustrated moaning of the previous week, Josh Murphy reminded us all that football is a simple game.
Popping up on the right wing before managing to unleash a brilliant goal-of-the-season contender not only sent City on their way to a needed victory but gave the Carrow Road faithful something good to talk about.
Murphy’s 25-yard screamer was awesome, with the added satisfaction of hitting the back of the net via a clip of the far post – to send the hosts into half-time 1-0 ahead.
For all the talk of a season of transition and annoyance that the campaign is already over competitively for City, it was a moment of pure joy.
Notch a few more wins in this style and fans can start to look forward to the future.
2 – Grumbles ignored as Josh continues to mature
Murphy has spoken openly about feeling frustrated at a struggle for consistency as a regular starter for City this season – but he is clearly learning from that annoyance.
Once again there were moans and groans aimed at the academy product’s hesitancy and decision making during the first half against Villa, in particular a poor cross towards Dennis Srbeny.
Murphy has heard those groans before, aimed at twin brother Jacob and fellow winger Nathan Redmond – and appears to have learned to ignore that frustration.
His goal was brilliant and 10 for the season shows just how much ability he has.
Kicking on from there and dismantling Villa hinted that Josh is starting to fulfil that exciting potential.
3 – The recovery continues at Carrow Road
Slowly but surely home form is starting to improve.
The Canaries have won three and drawn three of their last seven games at Carrow Road, with the only defeat coming on Good Friday to a Fulham team who are absolutely flying and unbeaten in 19.
The opening 14 home league games had seen City beaten five times on their own turf, collecting just 17 points from a possible 42.
Daniel Farke acknowledged that wasn’t good enough and has tried to focus on a more attacking and entertaining style for home fixtures.
Although that hasn’t been a smooth process his team now have the 13th best home record in the division and managing three goals at Carrow Road for just the third time this season continued the rehabilitation.
4 – Srbeny deserved some luck
As loud as the cheers of joy that greeted Murphy’s strike were, they were rivalled when Dennis Srbeny opened his Canaries account.
The January signing from the German third tier had missed a fine chance during the recent win over Reading, when his performance had offered such promise.
So as his touch eluded him amid a mixes first half against Villa, the battling forward was starting to cut a frustrated figure.
However, after fine play from Murphy and Harrison Reed to give the 23-year-old just the keeper to beat in the 53rd minute, his low finish clipped the heels of Sam Johnstone and crept in.
The relief for Srbeny and the Canaries faithful was clear to hear, earning the luck his efforts so deserved.
5 – Midfield mix difficult to predict
Pinning down an exact shape to City’s midfield was rather difficult on Saturday.
The one certainty was that Alex Tettey was sitting deep and sticking to what he does best: breaking up play.
Harrison Reed seemed to be joining him when Villa had the ball before heading towards the right in attack, often switching with the influential Mario Vrancic.
Murphy moved from left to right ahead of his brilliant strike. Reed popped up in the box to link with Murphy and set up Srbeny’s goal. James Maddison was the furthest man forward as Srbeny and Murphy created the third.
Such a fluid set-up makes it difficult for opposition sides to prepare for that attacking talent. Sharper passing and clinical finishing made the big difference though.
6 – Will the real City please stand up
As enjoyable as a convincing defeat of Aston Villa was, it was also a justifiable source of frustration.
How can a team beaten 4-1 at mid-table rivals QPR on the Monday, imploding in the second half, cut through a promotion hopeful so impressively five days later?
Daniel Farke is no doubt as annoyed as City fans that such inconsistency has prevented him enjoying a more positive first season in English football.
However, it’s not too late to head into the summer in good spirits – after moving into the top half of the table for just the second time since November.
Sunderland will be fighting for their lives tomorrow but if City can continue in the same vein they could just finish this season on a high.