Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s painful 4-3 Championship defeat against Derby County
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Carrow Road
1. Power Cut
Where do you start? Norwich were scintillating for 35 minutes or so. Ben Godfrey and Teemu Pukki fired Daniel Farke’s side in front. Derby looked frankly passive and lacking in energy or ideas. But they stormed back to level before the break after punishing Norwich twice from set pieces.
Norwich then hit back through Pukki before the lights went out. Or a partial failure at the River End of the ground.
The roar that greeted the restoration of full power after about 15 minutes sounded like a goal. But with nine minutes plus additional time to navigate, City imploded.
Duane Holmes surged unopposed into the Norwich area before Florian Jozefzoon scrambled home at the back post.
Then Jack Marriott shrugged off Christoph Zimermann to coolly chip over Tim Krul. Cruel was the word. But there was too many self-inflicted blows for even this depleted Canaries’ collective to overcome. Although they gave it a good go with Scott Carson foiling Todd Cantwell before Jordan Rhodes smacked a shot against the underside of his bar in the final seconds.
2. Dirty Dozen
If you want to be flippant you could say if you are going to lose a 12-match unbeaten league run then do it style. This game will live long in the memory for many reasons.
But when the dust settled, Norwich had suffered a first Championship defeat since Stoke’s fortunate 1-0 success in early October. Farke said before kick off with a fresh wave of injuries to key personnel, Derby were the favourites.
That will do nothing to soften this blow. But keep one statistic in mind when the fog clears. Norwich have bounced back from every league defeat this season with a win in their next fixture.
Brentford on New Year’s Day now assumes even greater proportions.
3. Missing Moritz
It is increasingly apparent how big a miss Leitner is, in terms of controlling the tempo and reducing the anxiety levels in Norwich’s midfield.
The last two festive home games have seen opposition dangermen roam with too much freedom through central areas. Leitner does not control a game with his ability to smash into tackles in the manner of Alex Tettey or a Godfrey.
But what he does is keep the ball. Which denies opponents a chance to probe for vulnerability in City’s backline.
Mario Vrancic again showed what he offers in a creative attacking sense.
There was a wonderful diagonal pass for Marco Stiepermann to open the scoring before he won the ball and then sparked a counter to cushion a perfectly-weighted pass for Pukki to add a second.
But it was apparent when the game started to tilt wildly towards Derby from that point on how easy it was for the Rams to work Mason Mount and Harry Wilson into probing areas.
With Leitner ruled out until the start of February at the earliest, Farke may have to get creative himself.
4. Corner carnage
In this era of information overload there is a graphic waiting to be produced of the goals Norwich have conceded from corners. To ship two in almost identical fashion was tough to digest. Take nothing away from the purity of the strikes.
Especially Fikayo Tomori’s hammer shot against the underside of Krul’s bar.
But having worked so hard and so skilfully to earn a position of relative strength, Norwich collectively left the door ajar. Stiepermann and Pukki both had chances to get it anywhere but Tomori’s right foot and there was more indecision before Mount levelled prior to the interval.
On top of those recent goals shipped at Swansea and home to Rotherham, when Krul was unable to deal decisively with initial hits from unmarked players on the edge of the Canaries’ penalty area, it remains a vulnerable area for Farke and his coaches to address.
5. Bravo Ben
There was plenty of permutations and plenty of opinions for what Farke would do to compensate primarily for the injury absence of Jamal Lewis. Everything from a tactical reshuffle to hauling Stiepermann back to a less advanced left-back berth. In the end Godfrey was deployed in Lewis’ vacancy, while the preferred shape remained the same as for the vast majority of Norwich’s march up the Championship.
That was a huge vote of confidence in the young man, who has kept the likes of Grant Hanley at bay despite the Scot returning to full fitness. Little could Farke have envisaged Godfrey would also add an attacking dimension to his re-deployment. Powering in at the back post to slam home Stiepermann’s cut back for the opener.
Godfrey was strong aerially and composed in possession oeprating in what must have been an unfavoured flank for the right footed youngster. He might not have earned quite the same headlines as some of City’s other youth brigade this season, but Godfrey underlined his value to the cause. And his versatility.
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