Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City's 2-2 Championship draw at Bristol City
PUBLISHED: 23:49 15 December 2018 | UPDATED: 23:49 15 December 2018
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict Ashton Gate
It is a measure of how good Norwich have been for a sustained period that when they collectively fall below such standards you realise the level of consistency to climb to the upper echelons of the Championship.
Bristol City were sharper, hungrier and quicker all over the park for the first 39 minutes. Tim Krul produced two excellent stops.
Then Marco Stiepermann pounced. But thereafter you got another demonstration of what is at the heart of Daniel Farke’s squad. Alex Tettey and Jamal Lewis were both culpable for the hosts’ equaliser. There was more weak defensive work for Bristol’s second.
Add the absence of Timm Klose through injury and Moritz Leitner only fit for the bench. Key personnel on this ascent. All the cards were stacked against them.
But the motto of this season is simple for the Canaries: ‘they find a way’. Another point when you have failed to hit the heights is another step nearer the end game. To go 10 games unbeaten in the league for the first time since Chris Hughton’s era says it all.
2. Mighty Max
What more is left to be said about Norwich’s teenage full back? I say full back, but the manner he attacked Onel Hernandez’s driven ball at the far post and the composed header to grab City a point was top drawer forward play.
A repeat of his cut and thrust in the recent home game against Rotherham that brought him a first league goal. There will be plenty more in a career which already looks set to hit the heights.
Allied to the talent is the temperament. Nothing fazes the youngster. The trust shown by Farke has already been handsomely repaid. Aarons is a Premier League player in the making. It is only a case of when.
3. Hail Farke
What an intervention from the Norwich head coach. A double change that brought Jordan Rhodes and Hernandez into the fray with the visitors labouring at 2-1 down.
Plus a tactical switch to three at the back which required Aarons to move from right full back to left wing back. The result?
Within two minutes Hernandez was driving to the byline after cutting past his marker to drill a ball to the back stick for Aarons to conjure a delicious equaliser.
The television replays showed Farke settled for a rather restrained two arms raised skywards to greet Aarons’ leveller. He should have taken a bow. In big moments, when the pressure is at its highest and the game is running away from you, you need a leader to make the right calls. This was another demonstration of Farke’s coolness.
4. Stunner Stiepi
A third goal in five games underlined Farke’s pre-match comments that Stiepermann has emerged as an unlikely successor to James Maddison in a vital creative support role from midfield. Two vastly different players in many respects you could argue. Except one.
Stiepermann’s latest goal was excellent both in execution and the thought process.
Christoph Zimmermann’s clip to Teemu Pukki at first sight did not look a City counter of huge promise, but Stiepermann firstly hit the brakes to create enough space to offer a passing option.
The German was already on the move before the ball arrived, opening his body and then whipping a gorgeous left-footed curler around Niki Maenpaa into the side netting.
Stiepermann may have been a surprising choice when he first appeared in that number 10 type role earlier this season. Not any more.
5. Tettey Tightrope
City’s captain was fortunate to remain on the pitch when he dragged back a Bristol player early in the second half, after already being booked in the opening period.
There was little or no difference with Sammi Ameobi’s dismissal for a similar offence on Todd Cantwell at Carrow Road the previous weekend.
Referee East settled for a stiff lecture but all that did was incur the wrath of the home fans who taunted Tettey whenever he was in possession. Lee Johson and his staff raged to the fourth official.
There was another couple of anxious moments when he conceded free kicks, before Farke mercifully replaced Tettey with Jordan Rhodes.
The Norwegian’s game is all about muscle and breaking up play. But this was a very close call. Had Norwich gone down to 10 even their fabled fighting spirit may not have been enough.