David Freezer: Six things you might have missed following City’s FA Cup win at Burnley
PUBLISHED: 08:19 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 27 January 2020
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Following a heartening FA Cup victory at Burnley, David Freezer assesses Norwich City’s recent progress.
1 - Unfamiliar ground for Canaries
It's not often that Norwich City fans have been able to enjoy the FA Cup - so let's savour some positivity in the world oldest and most famous club competition.
City are into the fifth round for just the fifth time in 28 campaigns since their 1992 semi-final. Three of those ties have been away, losing 5-0 at Everton in 1995, 2-0 at Southampton in 2003 and 4-0 at Chelsea in 2007 - the other a 2-1 home loss to Leicester in 2012 when the Foxes were in the Championship and City in the top flight.
So a home tie would be very welcome in tonight's draw, as attentions turn to trying to secure a rare quarter-final occasion.
While cup games come with the risk of injury and suspension it seems pretty clear from this weekend's lifted spirits that confidence from a win outweighs those concerns in City's current top-flight predicament.
Let's not forget that Daniel Farke's team have only had four wins to enjoy during 24 Premier League games, so a deserved win - which should have been more comfortable - can only be seen as a positive.
2 - Positives offer solid foundation
Those improved spirits are about more than just an FA Cup win at Burnley though - you could argue that six of City's last seven matches have been positive.
Home draws with Tottenham and Palace which should have been wins, the Adam Idah inspired 4-2 cup win at Preston, winning a crucial clash with Bournemouth 1-0 at Carrow Road and being unlucky not to get at least a draw at Spurs - momentum has been building.
The aberration is the 4-0 flop at Manchester United but even then the away fans stood by their team in a difficult moment.
Farke is trying his hand as a miracle worker and if he is to manage something special during the final 14 games, the foundations appear to have been laid already.
While a draw at Newcastle on Saturday does feel like the minimum required to stay in the survival race, the mood around the Canaries doesn't feel like one of a club which has been in the bottom three since early October.
3 - Headaches finally for City boss
It seems those improved performances owe a great deal to competition for places as well, which is growing by the game.
Kenny McLean puts in one of his best displays in a City shirt at Spurs - but Mario Vrancic responds with a key role in an FA Cup win full of attacking verve in the left-sided central midfield role.
A commanding set-piece goal has strengthened Grant Hanley's attempts to reclaim his starting place while Ben Godfrey serves his ban and Lukas Rupp has shown signs of real potential during Emi Buendia's injury absence.
Idah's hat-trick and now a fit-again Josip Drmic have finally given 11-goal star Teemu Pukki some welcome rivalry up front as well.
Ralf Fahrmann also had a good game in goal at Turf Moor, giving Farke selection considerations in almost every position. This game may not quite have been of Premier League standard but that competition for places must be good for training intensity ahead of Newcastle.
4 - Defenders must share the burden
That Hanley header was far more satisfying than it should have been as well, becoming the first defender to score for City this season - in the 27th game of their frustrating campaign.
Compare that with last season - admittedly in the Championship - when Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Timm Klose, Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann managed 14 between them.
It was the Scot's first since August 2018, which is little surprise given his injury issues, but it was also the first goal from a defender since Zimmermann notched a powerful header in a 2-2 draw with Reading last April.
That quite clearly is not good enough and hasn't helped ease the pressure on Pukki during this season.
Around 20 percent of all goals scored in the Premier League this season have come from set-pieces but just 12.5pc of City's have. As the search for a miracle begins, various measures must improve and that looks to be an obvious area to focus on.
5 - Avoidable calamitous concession
Of course the priority will always be keeping the back door shut for defenders though, leaving Hanley and Zimmermann annoyed to see a fourth clean sheet of the season slip away in calamitous fashion.
From Jamal Lewis being the wrong side of Aaron Lennon, to Tom Trybull's wayward clearance, Vrancic's poor header and Rupp's rather half-hearted block - it may have been a decent finish by Erik Pieters but it was totally and utterly avoidable.
Fahrmann had made two good early saves to deny Jay Rodriguez and Robbie Brady but City should have been out of sight when the hosts got a goal back in the 72nd minute.
Injuries can take some of the blame and the attacking style of Farke's tactics often lead to vulnerability at the back, but last season they still managed to keep 13 clean sheets - which in themselves build confidence for players.
With that in mind, it looks likely that the experience of Alex Tettey has to return in midfield against Newcastle.
6 - Flashes of class from goal-scorer
Saturday's game was just a third start for Josip Drmic since the striker played all of a World Cup knockout tie in Russia in July 2018.
That sentence alone comes as an apt reminder of the level of player City were hoping they could reinvigorate when the 27-year-old was signed on a free transfer.
That game was a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the last 16 of the World Cup, one of Drmic's 32 caps for Switzerland. Ever since his injuries have been cruel but in the last two and a half seasons he has still scored eight goals in 31 games, at an average of a goal ever 118 minutes.
His finishing was clearly in need of a tune up at Turf Moor but his positioning and link play reflected the true quality and potential that lie dormant in those boots.
Whether Drmic can play a major role during this season remains to be seen, but should City find themselves back in the Championship in 2020-21, they could well have another Pukki style story waiting in the wings.