Busy spell had a rejuvenating effect as City found their feet
PUBLISHED: 18:03 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:37 08 October 2018
After a run of just one defeat in nine games – featuring a five-game winning streak – David Freezer takes a look back at how Norwich City’s resurgent form unfolded since the last international break.
Sat in 18th place after one win and two draws from the opening six games of the Championship season, few Norwich City supporters could have expected the fine form of the last month.
Seven games in three weeks promised to really test Daniel Farke’s squad but the Canaries have emerged with 13 points from a possible 18 in the league and a place in the Carabao Cup fourth round booked.
It’s been hectic but it might just have sparked hopes of a brighter future.
Here’s how that intense spell unfolded...
Sat Sept 15 – NCFC 1 Boro 0
Fresh from scoring the goals in 1-0 wins for Finland during the international break, Teemu Pukki made it three in a row by firing City to victory over high-flying Middlesbrough.
It was the first time the Finn had been used as the lone striker, with Marco Stiepermann playing in the advanced midfield role in which he had impressed during the cup win at Cardiff and playing a key role.
Stiepermann and Emi Buendia combined on the right and Pukki calmly controlled Max Aarons’ deflected cross to poke home – with the help of another deflection – from close range and score his fourth of the season.
Weds Sept 19 – Reading 1 NCFC 2
All of a sudden a disappointing draw at Ipswich, combined with the 3-1 League Cup win at Cardiff and the defeat of Boro, was a three-game unbeaten run.
It became four when Pukki slotted home beautifully from the edge of the area after being teed up by Cantwell and Mario Vrancic emerged from the bench as a match-winner.
Having missed all of pre-season the midfielder turned in the box and fired home a low shot in the 73rd minute, to cancel out Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s scrappy equaliser, and spark the celebrations in front of the travelling support.
Sat Sept 22 – QPR 0 NCFC 1
It was that man Pukki again, showing his predatory instincts to take his tally to eight goals in 12 games for club and country.
The former Brondby forward reacted quickly to power home with his chest after a Stiepermann cross from the left was deflected, to find the goal City’s dominant play had deserved at Loftus Road.
Five unbeaten and three successive wins for the first time on Farke’s watch, capped by a fine display in a televised fixture, really started to turn heads.
Tues Sept 25 – Wycombe 3 NCFC 4
With the league pressure off, nine changes were made for the Carabao Cup third round tie against League One opposition at Adams Park.
Jordan Rhodes’ hat-trick and a Tom Trybull header had the Canaries coasting towards the last 16, with Rhodes having had a goal ruled out as well.
A scrappy goal and a dodgy penalty decision kept things interesting but City did enough to see out a spirited comeback and stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
Sat Sept 29 – NCFC 1 Wigan 0
A fifth consecutive win followed but it didn’t come easily, after being denied a clear penalty in the first half against a Wigan side in the top six ahead of kick-off and full of confidence after promotion as League One champions.
Pukki was pivotal again, as he was hauled back by Everton loanee Callum Connolly with just four minutes remaining but it was Vrancic who was the match-winner again, coolly firing the spot-kick down the middle.
It meant five successive wins for the first time since Alex Neil’s team went top of the table in September 2016.
Weds Oct 3 – Derby 1 NCFC 1
The unbeaten run stretched to eight matches at Pride Park – but it very nearly also featured six straight victories.
Timm Klose’s powerful header in the 69th minute had rewarded another adventurous performance from the Canaries but Craig Bryson managed to divert a Martyn Waghorn cross into the net with his thigh with four minutes remaining.
It may have been a disappointing late blow but an away point against promotion hopefuls was still seen as a positive.
Sat Oct 6 – NCFC 0 Stoke 1
All good things have to come to an end and it was an unfortunate Timm Klose own goal which brought a first defeat in nine games for City.
The Potters, with their vast amounts of top-flight and international experience, were in no mood to let the hosts back into the game after that decisive goal in the 35th minute.
The hectic Championship schedule soon gets back up to speed after the current break however, with six games in three weeks taking the Canaries through to the final international fortnight of the year.