Paddy Davitt verdict: What more have you got, City? Because this isn’t enough
PUBLISHED: 13:22 03 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:47 04 November 2019
Predictable is not a good look for Norwich City in the Premier League.
The Canaries' fifth league defeat in six at Brighton was not the result of a lack of effort or commitment or desire. Those are charges you could never level at this group of honest players under Daniel Farke.
But where Farke and his men might start to shuffle a touch more uneasily and start to avert their gaze is how they can keep Premier League rivals off-balance for more than sporadic spells.
Norwich have now scored once away from home in six games at this toughest of levels.
The number crunchers would tell you they failed to muster a single shot at target at the Amex, although that feels exceedingly harsh on Marco Stiepermann for a gorgeous curling effort that smacked Matty Ryan's bar flush before bouncing back into play.
On fine margins perhaps hinge City's quest for Premier League progress, given another bright start from the Canaries.
Yet even if they had managed to take the lead you fear on the growing body of evidence at the other end of the pitch they would have coughed up more than enough chances to eventually get the better of Tim Krul.
Brighton's shot tally topped 21.
The exact same as Manchester United the previous week. Aston Villa had 22 sights of Krul's goal last month. You get the picture.
Whether it is personnel or formation, Norwich remain too easy to pierce and too reliant on the Dutchman's shot-stopping prowess to even keep them in the contest, let alone get over the line in front.
Bournemouth was the exception in those recent tussles. Norwich were resolute without the ball and carved out more than enough chances on the counter in the second half to have prevailed. But they did not.
They have not often enough in those productive patches at Crystal Palace, before the interval, or Manchester United from the kick-off, or even Brighton for the opening quarter.
Alex Tettey's emergency deployment at centre back, with Ibrahim Amadou deemed unfit for active service after only returning to training following a knee issue on Friday, graphically underlined again there are circumstances outside Farke's control.
But at the top end of the pitch, bar Mario Vrancic's addition, he has enough resource to strive for much more.
Teemu Pukki is dropping deeper and deeper in search of meaningful work. Clever balls slipped down the channels and in behind that brought early joy have dried up. Everything is in front of the Finn, with his back to goal and invariably two defenders for company.
City's inability to residually navigate the high press too often forces him to compete in aimless aerial contests against towering rivals such as Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, when he made his first half entrance.
Contrast that with the Seagulls' variety.
The running power of Aaron Connolly, the penalty box instincts of Neal Maupay or the midfield drive of Davy Propper.
You can highlight the respective price tags in two of those cases but there was a clear belief in the summer the core of City's promotion squad could grow and flourish in the Premier League.
The chronic lack of goals at present places intolerable emphasis on stiff resistance at the other end.
For over an hour City's line held firm. There was brave blocks, notably Ben Godfrey's fearless clearing header, routine excellence from Krul and some wayward Brighton finishing.
But there was a foreboding sense the wind was at the Seagulls' back in a ferocious push prior to the interval. The breakthrough owed as much to Norwich's inability to sense danger, as Leandro Trossard's cunning.
The Belgian scored one and then provided the assist for the unmarked Duffy to escape detection and slot a close range free kick. Farke accepted his share of the blame for a double change immediately prior to the clincher, but it was Brighton's new arrival who had the decisive impact.
That demonstrated again the relative lack of depth and quality from the bench to change a game.
The continued omission of Patrick Roberts bodes ill for the loanee's prospects of furthering his Premier League career in green and yellow. There are too many questions stacking up with each fresh failure and a lack of definitive answers.
Farke rightfully sought to downplay the significance of winless Watford's impending Carrow Road visit.
But he knows, and his players surely know, it is an opportunity they simply have to grasp.