Paddy Davitt verdict: Red sky at night. City delight
PUBLISHED: 14:28 24 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:28 24 November 2019
When you pitch up at Everton wearing a red strip you have to deliver. This was a statement of intent from Norwich City in the Premier League.
Colours more familiar with the Toffees' rivals across Stanley Park could have acted as a stimulant for Marco Silva's lacklustre team.
Silva's job prospects on Merseyside now look bleak.
When your own fans join in with a mocking chant of 'You're getting sacking' sparked by celebrating away supporters you might want to start studying the small print.
To state Everton were poor in no way is to lessen just how good, how cohesive, how defensively resolute and clinically effective Daniel Farke's boys were.
Norwich really had no right to look so composed or superior, given they pitched up in the north-west on the back of a miserable spell.
No points, not enough goals scored, far too many conceded and a sense youthful naivety was sucking all the joy and the hope and the optimism out of getting to the big time in the first place.
It is far too simplistic to attribute a commanding display to the return of the totemic Christoph Zimmermann.
Farke hailed his compatriot's powers of recovery from a career-threatening foot injury well ahead of schedule on the eve of battle. There was something almost superhuman about the way his imposing presence galvanised City.
Ben Godfrey looked a different player to the young man struggling to shoulder the responsibility of being the senior figure in a makeshift backline riven with injuries for week after week.
All while playing through a hernia issue himself before corrective surgery.
Godfrey was imperious in the second half, when Everton awoke from their slumbers and tried to muster a concerted response. Block after block mixed with the presence of mind to patrol his near post. Zimmermann hauled his partner to his feet after one such intervention to slap him on the back with a force which might have done mere mortals damage.
Tim Krul stationed behind and a re-shaped midfield in front took their lead from City's special relationship.
There is no doubt both Godfrey and Zimmermann deserved far more credit for their role in anchoring that run to the Championship title.
The goals of Teemu Pukki or the artistry of Emi Buendia were easier headlines to write but Norwich's first choice central pairing are the beating heart of this team. Keeping both fit and healthy will be crucial to any prospect of pulling off what remains an unlikely survival mission.
Not because this group is incapable, but because of the degree of difficulty ahead.
Zimmermann is so much more than the glue that binds. His switches of play and the accuracy of his diagonal passing were just as invaluable as his leadership skills. Norwich had become painfully predictable in their desire to build through Krul on the floor.
Teams were routinely pressing high and waiting for the inevitable mistake or cheap turnover. With Kenny McLean majestic in a far more advanced role around Pukki City went longer with a regularity rarely seen this season.
Whether it was arrogance or just surprise the tactic appeared to catch Everton off-balance.
City's full backs were able to get up the park, Onel Hernandez was able to do his most productive work closer to Jordan Pickford's goal, and Pukki's isolation during a desolate run for his club felt a world away.
The Finn was unable to continue in the same goalscoring vein he produced to seal his country's qualification for next summer's European Championships but rest assured the goals will come if Norwich can build on this template.
That is the real test now.
Farke joked victory on Merseyside was not the precursor to a run at the Premier League crown but it needs to be more than brief respite.
The City head coach deserved to milk the applause at the final whistle.
It has been way too long. This result and performance was one in the eye for those who accuse him of being inflexible.
The decision to promote Todd Cantwell over Buendia, the late introduction of Dennis Srbeny, the re-deployment of McLean and the faith in Zimmermann's body to hold up brought a handsome dividend.
Ibrahim Amadou's late arrival from the bench saw City finish this game in a defensive three.
Srbeny's landmark late goal ensured there was no need for an heroic last stand. Norwich finished on the front foot.
They need to stay there from the outset against Arsenal on Sunday.