Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 Premier League defeat against Everton
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Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Everton verdict after the Canaries’ 1-0 Premier League home defeat
Norwich hold an unwanted record in the Premier League all to themselves this season. Daniel Farke’s squad is the only one not to scratch out even a solitary point when they fall behind.
The depressing tally now stands at 20 and counting, after Michael Keane profited from the generous space afforded him at the near post to rise unmarked to meet Lucas Digne’s corner.
That bald statistic perhaps speaks volumes. Some would argue it graphically illustrates how porous Norwich have been. Injuries or no injuries. Others question the temperament within this group to respond in the face of adversity.
Irrespective, a second consecutive home defeat behind closed doors on the resumption effectively sealed City’s top flight status.
If it was ever really in doubt.
2. Different hand. Same outcome
Farke opted to make four changes from that unacceptable offering against Southampton. The creative thrust of Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell was benched. So too Tom Trybull after a difficult shift against the Saints and the headline exit of Teemu Pukki.
Alex Tettey added ballast and this was a markedly improved offering from a pretty low base it must be said.
City looked cohesive and in Onel Hernandez had the pick of the players on show in the first half. But another cheap early concession on the resumption emboldened a sluggish Everton, and sapped the energy and any intent from the hosts.
Farke baulked at the questioning of his tactical approach on Friday.
There will be no such searing analysis this time. Maybe questions with the benefit of hindsight over his selection policy. Although at half-time having game changers to turn in his replacements looked inspired.
But City still came up short. Yet again, underlining how impossibly difficult they have found it to bridge the divide.
3. Message received
If the club’s reigning player-of-the-year and Championship title winning talisman can be omitted from the starting line up, then no-one is safe in this Canaries’ set-up.
Farke talked up the progress and the fitness of Josip Drmic, when he harnessed him with the Finnish international in a shift against Southampton that failed to spark.
Get over the shock value and Pukki really could have no complaints on his productivity since a December toe injury at Leicester that really curtailed a season which had carried on in the same prolific vein as his stunning debut tour in England.
No goals from 28 attempts on target, excluding his accuracy from the penalty spot against Bournemouth and Tottenham, is a poor return for a player of his undoubted calibre.
A seriously heavy workload for both club and country over these past 18 months or so, plus those niggling injury concerns, had dulled his effectiveness. Drmic did little to suggest he can be a better alternative however against the Toffees.
But perhaps Pukki’s declining effectiveness merely typifies his team’s sad, slow trudge back to the Championship.
4. Hungry Hernandez
City’s Cuban wide player looked in the mood to make a statement on his first Premier League start since December 28. Not one but two knee injuries both requiring surgery scuppered his chances to really fly the flag for his native homeland in the high profile Premier League.
That and the emergence of Cantwell, who got the nod at Liverpool and rightfully was Farke’s preferred choice.
But Cantwell was among a posse who failed to impress against Southampton. Hernandez attacked Seamus Coleman from the start. A first half effort grazed the outside of a post. That would have capped something of a fairytale comeback.
There was also a willingness and desire to track back and assist Jamal Lewis in trying to subdue Alex Iwobi. But, like the rest of his team mates, Hernandez ran out of steam.
Perhaps he could be forgiven after his chronic lack of game time this season.
You could not get a bigger contrast between the technically gifted promptings of Cantwell and Hernandez’s directness and raw power.
Farke has the sort of selection dilemma, for what remains of this campaign, he would have craved all over the park far more often.
5. Who’s up for the cup?
Norwich’s FA Cup home tie against Manchester United this weekend might perhaps be the watershed moment for those fans still trying to come to terms with not being able to watch their boys at Carrrow Road.
Such a landmark occasion against such an illustrious opponent would have packed the stadium to the rafters. The atmosphere would have been crackling, the anticipation building to fever pitch before kick off on Saturday. Now there will be banners and goodwill from afar.
City will be huge underdogs, given their lowly league status and how the Reds have dismantled them home and away in the Premier League.
What a cup run from here in such hollow, soulless circumstances actually means in a season unlike any other is another matter entirely. But that is the next hurdle. Scramble over it against the odds and a semi-final at Wembley beckons.
Farke’s squad should hardly need any motivation with the game seemingly up in the league.