Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at Chelsea
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Chelsea verdict after the Canaries’ 1-0 Premier League defeat.
A club record equalling eighth consecutive league defeat graphically illustrated how badly this Premier League campaign has unravelled for Daniel Farke’s squad.
Chelsea escaped with the win at Carrow Road when these sides met in the first month of this elongated season.
But it was a rip-roaring, high energy, even contest when Norwich looked full of enthusiasm and propelled by momentum from the Championship title win.
Chelsea were very much a work in progress under new boss and returning hero Frank Lampard.
This scoreline in the Stamford Bridge return may have looked just as tight, but in truth Norwich tried to erect barriers and Chelsea were unable to break them down.
Bar another defensive lapse from Timm Klose, in losing Olivier Giroud, once Todd Cantwell was unable to cut out the ball at source from Christian Pulisic.
The goal, seconds from half-time, was another avoidable concession. No lack of effort or commitment on show in west London. But defensive resolve and attacking quality were again in chronically short supply.
2. Haves and have nots
Chelsea had four current England internationals on the bench.
Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi were introduced for the final quarter, as Lampard sought to avoid a nervy finale in the Blues’ bid to strike a blow in a fascinating race for a Champions League spot.
Both Abraham and Hudson-Odoi would command many millions on the open market. Norwich have gems of their own, but the respective substitutes’ benches told the story of not only a game but a season.
Norwich’s squad and starting line up has lacked the depth over the entire piece to compete. You can talk about injuries or deficiencies in Farke’s own methods, but the Premier League landscape is uneven and skewered towards the established order.
What surely irks many City fans is they knew that before a ball was kicked at Liverpool and accepted the odds.
They would have liked to see more of a concerted effort from those players to bridge the huge divide.
3. Championship clues?
The wait to see Adam Idah leading the Norwich line goes on but Farke’s call to deploy Kenny McLean and Lukas Rupp in tandem, with Alex Tettey patrolling behind, may be a formula repeated back in the Football League.
Farke has spoken glowingly in recent days about how important McLean is to his midfield mix; offering running power and physicality.
Tettey’s experience and impressive fitness levels show few signs of dropping with age, as he prepares to enter the final season of his Carrow Road career.
Both look like the type of reliable operators Farke is likely to favour at the level below. Rupp divides opinion, to put it diplomatically, with many City fans.
But Farke is clearly convinced, and with Jacob Lungi Sørensen set to join the mix, Norwich’s engine room could be a congested place before Farke applies the creative flourishes to the rest of his Championship midfield.
4. Slim rations
Plenty of focus for Norwich City’s goalscoring ills has fallen on the broad shoulders of Teemu Pukki. Since that foot injury at Leicester City in December he has looked a shadow of the frontman who terrorised the Championship and was the Premier League’s player-of-the-month in August.
Farke has to light a fire under the Finnish international during the close season. But Josip Drmic has now made 21 top flight appearances. Granted, plenty of those will have been abbreviated cameos from the bench.
Equally true, since the restart he has had greater involvement as Pukki was taken out of the firing line.
He is yet to convince. With Idah waiting in the wings you would expect to see more devil in the penalty box and smoothness to his link up play.
The pedigree is not in doubt but one solitary Premier League goal against Aston Villa, and that owing to Tom Heaton’s rush of blood with the visitors 5-0 up at Carrow Road, is a poor return. The jury remains out.
5. Webber’s world
Soft soap was in short supply when the club’s sporting director brutally dissected the Canaries’ Premier League woes at Colney on Monday. If City fans want a scapegoat look no further than the man who appointed Farke, and by his own admission, failed to equip him with enough firepower in the top flight.
It might not feel like it right now but that staleness and sense of drift will not persist on Webber’s watch beyond the end of this wretched campaign. That may fail to induce optimism, but it should offer hope. This is Webber’s reputation on the line as much as Farke’s or Norwich City’s.
He will not want to have it tarnished indelibly for whatever career posting comes next. Expect a squad turnover this summer and a refusal, driven from Webber at the top, to accept reverse is the new direction of travel.