Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-1 Premier League home defeat against Wolves
PUBLISHED: 22:22 21 December 2019 | UPDATED: 00:37 22 December 2019
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Wolves verdict after the Canaries’ 2-1 Premier League defeat
This might cut as deep as the pummelling to Aston Villa or on a lesser scale, Manchester United.
Mainly because Norwich spurned any number of excellent chances in a dominant first half to be further ahead than Todd Cantwell's strike.
Wolves' stopper Rui Patricio was excellent but that lack of cutting edge was punished after the interval.
City looked to have avoided the early second half carnage that saw them undone by Sheffield United last time out but Wolves were relentless.
The pressure finally told and Norwich in truth never remotely looked like getting back on level terms. One point from the last six home league games is relegation form. That is stating the obvious.
But City did more than enough to earn some tangible reward. It was another painful lesson what is required in both boxes at this level.
2. Hat tip Hanley
This was a huge day in Grant Hanley's Norwich career.
Pitched into the fray from the start after a three month injury layoff he had big boots to fill in the untimely absence of Ben Godfrey.
The England Under-21 international has forged a solid central defensive pairing with Christoph Zimmermann this year.
Hanley was relegated to the role of cheerleader over the Championship title run in, but this had to be a leading role.
His aggressive win in an aerial duel with Raul Jimenez sparked the move that led to Cantwell's opener. There might also be another positive dividend to Hanley's presence in Norwich's back four.
That set piece vulnerability at the near post from corners was noticeably absent against Wolves. When the ball arrowed towards Krul, Hanley was invariably on the scene. The big Scot also bailed out Christoph Zimmermann on more than one occasion. Alas, there was no winning return.
Pure adrenaline may have got him through this game, but he will need time and minutes on the pitch to get back up to speed. One hopes he is ready to go again on Boxing Day.
3. Vamos Emi
Emi Buendia did not deserve to be on the losing side. The first 45 minutes was as good as Buendia has sparkled in a Norwich shirt. Given his influence on the Championship joy ride that was some statement.
But the Argentinian maestro really was football heaven as he fizzed and crackled under the Carrow Road lights.
The only surprise in that first half was he had no material impact on Cantwell's opener. Everything else City fashioned had his fingerprints - or should that be fantastic footprints - over them.
Teemu Pukki should have opened his account for the afternoon courtesy of another couple of gorgeous threaded passes in the manner the duo teamed up at Leicester. But the really telling intervention that demonstrated Buendia appears to have put his top flight struggles behind him was a physical tussle won with Jonny tight to his own byline.
When the Wolves man came back for afters he was rebuffed again before a trick got him past Romain Saiss to the delight of the home crowd. It showcased his growing sense of responsibility.
Buendia is not the finished article, but he remains a crucial part of how Norwich defy the odds from here.
4. Thankless task, Sam
Spare a thought for Norwich's right back/left back. He does tend to get the short straw.
A first Premier League start pitched him against Manchester City's Raheem Sterling no less. Byram came out on top in that battle, as did the Canaries.
Switched to the opposite flank in recent times he found himself facing Demarai Gray in the second half at Leicester - another young English wide talent.
Here, it was Wolves' frighteningly quick Adama Traore.
Byram was thankful for the back up from his team mates on occasion but the manner he stuck gamely to his task was another huge tick in the box. There was perhaps an inevitable yellow card for his troubles after taking evasive action to halt his man in the second half.
Isolated at the back post against two Wolves' defenders, Byram himself would concede he needed to do better against Romain Saiss for the visitor's second half equaliser. But this was another shift that demonstrated Norwich's recruitment looks to have paid dividends again.
5. What next?
The bottom of the Premier League table will make bleak reading on Christmas Day. Southampton's 3-1 win at Aston Villa leaves City six points adrift of safety (plus an inferior goal difference) but given the Claret and Blues have replaced the Saints in the bottom three it adds an extra dimension to a Boxing Day collision at Villa Park.
Norwich fans would give plenty to savour another memorable trip, after lifting the Championship title on their last visit.
It will be fraught and frenetic but given Villa have spent vastly more than the Canaries to bolster their squad for the Premier League challenge you could reasonably argue all the expectation weighs firmly on Dean Smith's shoulders.
Get something to return to Norfolk for a home Premier League double header and the festive period can still offer some cheer.