‘This was a game between two good teams’ – City defender satisfied with a point after difficult Blades battle
Norwich City don’t need to be too downhearted about their home draw with fellow high-flyers Sheffield United, stand-in skipper Christoph Zimmermann insists.
The Canaries twice allowed their lead to slip in a 2-2 draw with the Blades at Carrow Road on Saturday, leaving the hosts three points clear of Chris Wilder’s battling third-placed team.
While a win would of pushed City six points clear, Daniel Farke’s team are now unbeaten in four league games and have lost just one of their last 17 Championship matches – in spite of injuries to key players.
“We knew about Sheffield, they have a very special way of playing, with their attacking centre-backs,” said Zimmermann. “That’s tough to defend but we did quite well and for that reason, because of their quality on one hand but also because of their unique way of playing.
“They are hard to defend, which makes them very hard to stop and their attacking quality is quite high. If two teams, after 29 games in the season, are still competing on a good level in these positions in the table I think they are there for a good reason.
“So that’s no coincidence and for that I think this was a game between two good teams in this league, who I think will be in these positions towards the end of the season.”
The German continued to partner Ben Godfrey in central defence, with the duo having to deal with a barrage of balls into the box from the hard working visitors, but could do little about Emi Buendia conceding a penalty from which Billy Sharp scored the first equaliser.
Zimmermann admits he was outfoxed by the Blades striker for the visitors’ second though, when the in-form 32-year-old headed in his 19th goal of the season, and compared the experienced front man to City’s top scorer Teemu Pukki.
“Sheffield probably had three or four chances on target and scored twice out of that,” he continued. “Sharp is of outstanding quality, he is in double figures in the league, more or less the same as Teemu and it’s sometimes difficult to play against strikers of that quality.
“Sometimes you don’t see them for a whole game but then they are in the right place to score and that’s what can make the difference.
“For the second goal he had good movement, I thought he was going to go near post and then went back to the far post, heads it inside the six-yard box and scores like that, so it was a second where I lost him and he doesn’t need much to score.
“Of course frustrating for a defender but it shows his quality.”
The 26-year-old former Borussia Dortmund II defender captained the Canaries for a second successive game, in the continuing injury absence of Timm Klose and Alex Tettey, with Grant Hanley still among the substitutes,
He escaped a clash with Gary Madine in the first half which saw the Blades appeal for a penalty but was booked for a poor tackle on John Fleck midway through the second half, which sparked some angry pushing.
Zimmermann shoved Sharp to the ground during that flashpoint but insists he didn’t think there was enough in the incident to receive an immediate second yellow card.
“No, no, no,” he replied with a smile, when asked if he was worried in the moment. “There were emotions in the game because when you are up twice and concede two goals it’s a bit frustrating and I also thought in the moment that it didn’t need to be given as a foul, so I got a bit emotional.
“But I think it was a normal incident, he (Sharp) also didn’t need to go down to the floor but I understand because he is experienced he knows what he is doing, but I wasn’t afraid of getting a double yellow.”