Perfection, rust, salt and friendly fun – six things learned from Norwich City’s thumping of Luton
After a convincing 5-1 friendly win at Luton, David Freezer assesses Norwich City’s progress as the final week of pre-season begins, with six lessons learned at Kenilworth Road.
1 - Loanee is looking a bit special
There had been flashes of pre-season class from Patrick Roberts but there was no denying he was the star of the show at Luton.
The hosts may have been rather unimpressive and overawed but that owed much to the irrepressible attacking of City's midfield, with the Manchester City loanee in the thick of the action.
The 22-year-old delivered the corner from which Marco Stiepermann scrambled in the opener and it was his switch to Max Aarons on the right which sparked Josip Drmic's first. A fine defence-splitting pass set Todd Cantwell away before Drmic made it 3-0 and the Swiss striker finished his hat-trick by heading in another Roberts corner from the left.
He wasn't finished there though, having played a key part in all four goals. He dropped his shoulder, bought a yard of space and then curled a 25-yard effort into the top-left corner.
The prospect of Roberts dove-tailing with Emi Buendia is rather tantalising.
2 - Perfection from free transfer
It felt like Josip Drmic truly arrived as a Norwich City player at the weekend.
Scoring a traditional 'perfect' hat-trick of a goal with his right foot, left foot and head is always a good way to show fans what you can do.
More than that though, the 26-year-old showed the kind of instinct and movement that Teemu Pukki boasts, suggesting the free transfer could well prove to be an ideal addition. It's still early days and there was never really any question over the Switzerland international's calibre. It has all been about rediscovering form and fitness for Drmic - and his Luton treble looks a step in the right direction.
The looping header which sealed his hat-trick certainly seemed to impress Daniel Farke, a former striker himself of course. Let's not forget, Drmic was the third highest scorer in the Bundesliga in 2013-14.
Oh, and to celebrate his hat-trick? Release a dance song on Youtube of course!
3 - Cantwell starting to impress
Another Canaries player to enjoy a very positive game at Kenilworth Road was academy ace Todd Cantwell.
With that new contract safely signed and sealed, Dereham's finest has set about finding the form which made him an important part of Daniel Farke's team during the first half of last season.
He's buzzed through all the friendly games so far, with an energy that suggests he is desperate for some Premier League action, and there were plenty of flicks and tricks on show at Luton.
The 21-year-old exchanged a lovely one-two to allow Max Aarons to cross for Drmic's first goal and generally linked nicely with Roberts and Marco Stiepermann throughout the 5-1 win.
Cantwell was the man running beyond the last man to control a gorgeous long pass from Roberts in the 14th minute and looked poised to score, only for home keeper Simon Sluga to make a fine save. Drmic gratefully slotted home the loose ball but the midfielder enjoyed his day.
4 - Trybull searching for form
Pre-season is largely about shaking off the rust after the intense fitness work - and Tom Trybull is one of the City players who has needed the friendly game time.
The German midfielder was in inspired form during the second half of last season but an ankle injury forced him off during the 2-2 draw at Stoke on Easter Monday and he had to miss the final two games of glory.
He's been eased back into action during pre-season and is in need of protection with Alex Tettey, the only other genuine defensive midfielder in the squad, yet to emerge.
Trybull was grateful to Aarons for bailing him out early on after a stray pass had conceded possession, looped a seemingly easy headed clearance backwards towards Tim Krul at a corner and was relieved that Elliot Lee couldn't turn in a cross in the 32nd minute after another loose pass.
He finally settled and with another 70 minutes in the tank Trybull can start trying to rediscover his confidence.
5 - Pinch of salt still required
Were Norwich brilliant, or were Luton poor? It's often the debate after such a one-sided match, even in a pre-season friendly.
The League One champions begin their season on Friday with a televised clash against Middlesbrough to kick-off the Championship season.
That may have been part of the reason for the Hatters barely making a tackle during the first half, as the usual pre-season injury nerves played a part.
However, City were clearly fired up, moving the ball and their players at a dizzying speed seemingly far too much for the hosts. The 3-1 defeat to Brentford on Wednesday may well have played a part, as Daniel Farke's side ensured they weren't beaten by another Championship side.
City will need to maintain their levels in their next friendly at Carrow Road on Tuesday against Italian side Atalanta, who qualified for the Champions League after finishing third in Serie A last season. That will pose a far sterner test for the Canaries.
6 - Enjoy the pre-season optimism
An impressive 642 City fans made the effort to watch the friendly at Kenilworth Road.
They thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon as well, even if four of the Norwich goals were scored at the other end from where they were sitting.
Roberts at least saved the best of the goals until the second half, as he curled his sumptuous effort into the top corner in front of the impressed away contingent.
There were even chants of 'Champions of Europe, we're coming for you' as the excitement for that big opening night at Liverpool starts to build. They followed Drmic's first goal making it 2-0, as did a green smoke bomb. As that mostly seemed to annoy the Norwich fans, perhaps not the best decision.
It was good pre-season fun on the whole though, added to by a cameo from Dennis Srbeny in the final 30 minutes. The German pulled off a lovely pirouette on the ball to set Drmic away and soon after won a corner to earn 'oh, Dennis Srbeny' chants. A cult hero emerges?