Win at Everton breathed fresh hope into City’s season after drastic downturn
PUBLISHED: 09:03 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:03 11 June 2020
In the fourth part of our Norwich City season recap, David Freezer looks back on the month of November and two damaging defeats, which made way for a rejuvenating win as injury issues started to ease.
November brought arguably the lowest point of this season for Norwich City - but finished with a success which gave supporters a thread of top-flight hope to hold on to.
Daniel Farke’s team had picked up a solitary point from a possible 15 since that momentous home victory over Manchester City in mid-September and that was a 0-0 draw away to Bournemouth, with Alex Tettey slotting in to defence admirably.
All of which meant starting the month two points clear of bottom side Watford in 19th place with a paltry seven points from 10 games. City had also scored just 11 goals, as a cruel defensive injury crisis drained so much of the promotion positivity from a squad which had begun the campaign with such high hopes.
Next up was a chance to turn things around against an expected survival rival in Brighton, however the hosts were buoyed by having beaten Tottenham and Everton in their last two matches at the Amex Stadium.
With the experienced Tettey again deputising in central defence, Norwich hit the bar in the first half through Marco Stiepermann but it was only due to a succession of good saves from the overworked Tim Krul that the score was still 0-0 on the hour mark.
Belgian winger Leandro Trossard broke the deadlock in the 86th minute though, barely 10 minutes after coming on, nipping ahead of Ben Godfrey to turn in a cross from City’s left at the near post.
It was Trossard who set up the second as well, delivering a deep free-kick from which Shane Duffy was left unmarked to slide past Krul from close range as the Canaries slumped to a fifth defeat in six games.
It was a dark day for Farke’s team, which started with torrential rain ahead of kick-off and finished without a shot on target and with just 41 percent of possession. Injuries couldn’t take all of the blame either.
Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Timm Klose were still out but beyond that City were pretty much full strength. On this occasion however, it was confidence that was clearly missing, as the well organised Seagulls deservedly took the win.
However, next up was a game that City had to be favourites for - a televised Friday night battle of the bottom two under the floodlights at Carrow Road, as Watford made their way to Norfolk after a dreadful start to the season. The Hornets were without a win in 11 league games. Everyone knew the importance of the match.
Tettey was needed at centre-back again but less than 90 seconds in and that sinking feeling was surging around the Canaries faithful, as Godfrey and Emi Buendia lost possession easily and Gerard Deulofeu waltzed through to slot home a ridiculous opening goal.
City had well and truly shot themselves in the foot and they knew it, giving their nearest rivals a dream start. It led to a tense and scrappy affair as Watford tried to keep control, before pouncing seven minutes after the break as more slack defending saw Andre Gray poke home a Deulofeu cross for 2-0.
It was grim, with the visitors even seeing out the final 35 minutes with 10 men, to leave City bottom and four points from safety with 11 games played.
The international break which followed was greeted with relief, as Teemu Pukki took centre stage as his brace in a 3-0 home win over Liechtenstein sealed Euro 2020 qualification for Finland.
When the Finn returned from his Helsinki party he had the welcome sight of Zimmermann back in the starting XI alongside him at Everton, with Buendia dropping to the bench and Todd Cantwell returning, as well as Sam Byram coming in for the injured Jamal Lewis at left-back.
Cue the most revitalising of 2-0 wins at Goodison Park, as the red away kit suited the visitors very nicely.
Cantwell slotted coolly past England number one Jordan Pickford in the 54th minute to take a deserved lead after some resolute defending and then the cherry was placed on top of the cake by the rarely seen Dennis Srbeny against the expensively assembled mid-table hosts.
After some customary Krul heroics, a kind deflection was taken full advantage of by the German striker, showing good strength to resist pressure and slide home a goal celebrated ecstatically by the Canaries faithful at the same end of the stadium.
It was Srbeny’s first goal in top-flight football - and would prove to be his last for the club - but it had played a major part in restoring some very welcome smiles and belief to a season which had wandered way off course, lifting City to 18th place.