Robin Sainty: City have set a standard, now they need to maintain it

Emi Buendia had one of his more productive outings for Norwich at Leicester Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Emi Buendia had one of his more productive outings for Norwich at Leicester Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

The only predictable thing about this Norwich City side is its total unpredictability.

Having meekly submitted to Sheffield United I don't think many of us travelled to the King Power with too much hope in our hearts and the Leicester fans uniformly clad in their blue Santa hats were clearly expecting a routine win without having to put themselves to the trouble of getting behind their team.

The Yellow Army on the other hand cranked the volume up to 11 and kept it there all afternoon as a disciplined City slowly constricted Leicester's supply lines while giving the home side's central defenders an afternoon to forget as Teemu Pukki pulled them here, there and everywhere.

Daniel Farke set his side up to be more compact and that was a big factor, but it's also worth noting that Leicester's narrow first-half diamond formation allowed plenty of space to break into in wide areas, particularly on their left, which City were able to exploit, and it wasn't a coincidence that Max Aarons had his best game of the season by some distance.

However, anyone putting the result down to Leicester being complacent or, as their manager Brendan Rodgers laughably suggested after the game, "the ball not dropping for them" would be barking up completely the wrong tree.

City not only made the hosts look rather ordinary and increasingly devoid of ideas by the final 20 minutes, but also landed plenty of punches of their own as a revitalised Emi Buendia picked holes in Leicester's defence.

Ironically, Buendia out-performed James Maddison, who had a strangely ineffective game, although his love affair with the City fans clearly remains intact, not least because of his response to the difficult situation created by Kelechi Iheanacho's ill-considered decision to try to score rather than return possession after City had put the ball out for treatment to Buendia when he deliberately knocked what would have been a dangerous free-kick out for a goal-kick. The mutual applause between the player and the City fans when he came over to us after the final whistle was truly heartfelt.

There were plenty of positives, but City's performance wasn't flawless by any means.

Once again they conceded from a set-piece with Kenny McLean failing to anticipate Jamie Vardy's run beyond the near post, and they invited a little bit of unnecessary pressure in the closing stages.

Teemu Pukki can't quite get on the end of a cross from Max Aarons at Leicester 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTeemu Pukki can't quite get on the end of a cross from Max Aarons at Leicester Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Both Christoph Zimmermann and Alex Tettey were guilty of aimless dribbles which ended up surrendering possession, while Ben Godfrey and Tom Trybull somehow combined to gift Leicester a corner from a Norwich goal-kick, but these errors were far outweighed by the steel that was shown throughout.

Total commitment was on display everywhere, with Pukki and Ben Godfrey both cannoning into posts in attempts to either score or prevent goals and Aarons giving Zimmermann a verbal lashing after the latter had put him under pressure with a poor pass.

Whilst it was not particularly sensible, the way that the City players reacted to the Iheanacho incident en masse was also indicative of the unity on the pitch.

However, City can't continue to intersperse this type of performance with the sort of displays that we saw against Watford and Southampton. It's great that they have picked up four points from three games against the top three teams, but the defeats in the games against those nearest to them could well be the difference between survival and relegation at the end of the season.

Last week's performance once again confirmed that there is sufficient quality in the squad to stay up, but that quality has to be blended with the sort of work rate and desire that we saw at the King Power in every game, not just those against the top teams.

A standard has been set and it's vital that City now maintain it going forward, starting this afternoon.

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