Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s stunning 3-1 Championship win at Leeds United
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict from Elland Road
1. All the plaudits, so many plaudits
Wow. What else can you say? Given all the build up to the biggest game of the Championship season, spygate and all that jazz, to produce what must rank as the best performance of the Daniel Farke era was stunning.
City soaked up early pressure and struck venomously on the counter.
Yes, there was a touch of good fortune about the first two goals but the manner Norwich controlled the tempo of the game in the second half was another sign of their growing maturity.
Norwich fans taunted their Leeds’ counterparts with chants of ‘Leeds, falling apart again’ after Mario Vrancic had doubled his lead.
But this was all about an emphatic statment of intent from Farke’s men.
Patrick Bamford’s late header irked the head coach but this was as close to as complete a performance we have seen under the German.
2. Solid oaks
Leeds’ movement across midfield areas in the first half was a blur at times.
City’s backline looked vulnerable without the protection of Alex Tettey. Yet, Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey defended resolutely.
When the ball came in the air, they were aggressive and so sharp. When it was on the deck, and buzzing around the likes of Kemar Roofe, they were composed and clinical in possession.
Roofe’s irritation earned him a booking and then a further lecture from Stuart Atwell as his frustration grew.
That was tick in the box for two centre backs who before a ball was kicked this season were firmly in the shade of Grant Hanley and Timm Klose. Not any more.
3. Stunner Stiepi
Churlish perhaps to signal out anyone in yellow for such a stirring collective effort.
But Marco Stiepermann was on a different level at times. When the game was fraught, he seemed to have all the time in the world.
Buying City precious breathing space in the second period, bringing team mates into play.
There is nothing flash or showy about the towering German. But he is mightily effective. And such an intelligent footballer with an ability to read the game unrivalled perhaps in this Norwich squad. Again in the hottest of hot atmospheres he underlined his value to the cause.
4. Endless possibilities
Marcelo Bielsa allowed himself to ponder what a win would do in opening a six-point gap over their nearest rivals when he was asked at his pre-match press call.
Now Norwich have Leeds in their rear view. Albeit both are locked together on 57 points, with City top on goal difference.
Farke has continued to talk in the present, when asked what is possible for his troops. He did so again after this game. But after a win of such quality at one of their biggest rivals in front of a sold out Elland Road title chatter is now fully justified.
Perhaps more importantly, they have a seven point gap to fourth-placed West Brom, although Albion have a game in hand. The pressure is getting cranked up. Can City’s rivals match them over the weeks ahead?
5. Derby dust-up
In the bigger picture, Ipswich is about another three points to maintain the Canaries’ promotion push.
But given Paul Lambert brings the Blues to Carrow Road next weekend the hype and the East Anglian bragging rights will ensure the build up may well rival what went before this trip to Yorkshire.
Looking at the league table, there should only be one outcome. Ipswich failed again earlier in the day at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Relegation to League One is inevitable barring a footballing turnaround not even Lambert looks capable of engineering.
But be in no doubt, the City Hall of Famer would dearly love to put one over his former employers. Farke and City have to focus on the job in hand. But what an occasion in store at Carrow Road.