Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s brave 2-1 League Cup exit at Arsenal
PUBLISHED: 17:54 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:58 26 October 2017
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Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his verdict after an epic at the Emirates
1. Rage against the machine - Has that sense of injustice subsided? No, probably not. It was ever thus. A familiar refrain of the smaller, less fashionable provincial football clubs when they pitch up at the aristocracy.
That feeling of an uneven playing field. Not a question mark about the impartiality of the officials, you understand. More a perception the so-called bigger clubs get a favourable deal in the most contentious moments.
Sour grapes? No way. Much was made about Arsenal’s supposed infringements of the rules on extra substitutes. That proved wide of the mark. But unless the law on denying a goalscoring opportunity has undergone a subtle revision, Mohamed Elneny should have walked for scything down Nelson Oliveira in the act of preparing to test Matt Macey.
Add in James Husband’s tumble after bursting the wrong side of Mathieu Debuchy inside the Arsenal penalty area and a questionable corner award for the match-clinching goal and you can understand the depth of frustration from Daniel Farke.
2. One for the scrapbook - Once the sting subsides the near 9,000-strong travelling army will have derived huge pride from watching a performance dripping with effort, endeavour, character and bravery.
For all the tangible sense of a raw deal, City had chances to put Arsenal away in the second half. But that should not detract from a performance which encapsulated everything that is good about this group of players under a head coach who appears to possess the alchemist’s touch.
Farke spoke in his post-match media about getting their rewards further down the line if they continue to show the same desire and courage. More days like these would be something to savour. Albeit with a more favourable outcome.
3. Stepping out of the shadows - Angus Gunn had a tough act to follow when he pitched up at his boyhood club. Bryan’s legacy speaks for itself. But after writing his own East Anglian derby chapter at the weekend, Gunn junior was top drawer again.
The tip over from Rob Holding was pure reactions, but two smothering shots on the angle from Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott underlined his class. The way he handled that intimidating atmosphere at Bramall Lane earlier this season answered any questions about his temperament.
What we saw against Arsenal’s senior spearhead was a young keeper good enough to belong on such a prestigious stage.
4. Eddie Nketiah - Remember the name. Arsene Wenger had to bat away comparisons to Ian Wright after a stunning second half cameo from the 18-year-old forward, who now has the distinction of being the first Gunners’ goalscorer born after the Frenchman’s arrival in north London.
Nketiah injected some cunning into Arsenal’s laboured motions in and around the Norwich City penalty area. The first close range slot was the instincts of a pure finisher. The second demonstrated his athleticism to rise above a weary Timm Klose to head powerfully past Gunn.
Mitigation is fair enough on the central defender’s part after a defiant shift for the most part alongside Christoph Zimmermann. But City have started to look vulnerable again from set pieces in the last couple of games. They need to tighten up.
5. Unsung heroes - The most important people at the football club in the coming days are not the players or Farke. It will be City’s sports science and medical departments. Arsenal were not the only winners at the Emirates.
Derby County will have loved City toiling for an extra 30 minutes. The sight of James Maddison going off with a calf problem and Tom Trybull prone with cramp must be a huge cause for concern ahead of the Rams’ Championship visit.
City have scaled two peaks already this week. It is asking a lot to go again at Carrow Road.