David Freezer: Six things you might have missed following Norwich City’s defeat at Crystal Palace
PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:07 30 September 2019
After another away defeat, David Freezer takes a closer look at Norwich City’s difficult top-flight situation with seven matches of the campaign completed.
1 - Ruthless finishing required
City beat the champions 3-2 with three shots on target, 31 percent of possession and by making just 314 passes.
At Palace they also had three shots on target, enjoyed 55pc of possession and made 200 more passes than in that glorious triumph. The old adage that football is a 'funny old game' really does ring true sometimes.
It's difficult for confidence not to dip after back-to-back losses but Daniel Farke's squad cannot be written off as relegation candidates just because of two away defeats this early in the season, particularly amid their never-ending injury crisis.
Had they imploded to heavy defeats then inevitably character would have come into question, but they were competitive at both Burnley and at Selhurst Park.
Todd Cantwell's two wasted chances exemplified the issue in attack: ruthlessness. Both were fine opportunities that were finished with a lack of conviction and that has to be nipped in the bud quickly to bring the smiles back.
2 - Defensive balance is key focus
Ibrahim Amadou's all-action display during the win over Manchester City was hailed as a superb effort but the loanee has since shown why he's spent much of his career in midfield.
The summer signing has put in some good work but has made costly mistakes in successive games.
With a recognised centre-back in Grant Hanley on the bench and seemingly back to fitness after his own groin problem, a switch looks sensible ahead of Saturday's visit of Aston Villa.
Amadou looks to have all the physical facets required for him to become the screen of the City defence this season. Hanley has struggled to get going as well but the Canaries really need their captain to step up to the plate this weekend.
A no-nonsense approach is needed, as a clean sheet will be crucial. Liverpool and MK Dons are the only other teams in the country yet to draw this season - but a point would be stabilising amid this wretched injury crisis.
3 - Away form illustrates the step up
The away end was sold-out once again by City fans this weekend but those hardy travelling supporters have still only had Teemu Pukki's consolation strike at Liverpool on the opening night to celebrate so far.
Norwich have lost four away games on the spin under Farke before, during his opening six months in charge - five if an extra-time cup loss at Arsenal is included.
Once again emphasising the step up to the Premier League, Alex Neil's team of 2015-16 also found it tough to reproduce their outstanding away form after promotion.
That Canaries vintage endured six straight away defeats between December and March, as part of a quite awful run of 10 losses in 11, with the one exception being that rare win at Manchester United, oddly.
After the international break it's a journey down to Bournemouth, who have only beaten Everton at home so far this season, being held to draws by Sheffield United and West Ham.
4 - Godfrey is evolving as a leader
There's nothing like a head bandage to really give a centre-back's performance that added emphasis.
Ben Godfrey put in a display deserving of the captain's armband he was sporting though, full of determination and leadership against some lively Palace attackers.
The 21-year-old was named as captain from the start of a City match for the first time but isn't quite the youngest ever in the league, as that's held by Dave Watson, who skippered the Canaries for the first time at 19.
Godfrey is developing into a leader, barking instructions and always offering for the ball - so much so that he was tied with Moritz Leitner as the player to complete the most accurate passes at Selhurst Park, on 70.
Thankfully the cut above his left eye, suffered in a routine collision with Jordan Ayew in the first half, doesn't look too serious. He's still learning as a centre-back but Godfrey continues to show the character that Farke needs in his defensive ranks.
5 - Injury woe to prompt changes
Another week, another set of injury issues for the Canaries to contend with.
This time it's Jamal Lewis and Ralf Fahrmann looking poised for a stint in the already busy treatment room at Colney.
Left-back Lewis did at least manage to play on for the final 30 minutes but looked in discomfort after initially challenging Jordan Ayew. If scans do rule the youngster out for a while then Philip Heise may finally get a league chance, although Max Aarons has shown he is capable of playing on the left previously, so Sam Byram could return alternatively.
Then it's on to the keepers, with Ralf Fahrmann at least a doubt at this stage after being forced off with the groin problem which had made him a doubt for the trip to Palace.
With Tim Krul out until next month with a back injury, that could mean one of academy duo Nick Hayes, 20, or Archie Mair, 19, being cover for Michael McGovern against Villa on Saturday.
6 - You've got to keep the faith
I'm going to finish with my best Jon Bon Jovi karaoke effort here - and add my voice to those calling for City fans to keep the faith.
On the back of five away defeats on the spin, including a drab League Cup loss to a League Two team, that's far easier said than done.
But for Farke's team to continue their success of last season, the need to keep the strongest starting XI in tact was always going to be so important in being able to compete in the top flight.
For the Canaries to now be without Tim Krul, Timm Klose, Onel Hernandez, Christoph Zimmermann, Tom Trybull, Mario Vrancic - and now even potentially Jamal Lewis as well - has robbed Farke of that chance to build on the foundations laid in the Championship.
City already had their limited financial strength to contend with but now Farke is fighting with one arm tied behind his back. This squad will need Carrow Road to be rocking again when Aston Villa arrive on Saturday.
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