David Freezer: Six things you might have missed during City’s timely draw at Bournemouth
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After an encouraging 0-0 Premier League draw at Bournemouth, David Freezer takes a look at six of the key Norwich City talking points.
1 - City rose to aerial challenge
The Canaries had the lowest average for aerial duels won in the Premier League ahead of the international break - at 10.8 per game.
At Bournemouth they won 24, a high for the season and the most since the 3-0 win over Ipswich in February, with Kenny McLean (six) and Ibrahim Amadou (five) the key men in the air.
A sole statistic cannot tell the whole story of the game but that improvement does reflect an acknowledgment from Daniel Farke that his team had to improve defensively, earning the most welcome of clean sheets.
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And this was not a case of 'parking the bus', it probably never will be under Farke - City still had 53pc of possession and few Cherries fans could have complained if the visitors had won.
Premier League shut-outs are not easy to come by though, it was just a third in 27 top-flight Canaries games, and when almost half of the game is played with two emergency centre-backs, it should be fully savoured.
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2 - Tettey so crucial as a leader
So often during his Norwich City career it's felt like Alex Tettey hasn't been given the credit he deserves - that was not the case this weekend.
It felt like there was a wide appreciation that City's longest serving current player had risen to the challenge when he was most needed - making his 213th appearance since that 2012 arrival from Rennes for £2m.
This was a display of true leadership from Tettey, barking orders, organising, filling the holes left after an attack had broken down and generally bringing calm as a defensive midfield anchor.
To then be called into action in central defence and get through so much work to keep hold of that clean sheet meant there was no one who could question Tettey's quality on this occasion.
If the former Norway international makes another 20 appearances this season, he will rise above Martin Peters into 50th in City's all-time appearances list. If he can stay fit, that seems highly likely to happen.
3 - Amadou can focus on the job
Ibrahim Amadou knows he is now a Premier League centre-back, at least until December.
Perhaps that degree of certainty, as Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann recover, will allow the Sevilla loanee to really focus fully on the challenge - one he really rose to on the south coast.
Amadou made more clearances (13), more interceptions (three) and more defensive headers (six) than any player on the pitch, all with a successful pass rate of 94 percent.
Those stats point to the committed attitude displayed by Amadou throughout, both with Ben Godfrey and Tettey alongside him, showing a desperation to keep the hosts away from his goal.
He was still grateful to Tim Krul's crucial save in the 21st minute though, after being sucked to the ball and not reading Dominic Solanke's movement. Curbing those midfield instincts must be the focus for the former Lille man but his display deserves real praise.
4 - Maturity and desire from Jamal
It was shaping up to be a difficult day for Jamal Lewis when the left-back was booked in the 30th minute after a second late tackle on Harry Wilson.
However, the caution seemed to bring the best out of the 21-year-old and from then he was not only careful in his defensive work, but in the thick of City's attacking progress down the left flank.
Both Lewis and Max Aarons appeared to be taking fewer risks in possession, clearing long if they needed to, but still provided plenty of support to the attackers.
There was a scare five minutes before the break when Lewis went down in pain and needing treatment, leading to Farke exploding in fury as his players didn't put the ball out of play with the Northern Ireland ace out of action and lost possession.
Those 11 international caps appear to have prepared the academy product well for top-level football and the maturity shown to still play an important role while on a booking was very impressive.
5 - Hernandez return is a big boost
The 1,300 travelling fans were clearly happy to see Onel Hernandez back in the squad after his knee injury.
Singing his name throughout the afternoon, the Cuban finally made his second Premier League appearance with 10 minutes remaining - immediately reminding those supporters of the different option he offers: pace.
The winger's urgency took him down the wing - in front of those away fans - within three minutes, cutting back to Buendia, who teed up Tom Trybull for a 20-yard shot which flew just wide.
Then deep into injury-time Hernadnez skipped past Adam Smith, only for the ball to be poked behind as Teemu Pukki shaped to shoot.
It was only the start of the comeback and that 15-minute burst left him looking tired, yet it should not be forgotten just how big a role he played in last season's title success. Eight goals and 11 assists from 42 Championship games is why those travelling fans were so excited to see Hernandez back in action.
6 - The goal which was celebrated
There was a goal for City fans to celebrate at the Vitality Stadium.
Unfortunately it came during half-time, when a relay race was held around the pitch, with the home team's young fans comfortably winning.
However, honourably, the final leg was a mismatch so the Cherries fan jogged to allow the young girl wearing a Norwich kit to catch him up, before they passed their ball to two adult fans waiting on the halfway line.
From there it was a race to goal, with the first to score past the waiting mascot in goal to be crowned the winner - with the City fan victorious, to a huge cheer from the laughing away fans.
Sadly that was the only goal to celebrate and the only goal scored in the last four games remains Josip Drmic's consolation during the 5-1 loss to Aston Villa. Clearly that must improve but amid the injury woes, a clean sheet and an away point more than made up for the continued wait for a second away goal celebration of the season.