David Freezer: Six things you may have missed from Norwich City’s deserved defeat at Brighton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
After Norwich City’s fifth defeat in six Premier League games, David Freezer assesses what has to change if the Canaries are to revive their fortunes.
1 - Attacking woe really is a worry
For only the second time during Daniel Farke's reign, City failed to register a shot on target.
The only previous time was during a drab 0-0 at Preston as Farke's first season in charge drifted towards its conclusion, in April 2018.
Marco Stiepermann may have come close with a fine effort which hit the crossbar and Brighton may be a decent outfit - with Graham Potter adding style to the solid foundations laid by Chris Hughton - but that statistic summed up this ponderous attacking display.
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If Teemu Pukki keeps getting chances, he will keep scoring, that much the Finn has proved, but defensive woes and rapidly fading confidence has led to the midfield and defence getting deeper and deeper.
WhoScored.com show that 37pc of City's play is in their defensive third, a league high, and 39pc in the middle third, which is third most - leaving a paltry 22pc in the attacking third, which is the second lowest in the division.
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2 - Buendia may need a breather
We all know how highly City fans rate Emi Buendia but it may be time to remind the Argentine that he is not guaranteed a starting place.
To say the 22-year-old was wasteful at Brighton would be quite the understatement, constantly trying to do too much and running into trouble after plenty of tricky and vibrant work initially.
Eleven games of the season have passed now, we can't keep talking about lessons which need to be learned. If players are not adjusting well enough by this point, it suggests they will not.
I've written many hugely positive reviews of the talented and tenacious young midfielder, after a sublime eight goals and 13 assists in the Championship, yet he is trying to do too much at the moment, choosing the wrong options too often. Yet he remains the biggest creative threat the Canaries possess.
The dramatic strops and lack of clinical thought can be improved on though, if Buendia can just calm down and use his talent wisely.
3 - Away days becoming laborious
You have to feel for the away supporters at the moment, after a terrible return of just one goal in games outside of Norfolk so far this season.
That is including the cup loss at Crawley, with the only goal coming from Teemu Pukki at Liverpool on the opening night of the season, when Farke's team were 4-0 down.
To not even have a goal to cheer, when bad results are starting to pile up, makes it difficult to summon too much enthusiasm for fans - and the away atmospheres have started to reflect that.
Gone are the fun and games of the Championship. Instead it's five defeats and one loss from six Premier League games, conceding 12 goals in the process. If that tend cannot be reversed then the team of 2004-05 could have company as a City team to not win a top-flight game across a whole season.
For context, Alex Neil's team of 2015-16 had scored nine in their opening six away games, winning at Sunderland and drawing at Liverpool and West Ham.
4 - Krul form deserving of better
Of all the Premier League goalkeepers this season, only Bernd Leno of Arsenal has made more saves than Tim Krul - and the Dutchman missed two games due to injury.
Leno has 45 to his name and Krul 40, with some inspired stops - not to mention two penalty saves. His latest display included a vital block to deny Aaron Connolly and a superb reaction to punch a powerful Neal Maupay shot.
Mixed with the on-field leadership and organisation, it appears that the 31-year-old is rediscovering the form which had made him so popular at Newcastle before a serious knee injury.
Krul could clearly do a job for teams higher up the table and you could even argue he would be the most sought after player as things stand.
After City's faith allowed him to rebuild his career, it seems unimaginable that Krul would jump ship in January but his performance levels suggest he will be with a top-flight club next season, whatever happens.
5 - Passion is clear for all to see
The post-mortem had been launched within seconds of the final whistle at Brighton.
Alex Tettey was straight onto the pitch to moan in the direction of anyone who would listen - seemingly upset about the Seagulls' second goal, after a set-piece concession had swiftly followed him and Trybull being substituted.
There was Krul launching a furious tirade in the direction of Onel Hernandez late in the first half, for lazy defensive tracking. There was Kenny McLean and Jamal Lewis bickering after the first goal had gone in.
There is no way you can suggest that this group of City players do not care or that they are not trying.
Both goals and the overall display clearly hurt Farke's team. The post-match interviews with McLean and Max Aarons emphasised that further, the frustration etched on their faces. That passion must be harnessed and used as a power for good though, or harsh words will begin to hurt.
6 - Simple mistakes to cut out
Injuries to City's senior centre-back options may have led to this worrying crisis of confidence, yet too much of the pressure was self-inflicted on Saturday.
Christoph Zimmermann and Timm Klose's absence was not to blame for McLean's wayward pass letting Aaron Connolly in during just the second minute, for Lewis turning backwards into trouble and being robbed soon after, for Buendia not clearing from the edge of his own box, for Tettey misjudging a high ball, for Buendia trying to win a penalty rather than shoot.
Or you can look at Lewis turning his back on Martin Montoya's cross for the first goal, Hernandez and Josip Drmic watching on as Shane Duffy ran unopposed to score Brighton's second and more avoidable mistakes which tipped the balance in favour of the hosts.
Much of that may be down to confidence but too many basic errors will under-mine a team at any level, let alone the Premier League.