Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-0 Premier League away win at Everton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Everton verdict after the Canaries’ Premier League WIN
1. Bravo, City
Whatever Daniel Farke and his players did in the international break, they need to bottle it and drink liberally. A first win in eight since lowering Manchester City's colours, a first away league win this season and a second away clean sheet.
Everton could find no way through a backline reinforced by the return of the totemic Christoph Zimmermann and at the other end a counter-attacking plan that worked perfectly as Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny slotted in the second half.
The celebrations at the final whistle spoke volumes.
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First those red-shirted players embraced Zimmermann, who betrayed no visible signs of a man making his first appearance since August.
Then they headed en masse to the packed away end before Farke himself indulged in some long overdue choreography. There was an added fist pump or two into the bargain. This was big. There is plenty of hard work ahead, but City showed there are signs of life.
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2. The enforcers
The modest Zimmermann would be the first to downplay his role in this landmark away win.
But the reassurance he brought to a young backline, in particular the pressure that visibly seemed to lift from Ben Godfrey's shoulders as the senior partner returned, combined to ensure when Everton did threaten they met with stiff resistance.
Tim Krul played his part as well but City deserved their win and the clean sheet.
Norwich were feted for their brilliant attacking pomp on that Championship title march but the importance of Zimmermann and Godfrey on that promotion surge should never be overlooked.
The manner Godfrey routinely threw his body in the way only to be hauled to his feet by his compadre underlined the close bond between the two.
They were the beating heart of this resilient Norwich victory. City's chances of pulling off a survival mission will be greatly enhanced if Farke can keep the two fit and healthy.
3. Let battle commence
With Zimmermann restored to the roster, Farke now has the opportunity to move both Alex Tettey and Ibrahim Amadou into his midfield mix.
There may well be occasions in the future when the head coach opts for the defensive muscle and protection of the duo in stereo, but on Merseyside it was Tettey who got the nod alongside Tom Trybull.
That is understandable given Tettey is one of the few outfield players in this squad with genuine Premier League experience.
Farke alluded to the lack of that particular commodity in the build up, particularly valuable during a prolonged downturn in results.
But Amadou clearly has the physique and the athleticism, plus the pedigree given he played over 30 times for Sevilla last season, to really make a mark on this Premier League quest.
Tettey's nous to sense danger in front of Norwich's back four was evident throughout at Goodison Park. But he will have to maintain those levels with Amadou waiting in the wings.
4. Message received and understood
Zimmermann's inclusion on a Norwich team sheet that dropped around 2pm at Goodison Park was not entirely unexpected, after Farke hailed his man of steel's powers of recovery on Friday.
Far more eye-catching was the omission of Emi Buendia. A player with the vision and intelligence to really blossom in the more refined atmosphere of the Premier League.
Buendia's statistics suggest he can flourish in the big time.
But the underlying trend, much like Norwich's sparse productivity overall since that epic win over Manchester City, has been less than encouraging.
That glaring error in possession so early in a crucial game against Watford - following on from a similar lack of personal responsibility against Aston Villa - was the tipping point for Farke.
Although ever the diplomat, Farke sought to frame Buendia's absence in terms of Cantwell's impressive work during the international break on the training pitches of Colney in his post-match interviews.
That was a far cry from flagging Buendia's 'nursery' mistake against the Hornets. Well, a demotion from his starting line up might not exactly constitute the naughty step, but the Argentine responded well in a late cameo capped by the burst that led to Srbeny sealing the win.
5. Middle man McLean
Kenny McLean was the main beneficiary of Buendia's demotion. Farke deployed the Scottish international as chief support to Teemu Pukki, flanked by Cantwell and Onel Hernandez.
Speak to the Scot, or view again his showreel at Aberdeen, and it is clear a more advanced attacking midfield role is his favourite posting.
But understandably the Championship title-winning form of both Buendia and especially Marco Stiepermann limited McLean's chances of being cast in that role.
There was some probing deliveries at Goodison - notably the one dropped on the unmarked Sam Byram's head seven yards out - and an aerial presence that added a different dimension to recent games.
There was also an end to Pukki's isolation. Something to build on for McLean and Norwich.