Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s plucky 1-0 Premier League defeat against Liverpool
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Liverpool verdict after the Canaries’ spirited 1-0 Premier League defeat
1. Brave but bowed
What can you say? Norwich were resolute, resilient and for one long chip from Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane's venomous finish the equal of a team who are on course to romp the Premier League. To add to their European Cup and World Club Cup titles.
That was the calibre of the opposition the men in green and yellow attempted to overcome.
But there was 126 minutes of game time between Divock Origi's fourth at Anfield on the opening night and Mane's 78th minute strike at Carrow Road. Just ponder on that.
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The reaction at the final whistle of this blustery, rain-lashed affair said everything. Henderson punched the air in relief, the home fans applauded their boys from the pitch.
It was spontaneous and sustained. Daniel Farke's name rang out as he took his leave. Liverpool showed the heart of a champion to grind out another win on their relentless march to a first domestic crown in nearly three decades. But City made their fans proud.
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2. Cruel on Tim
Given Holland's international boss, Ronald Koeman, was an interested spectator Norwich's number one Tim Krul would have wanted a big statement performance. The experienced stopper made it clear earlier in the season reclaiming his place in the national squad was a long term goal.
Koeman may well have taken a short hop from Holland to run the rule over compatriots Virgil van Dijk and Gio Wijnaldum. But he cannot have failed to be impressed by Krul's reassurance.
There was also a wonderful double stop to foil first Mo Salah and then Naby Keita. He could do nothing about the ferocity of Mane's matchwinner but against the best of the best Krul must have given Koeman some food for thought.
In a season where Norwich may come up short, no-one in Norfolk would surely begrudge him a personal accolade.
3. Mayor to Major McLean
Wherever Norwich find themselves playing league football next season, Kenny McLean should be part of the plan.
The Scottish international may not carry the goalscoring thrust of a Todd Cantwell or the creative potency of Emi Buendia in his pomp, but he is incrementally emerging as a key cog in Farke's midfield.
In these type of games against the elite, witness Manchester City earlier in the season, McLean's sheer running power and athleticism can help get City up the pitch and give his back four a breather. But he is perhaps underrated on the ball, with a willingness to take it in tight spaces and the passing range to find players in a yellow shirt.
It was harder going in the second half, with Liverpool upping the intensity. But to not look out of place against either the Citizens or the Reds for the most part is a signal Norwich have a player who in time may be ranked as another of the more astute pieces of recruitment from Farke and Stuart Webber.
4. Fine margins
Liverpool will feel justice was served, given their overwhelming dominance of territory and possession. Norwich simply were unable to fashion enough opportunities at the opposite end.
But there was a golden chance for Lukas Rupp, who seemingly opted to try and roll in Teemu Pukki with Alisson to beat.
The VAR officials may have had something to say about that, given Rupp was right on the shoulder of the last Liverpool defender.
But there would have been no controversy had Alex Tettey's thunderous hit not smacked the base of Alisson's left hand post and ricocheted back into play.
The Brazilian was beaten but survived. What a story that would have been for Tettey fresh from agreeing a new one year deal.
For Norwich to prevail against seismic odds they needed those marginal moments to drop in their favour. It was not to be.
5. No more free hits
To take City's head coach by his own words, the outcome of Liverpool's visit was never going to define the campaign from here.
It is the '11 games' commencing with the visit to Wolves this coming weekend that need to propel Norwich into a position where the final weekend trip to Manchester City carries some tangible meaning.
That still looks an incredibly tall orde.
But there really has been enough circumstantial evidence, if not the points, since perhaps the away draw at Leicester City in December to suggest they have enough guile, enough resolution and hopefully enough attacking threat to prolong this quest to pull off Farke's 'little miracle'.