City boss Smith pulls no punches after 5-0 Arsenal rout
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Dean Smith pulled no punches with his Norwich City side by accusing them of dropping their standards after a 5-0 Boxing Day mauling against Arsenal.
City fired blanks once more and made a catalogue of errors ruthlessly punished by the Gunners, who inflicted the heaviest home defeat of the season on the rock-bottom Canaries.
Smith was again missing key personnel through injury or Covid-related absence in Tim Krul’s case, but wants the right response on Tuesday at Crystal Palace.
“We have to be better than that, and we are better than that. Unfortunately the standards have dropped off massively since Manchester United,” said the City boss. “Yes, there are reasons for that but I am not here to make excuses. At the end of the day Arsenal made better decisions than we did.
“The first half against Aston Villa was poor but two games ago we went toe to toe with Manchester United. We had fans out of their seats. This was as flat as we have been, and littered with unforced errors. You look at the first goal. It is there for a centre half to clear down the line and he doesn’t.
"The ball ends up on the other side and they have a left footer who we allow to come inside on his strongest foot.
"He did that twice in the game. We give away a soft penalty when we don’t need to make a challenge and there was a soft free kick for the fifth. It was never a free kick, but they take it quickly and we don’t adapt.”
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City were booed off at half-time and full time by a section of home supporters, with many heading for the exits early as Arsenal sealed the rout.
“We want them to keep the faith and give them the belief they need. But we also have to give them something back,” said Smith. “We have not scored a goal in four games. We have had some big chances and we have not taken them. That is something we have to be better at. We know that.
“We can get into good areas on the pitch but we haven’t got ourselves into those positions in these last two league games.
"We are not adrift but performances like that drain the confidence out of everybody. It is my job to make sure it doesn’t and turn this around as quickly as we can.
"From my experience in the game players know when they have played well and when they haven’t. Now we have to do something about it.”