Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 4-0 Championship cruise against QPR
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his QPR verdict after the Canaries’ 4-0 Championship romp
1. ’We’re going to win the league’
Norwich City’s support bellowed out their verdict in the closing seconds. It would be hard to argue anything can stop that prophecy now. Never mind promotion, the bar has been raised to clinching the title. An eighth consecutive league win from an eighth unchanged line up. That is a phenomenal surge of consistency.
QPR were dire, 2-0 down after 12 minutes and fortunate to escape with only a four goal hammering.
Norwich were composed, cohesive and far superior. There was only one sour interlude when Emi Buendia was dismissed for a frustrated lunge in the second period. But the repercussions of that rashness can wait for another day.
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Daniel Farke took the acclaim of his adoring public at the final whistle.
The home fans responded to his urgings. It really does feel like the most special of seasons is entering the final lap.
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2. Red mist
Buendia’s red card challenge on Josh Scowen was a serious blot on what had been another stirring cameo.
Now he will definitely miss Reading’s midweek visit. There was clearly a boiling frustration at another shift where opponents had singled him out for special treatment. Either by fair means or foul. But taking matters into his own hands was immature and naive. Whether he should have even been on the park, rather than with his feet up, after his match-winning display by that stage is a moot point.
A close range finish swept home put City up early and then two, for him, routine assists took his personal tally to eight league goals and 11 assists in a Championship debut campaign which must have exceeded every expectation of Farke and Stuart Webber.
Buendia’s brand of midfield artistry looks tailor made for the Premier League. The 22-year-old Argentine will not look out of place in more exalted company.
But as we saw in his final act, he also has areas of his game that need work.
3. Never in doubt
Four matches without a goal for club, plus two more for his country on Euro2020 qualifying duty, hardly merited talk of a drought for Teemu Pukki.
But given the rich seam of productivity that had gone before it was inevitable a fallow period would stick out as an anomaly. Farke was convinced it would only be a matter of time before he returned to the scoresheet. His 25th of the Championship season was one of his easiest.
Toni Leistner and Luke Freeman coughed up possession to Buendia who rolled in the Finnish sensation to coolly slot beyond Joe Lumley. The second goal to seal this win was coolness personified, controlling Tom Trybull’s raking pass before guiding a rising shot into the roof of Lumley’s net for his 26th league strike.
There was certainly no outward trace in Pukki’s body language on the park a barren spurt was playing on his mind. Farke has spoken of his temperament as much as his goalscoring prowess at various stages this campaign.
It would be fitting if he ended the weekend named the Championship player-of-the-season at the Football League awards. This was a timely nudge to the judging panel.
4. What have you got?
Norwich delivered again in the Championship promotion race when they had to. This time around they got their blow in first, after responding in kind to whatever Leeds or Sheffield United had managed over the previous two match weekends.
City extended their lead over the third-placed Blades to a mammoth 10 points, ahead of what looks a tricky assignment at Alex Neil’s Preston. Leeds may also not get things all their own way at Birmingham, in another 3pm kick off.
But frankly, that feels like a sideshow now. Norwich have been imperious when you might have started to sense the growing expectancy starting to weigh heavy.
Not a bit of it. All that tension and pressure is now firmly on the two Yorkshire clubs, who appear to bee scrapping it out for the right to accompany Norwich to the big time.
5. Crucial Krul
City’s Dutch number one would be the first to admit it has not been all plain sailing since stepping into the shadow cast by Angus Gunn this season. That is the life of a number one when a glaring error is more often than not likely to end with the ball in the back of his own net.
But it should no longer need either Farke or Webber to launch staunch public defences of just how important Krul is to this inexperienced squad and vastly inexperienced backline.
But a minute before Pukki made it 3-0 in the first half, there was a vital full length stop to firstly claw out and then hold onto Angel Rangel’s goalbound hit in the first real moment of alarm.
There was another goal line save in the second period to thwart Darnell Furlong.
That underlined his concentration levels, and also his contribution in a one-sided affair. Let’s gloss over the ball that squirmed momentarily through his legs before he re-gathered.
Krul may leave the headlines to others in this squad, but his value to a season that is hurtling towards Premier League promotion should not be underestimated.