Paddy's Pointers: Canaries 1-1 Coventry City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
1. Sore. Very sore
Norwich were literally stoppage time from a quite remarkable win, given the graveness of the injury situation that led Daniel Farke to name Marco Stiepermann up front, and a substitutes’ roster three players light.
Not just that, but take Christoph Zimmermann out of the equation and there was not a league appearance between the other five development prospects.
Farke did not make a substitution until the 85th minute when Zimmermann was introduced. Then his second change only after Max Biamou had equalised for Coventry in the 89th minute. Max Aarons hobbling away after what looked a worrying shin injury in trying to cut out the cross from Ryan Giles that eventually led to the Sky Blues’ leveller.
Norwich looked to have managed the situation. A point in such circumstances, a tenth unbeaten game, must have felt at the final whistle like scant consolation. Albeit Coventry were incensed the referee adjudged Ben Wilson’s challenge on Przemyslaw Placheta a first half penalty.
Honours even. But much like Tim Krul’s injury exit at Stoke, the story of this game is likely to be the extent of Aarons’ injury.
- 1 Farke reveals Buendia concerns and fitness updates on Pukki and Krul after 2-1 Cardiff win
- 2 City's Giannoulis move enters the end game
- 3 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
- 4 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 2-1 Cardiff win
- 5 No Pukki no problem for Canaries as they move seven points clear at the top
- 6 'As good as I've seen him!' - City fans laud Cantwell performance
- 7 Paddy Davitt verdict: Relentless City operating on a different level
- 8 STARTING XIs: Pukki missing for City as Barden starts at Cardiff
- 9 MATCHDAY LIVE: Norwich City complete their double over Cardiff
- 10 City edging closer to deal for Giannoulis
2. Have you ever?
The sight of Aarons requiring support either side of him from City’s physios to make the five minute hobble, from the corner of the South Stand and River End to the mouth of the tunnel, was somehow fitting given the 13 players Farke had unavailable prior to kick off.
A return to his boyhood club Luton looks to be off the agenda already. It may be a few days before any swelling recedes and a full assessment can be made of how long the England Under-21 international is likely to be absent. Farke's post-match confirmation it was a bang to the shin rather than any ligament damage to the left ankle may be a cause for optimism.
In the past week Norwich have lost Tim Krul, Teemu Pukki, the suspended Emi Buendia and now in all probability Aarons.
A quartet of absolutely key players if Norwich aim to bounce back at the first attempt. The first three should be back in harness relatively quickly. Buendia is likely to come back for the midweek trip to Kenilworth Road.
But if Aarons is ruled out for any length of time, then the three man defensive formation and wing backs that finished this game must come into Farke’s thoughts. It really is a case of last man standing. One can only hope his departure from the stadium on crutches, with the lower part of his left leg in a protective boot, was precautionary.
3. In Michael we trust
Farke and his team mates certainly have no doubts the Northern Irish international can step in and cushion the blow of no Krul for the next three weeks or so.
Comparisons are wide of the mark and unfair on the experienced McGovern. Krul is not only the best keeper on the books, he is the best in this division.
Not only his all round keeping but his huge influence on this group.
There was an unfortunate slip in the warm up when McGovern was practising his diagonal kicking towards the full back positions.
A rueful look at the turf and some gardening may have done nothing to calm the nerves.
More pertinently, there was a heart-stopping spill from what should have been a routine Amadou Bakayoko looping header just past the half hour mark. But Coventry players in the vicinity had turned their backs expecting McGovern to claim. Mark Robins was furious. That was a momentary lapse.
The parry from a deflected Callum O’Hare shot arrowing inside his near post was the highlight. He was left with little chance when the ball dropped inside his six yard box for Biamou to strike a late leveller. That denied him a clean sheet. It was not to be.
4. Right place, right time Mario
Mario Vrancic has had to bide his time for another audition in the number 10 role. Farke clearly feels that is now the perfect position for a player who has the intelligence and the class to flourish, with the right protection around him.
Vrancic was pitched in at Brentford earlier this season in a game that was clearly not suited to showcase the Bosnian’s skills.
Brentford pressed and harried and dominated across midfield for long spells of that 1-1 draw.
Here with Coventry happy to drop into a defensive shape that afforded Norwich plenty of the ball there was more chance for Vrancic to find those pockets of space to probe for vulnerability. A second half cut back from the byline was begging to be finished.
In truth, there was no fireworks but you would want anyone else in this City squad on a penalty, when Wilson was adjudged to have fouled Placheta.
Vrancic coolly lifted his spot kick down the centre with Wilson diving forlornly to his right.
Depending on the fitness of Pukki in the days ahead, he may get another chance to really stake a claim at Luton if Stiepermann is to lead the line. He needs to grasp every opportunity.
5. Martin on the move
The attacking midfielder would not admit it but he might feel a growing injury list is a real opportunity to play catch up.
Martin looked very close to the conversation for a place in the starting XI when he was impressing on the pre-season tour of Germany.
A back complaint held up his progress but an eye-catching full league debut at Stoke City in midweek was followed up by another demonstration he looks at home in these surroundings.
Martin plays with a confidence and dare one say a swagger which on the evidence of the past few days is a commodity Farke should harness.
He was constantly looking for work infield. His vision and deft touch freed Stiepermann for an excellent first half chance. He could also have notched when his movement bought space to test Wilson on the penalty spot.
There was perhaps a touch of fortune his mistimed challenge on Fankaty Dabo did not earn a yellow card.
Farke said after that Potters’ bow he has to develop in certain areas of his game. But the raw material is all there.