Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 win over Nott'm Forest
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Nottingham Forest verdict after Norwich City's Championship win at Carrow Road.
1. No pictures on the scorecard
You really have to marvel at the character in this Norwich collective. The quality is not in doubt. They have Premier League grade players peppered throughout Daniel Farke’s squad.
They have exciting young talent. Plus experience. But they also have a refusal to cower when the wind is not at their backs
After a composed first half capped by Jacob Sorensen’s first goal for the club, Nottingham Forest upped the ante and for the majority of the second period dictated the flow of a contest that eventually brought them an equaliser.
Anthony Knockaert’s drifting cross and the run of Miguel Guerrero left Michael McGovern in two minds as the ball curled inside his far post.
But within five minutes, Norwich had circled the wagons and got back in front. There was a huge slice of fortune in the manner Joe Worrall headed Emi Buendia’s shot past his own keeper. No matter.
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City then had to dig in and deal with a series of corners from Chris Hughton’s side.
Those 2,000 fans tried to haul the hosts over the line. But ultimately it came down to the grit and determination on the pitch. Quality and spirit. A potent combination.
2. 100 not out
You really do have to do a double take Max Aarons is still only 20 years old. To clock up 100 appearances for Norwich at such a tender age is a magnificent achievement.
Not to forget a Championship winner’s medal and a full season as first choice in the Premier League.
Or the not inconsiderable matter of becoming England’s first choice at under-21 level and the subject of a summer enquiry from Barcelona. That showreel would be more than enough for many players to cram into an entire career.
Aarons has done it in two years. You seriously doubt he clocks up another 100 appearances in green and yellow.
Irrespective of Norwich’s trajectory from here, Aarons appears to be heading to the very top. It is surely only a question of when one of the elite come knocking again on Stuart Webber’s door.
Here there was no fireworks in the same manner of his match-winning intervention against Sheffield Wednesday. A second half booking was not the way he wanted to mark his set piece occasion.
But a win and another three point haul was entirely fitting. He is a credit to himself and his club.
3. Solid citizen Zimbo
They say you are a better player when you are out of the side. Perhaps at least in a losing side. But Christoph Zimmermann has had to watch Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson forge a central defensive partnership which helped propel the Canaries to top spot. That will have done nothing to enhance his own personal reputation.
For a player who was a staple in the second part of the title-winning season at this level such inactivity and lack of starts must be tough to take.
Zimmermann’s Premier League experience, much like the rest of his team mates, was a sour affair defined by injury problems. Remember that delayed top flight debut which ended with a career-threatening foot injury at West Ham.
But Zimmermann on and off the park is a reliable, reassuring presence. Gibson’s calf injury has offered him a way back in for now.
Farke pointed out prior to this game his last start was a clean sheet win over Swansea.
No clean sheet this time but another victory. The big centre back will let no one down from here.
Farke may be a firm fan of blooding young players. But the City head coach must have loved scribbling the names Todd Cantwell, Jordan Hugill, Kenny McLean and Kieran Dowell onto his team sheet.
Such quality and experience on the Norwich bench underlined how deep the resource is when Farke has the vast majority of his troops fit and available.
Cantwell made his presence felt within moments of a second half arrival when he cut the ball back for Buendia to smack a shot headed past Brice Samba by Worrall. McLean was then introduced late on for some added ballast. Plus Alex Tettey. They were needed as well when the Reds tried to hit back a second time with a desperate late onslaught.
With Tim Krul and Lukas Rupp hopefully back for the festive swing, and Gibson and Przemyslaw Placheta set to be out less than a fortnight, Norwich now have to press the accelerator.
No doubt there will be more injuries to navigate but you would hope nothing on the scale of recent times.
5. Hard lines Hughton
Times are tough for Norwich’s former manager. A sixth winless game was not why he was recruited. At least the goal drought ended with Knockaert's intervention.
Farke was in no doubt prior to the game Hughton will turn the City Ground outfit into top six contenders.
But each winless affair increases the scrutiny and the degree of difficulty as clubs like Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth gather momentum with each passing fixture.
Hughton’s Carrow Road tenure ended on a sour note. His football turned off many fans and plenty of players under his stewardship. But he knows how to win promotion at this level after guiding both Newcastle and Brighton to the promised land.
He needs time and probably a season to turn around the fortunes of a club who came so close to the play-offs last season.
But the manner they had Norwich on the back foot in that second period illustrated again how fine the margins are in this Championship.