Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' assured 2-0 Championship win against Wycombe
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Wycombe verdict after Norwich City's 2-0 Championship win.
1. Forget comparisons. Just savour this Norwich City vintage
Daniel Farke was asked on Friday at his pre-match media if this current Canaries’ collective is better than the squad who swept to the Championship title two seasons ago.
Many of the same actors remain, of course, but Farke wisely opted to dismiss the opportunity to pass public judgement.
There is no doubt the squad who surged to the title before were set up to attack, attack, attack. This time around there is a harder defensive edge and a large dollop of pragmatism pushing them to what appears the same Premier League destination. A 13th league shutout at Adams Park equalled the previous promotion campaign, with the run in barely under way.
This was superb game management from a group of players who appear to have pushed through that testing mini blip that culminated in a defeat to Swansea.
They largely kept Wycombe’s robust approach at arm’s length and eventually landed two jabs at the other end. They had plenty of other chances to add to their improving goal difference. But this was another demonstration to the rest why they are a cut above the Championship chasers.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Dowell stunner puts City on cusp of promotion
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' spirited 1-0 Championship win against Derby County
- 3 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 4 Premier League here we come for City chief Farke
- 5 'You get relegated playing the Norwich way' - Old boy Bruce on Magpies' sorry plight
- 6 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 1-0 Derby County win
- 7 Dowell the difference at Derby as City close on promotion
- 8 'Champagne on ice' - City set for Carrow Road celebration next week
- 9 Farke on Canaries records, Rooney and respecting the Rams
- 10 Spud Thornhill: Early days, but can City break that promotion record?
2. Tunnel vision
Farke’s assertion he is not bothered what the league table states at this stage is a perfect message to send to Norwich’s fans and players. But human nature would suggest they know every twist and turn of what is happening in the rear view mirror.
After Watford and Swansea both stumbled again on Saturday this was a huge opportunity to press the accelerator.
To deliver in such composed fashion indicates how at ease within the Norwich dressing room they are setting such a frenetic pace. Brentford wobbled when they briefly deposed them. Swansea have now started to leak oil at an alarming rate.
When the dust settles, there will be plenty of time to analyse the factors behind what increasingly feels like a coronation. But in the toughest league there is, to maintain this level of consistency deserves to be lauded. It really does feel with each passing win and polished performance Norwich sense this is a battle between their own expectations, rather than casting any nervous glances over their shoulders.
3. Leading candidate
Now Tottenham’s fans will not be able to hi-jack the club’s player-of-the-year voting after some tweaks to the eligibility, the rest might stand a chance against Olly Skipp.
In all seriousness, the captain should at the very least be in the conversation, even if the temptation is to favour some of the more attacking options.
Those periodic injury absences appear behind Grant Hanley. Hopefully it leads not only back to the Premier League for his club but a place in Scotland’s plans for the European Championships. Hanley has been so consistent and underlined his value switching to the left flank in the recent absence of Ben Gibson.
Here he had the type of muscular duel against Wycombe frontman Uche Ikpeazu that was a throwback to yesteryear. With Wycombe looking to hit the powerful frontman at every opportunity, it was a raw boned collision with no quarter asked or given. Hanley gave as good as he got. Much like he has done for the majority of a season when he has underlined what a key figure he is in this Norwich backline.
4. Not all about the headlines for Emi
Farke has talked recently about Buendia’s selfless attitude and his unstinting work ethic. It is easier to catch the eye with the brilliance of his work in possession, or to marvel at the impressive tally of goals and assists, and his intrinsic importance to Norwich as a creative force.
There was a sumptuous glancing header which thumped the bar and rebounded back into play prior to the interval that would have earned another round of headlines. The inevitable assist for Teemu Pukki duly arrived, but Buendia was also willing to get back behind the ball and offer another barrier in front of his back four. It is the unseen, unheralded side of his game.
It was crucial at times when Wanderers pounded away trying to probe for any weakness in a more robust, physical approach. That is not Buendia’s game but he headed, tackled and closed down when required.
It landed him another booking for one mistimed attempt to funnel back into Norwich’s defensive shape. It almost brought him an unlikely goal when he harried David Stockdale into a ricocheted clearance that veered wide of the Wycombe keeper’s goal.
There are well documented aspects of his craft that still need to be smoothed out to fulfil his full potential. But his work without the ball should also be added to the positive column.
5. Brentford blockbuster?
Not really. The Bees' visit to Carrow Road later this week is far from a winner-takes-all, peek behind the fingers type of affair. Norwich have a seven-point cushion to their closest challengers. Even more insurance to those clubs chasing down one of the automatic promotion spots.
The onus is on Brentford to try and force the pace in Norfolk.
The reverse fixture was a tight affair with Kenny McLean earning a point that on balance might have been harsh on the hosts.
But that underlines even if Norwich do not hit the heights they have an obdurate streak to grind out results. What will be fascinating is how Farke approaches the task, and the mindset of his players.
The pressure is most definitely on the visitors and that should make for a cracking contest.
Norwich came up short perhaps in their most recent shoot out against one of their direct rivals in that self-inflicted loss to Swansea. You can be sure they do not want a repeat. From here, it is about offering no sliver of encouragement to the rest.