Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s spirited 2-1 Premier League defeat against Tottenham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Tottenham verdict after the Canaries’ 2-1 Premier League defeat
1. Sad, slow, trudge
Given the only currency that matters now is points rather than performance it will matter little in the final analysis. But this was as good as Norwich have managed for the majority of their away games in the Premier League this season.
The Canaries simply did not deserve to lose the game. They carved out just as many chances, if not more, than Jose Mourinho's men. Deservedly got back on level terms then lost to a deflected shot from Dele Alli against the body of Christoph Zimmermann that spiralled over Tim Krul and plummeted to earth for Heung-Min Son to twist the knife.
Moments later at the opposite end, Lukas Rupp's goalbound effort brushed a Tottenham defender and veered wide with Hugo Lloris rooted to his line.
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The manner Mourinho launched himself into the air to celebrate Son's match winner told you what a close shave this was. His counterpart, Daniel Farke, took the acclaim of the travelling support before heading to the tunnel.
It was a slow, sad trudge. Plaudits are cold consolation now.
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2. Youthful naivety
Farke attached that label to describe Ben Godfrey's rush of blood that earned him a red card against Bournemouth. He also went on to say this was Norwich's way where the culture is to back not berate players.
Few would disagree watching such fresh talent on this thrilling journey in the past couple of seasons.
But Tottenham's first half goal owed as much to Todd Cantwell's error in attempting to play out in a dangerous area as it did to the speed of Serge Aurier's near post cross or the timing of Alli's run in front of Zimmermann.
All the more galling given moments before Cantwell was too slow to react to another ball in behind for Aurier, which Grant Hanley cut out at the same near post area of his penalty box.
That is what you get with youth. Inconsistency from game to game and minute to minute.
Cantwell is well ahead of the curve in his breakthrough season.
But it was another demonstration of how unforgiving the Premier League can be.
3. How good was Max?
Very. In a word. Given all that incessant talk of reported Tottenham transfer interest if the watching Spurs fans were in any doubt how good this young man is they should wonder no longer.
Aarons was vibrant, full of energy and as the Norwich second haf penalty showed, a constant threat. Ryan Sessegnon was forced to haul Aarons down with a mistimed tackle that still took a eternity for VAR to analyse.
Sessegnon is another highly-prized young English talent who moved for big money. Aarons decisively edged their personal duel.
The jury may be preparing to deliver their verdict over these coming few weeks on whether Norwich will be back in the Premier League, but Aarons certainly looked like he belonged on this grandest of stages.
4. Hard act to follow
Rupp got the nod to replace Emi Buendia. A thankless task it must be said given the Argentine's superbly consistent displays since his return to the ranks. Buendia, as Farke was happy to concede on the eve of this battle, is as near to irreplaceable as you are going to get in the current Norwich squad.
Rupp was far more disciplined and willing to track back to support Aarons. He was also neat and tidy in possession for the most part and may have earned himself a goal on his full debut late on.
But he is not Buendia. City's medical staff need to work their magic over these next 10 days or so.
Any hope of pulling off a great escape rests as much at Buendia's talented feet as it does Teemu Pukki's. He is that important.
5. Cup respite?
Farke may not have chosen an FA Cup date tre to a buoyant Burnley, who followed a win over Leicester with another impressive victory at Manchester United.
The City chief will no doubt ring the changes, as you suspect Sean Dyche may do as well, but really it affords the Norwich boss a chance to rest some of his influential personnel for the resumption of the Premier League survival quest.
City started the night where they finished it; effectively six points from safety given West Ham's thumping defeat at Leicester.
As Tim Krul said after Bournemouth, the immediate objective is to hang in, and take this fight all the way.
That means trying to remain in touch with clubs who harbour loftier ambitions and who may start to feel the pressure and weight of expectation should Norwich be able to stay in the race through February.