Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s Premier League 2-0 defeat against West Ham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his West Ham verdict after the Canaries’ 2-0 Premier League loss.
1. Sobering reality
That sun-kissed exhibition of vibrant attacking football that swept Newcastle United aside in the first Premier League home game of Norwich City's season has since given way to the harsher realities of top flight life.
Against both Chelsea and now West Ham, City attempted to bravely engage in a contest of attacking verve and dash and came up short.
But for Tim Krul's late defiance the final scoreline may have more accurately reflected the Hammers' dominance.
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You can pause again and look at the respective financial disparities between the squads but that is the challenge City gleefully accepted with a Championship promotion win.
Daniel Farke displayed his pragmatic side early in his Norwich reign in a willingness to accept Norwich might not be able to impose their own template on rivals.
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It may need more surgical revision in the months ahead on the evidence of the last two league defeats.
2. On such moments?
There was less than three minutes between Sebastien Haller's lunging challenge on Christoph Zimmermann and the same player slotting Arthur Masuaku's ball inside the Norwich six yard box.
Masuaku had powered past a clearly labouring Zimmermann on a surge into the area to tee up his frontman.
Referee Tierney bizarrely opted not to discipline the Frenchman. At the very least it merited a yellow but on another day and with another official the reckless nature of his challenge may have produced the ultimate sanction.
Then this game may have tilted in Norwich's favour.
There was no disputing the Hammers ran out comfortable winners but the manner Krul led the protests, as Zimmermann lay prone on the turf, and Farke's frustrated body language in his technical area suggested City felt they were hard done by in a pivotal moment, with the game goalless.
3. Grunt as well as guile
Farke's room for manoeuvre was restricted somewhat with that injury exit for Zimmermann, which required Ibrahim Amadou to underline his versatility and slot in alongside Ben Godfrey at centre back.
But for the second consecutive weekend in the Premier League Tom Trybull and Moritz Leitner were second best. With time and space to get on the ball and set the tempo, the duo displayed against Newcastle they can influence games at the highest level.
But when the wind is blowing the other way, the lack of defensive protection afforded to City's backline is alarming. West Ham surged through at will too often in the wide open spaces of the London stadium.
With Amadou, and Alex Tettey in the mix, Farke may have to consider altering the blend in a key area of the park. Front foot football is desirable and commendable from Norwich. But you need the ball.
4. Raise your bat boys
It might not be filed as one of the most memorable of Krul or Teemu Pukki's 50 games in a Norwich City, yet the landmark should still be recognised.
Both have proved inspired free transfer arrivals at either end of the pitch; experienced characters, seasoned internationals with some big clubs on their CV. Both also played intrinsic roles in the club's Championship title-winning season.
They will also be crucial to the task of bucking the odds and surviving in the Premier League.
It is going to take more than the combined efforts of Krul and Pukki but there has already been plenty of early evidence they can be influential figures in the top flight.
The Finn's goal threat could make the difference against some of the clubs they will rightly feel are likely to harbouring the same objective. Krul is going to see plenty of action, given City's desire to attack. The one-handed parry to foil Manuel Lanzini in the 79th minute was pure class. His soothing presence behind a young backline in deeper waters should not be underestimated.
5. Time for a pause
Farke will firstly want his international contingent to return safe and sound. Secondly, his medical department must work over-time to ensure both Zimmermann and Hanley are fit for duty on the resumption of Premier League hostilities.
But it might also be an opportunity for the astute head coach and his closest advisors to pause and consider what has worked and what looks in need of refinement for the battles ahead.
Norwich have looked capable of creating chances and scoring goals but they are worryingly easy to penetrate across midfield areas, and that attacking adventure in wide channels exposes the centre backs when opponents counter with pace.
Against this level of opposition, it is as much about speed of thought as deed. But it is also about Farke sifting his resources to unearth for the right personnel and the balance to be residually obdurate without the ball, as well as progressive with it.