Lack of pace is costing Norwich City dear, says Dixon

Lack of pace at both ends of the pitch has been Norwich City’s biggest problem in the opening weeks of the Premier League season, according to BBC pundit Lee Dixon.

The former Arsenal full-back believes the Canaries’ defence has struggled to cope with the speed of their top-flight opposition – and that their own forwards lack the “extra zip” of the kind provided by West Bromwich Albion’s Peter Odemwingie in Sunday’s fixture at Carrow Road.

Dixon, quoted in the BBC Football Tactics Blog, said: “Norwich played quite well but ultimately West Brom looked a lot more effective with Peter Odemwingie up front.

“The Norwich defence could not really cope with him in first half.

“He pulled centre-backs Leon Barnett and Ritchie De Laet all over the place and Norwich did not have anyone in a similar vein.

“I’ve watched Norwich a couple of times. Forwards Chris Martin and Grant Holt are both energetic and run the channels but they lack a bit of extra zip that someone like Odemwingie possesses.

“His pace affects the opposition’s back four because it gets them thinking of the threat in behind, whereas teams playing Norwich are not necessarily going to get hurt the same way.

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“It just looked like they lacked a bit of pace to stretch the game at times.”

Dixon admitted the penalty awarded to Albion, when Steve Morison challenged Steven Reid, was harsh but felt there was still a lesson for the Canaries to learn.

“I thought Reid made a meal of it and went down very easily but it’s not a coincidence that they have given four penalties away,” said Dixon.

“The keeper got sent off the other week and those through-balls into that area where Odemwingie scored from lead to desperate tackles on the edge of the box. It’s a discipline thing - knowing when to tackle and when to sit off.

“Players are aware that forwards are going to ground more easily these days. If I was playing, that would be in my mind, so it must be in theirs.

“As a defender, you have to try to keep them out of the box, which was always at the forefront of our minds when we were defending at Arsenal, because any sort of foul is not as punishing.”

Dixon said City needed to translate some good approach play into goals and tighten up at the back.

“Certainly in the games I’ve seen so far, they’ve shown signs they can knock ball around well.

“They can get it wide and cause teams problems,” he said.

“But ultimately they’ve got to score more goals and keep them out at the other end. At the moment, they are losing that fight.”