Six things you might have missed from City’s encouraging draw at Leicester
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Following a positive 1-1 draw at Leicester, David Freezer assesses the state of play for Norwich City with six things you might have missed from this weekend’s action.
1 - Get some ice on that toe, Teemu
Daniel Farke has preached calm about a possible toe fracture for star striker Teemu Pukki, after the striker's remarkable run of goal-scoring continued.
The Finland star's ninth of the Premier League season was a trademark finish, taking his tally to 16 in 23 games for club and country.
That leaves the 29-year-old on the verge of his 40th goal for City already, which will draw him level in 34th in the club's all-time goals list with Phil Boyer, Justin Fashanu and Paul McVeigh.
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A good spot from @OptaJoe on Twitter as well that City's star is the top scorer in the top four divisions in England since the start of last season, with 38 league goals, one better off than Ipswich striker James Norwood and Hull forward Jarrod Bowen.
The sight of a Jordan Rhodes hat-trick for Sheffield Wednesday may have been a timely reminder ahead of January, with Dennis Srbeny currently in chief support if Pukki's toe is a problem, with Josip Drmic already injured.
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2 - Buendia is learning his lesson
That Pukki goal was teed up in a fashion which will have been so familiar for City fans - thanks to a through-ball from Emi Buendia.
Beyond the relief of seeing the Canaries leading away from home for just the second time this season, the sight of that link being reestablished provided an added feeling of relief and satisfaction.
The Argentine repeated the trick in the second half but Pukki's chest control just let him down and Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu could make a crucial block.
Just four players have more than his five assists in the Premier League now but that creative ability wasn't in doubt, it was his defensive maturity which brought three games on the bench.
On this occasion there was far more protection for Max Aarons though, attempting more tackles (five) than any of the City players according to WhoScored.com. It's been a sticky spell for a 22-year-old which knocked his spirit but there are signs Buendia is recovering his poise.
3 - Moving in the right direction
If only Daniel Farke's team could repel crosses coming into their box...
Yet another set-piece goal conceded denied City more points, taking it to five of their last six goals which have come from a corner or a cross coming into their box.
Overall however, their defensive record is moving in the right direction, with the goals per game average coming down to 2.1.
After the horrendous 5-1 home defeat to Aston Villa at the peak of the injury crisis, that was up at 2.6 per game with eight matches played, putting the Canaries on course to concede a Premier League record 99 goals if it had continued at that very alarming rate.
That has now dropped to a more palatable 79, should the rate continue at around 2.1 per game, which clearly needs to keep dropping to be in with a chance of survival. Organisation and aerial ability have improved with the return of Christoph Zimmermann but there is much work still to be done.
4 - No room for an old pals act
The hugs and handshakes that James Maddison shared with his former team-mates showed the high regard in which he is held - but there was no room for friendship during the game.
Late in the first half the new England international went down like he'd been shot after being caught slightly by a flailing Alex Tettey hand in midfield - and took clear exception to no punishment following from the referee.
Daniel Farke and his team looked rather unimpressed by that behaviour and even more so when he charged into a tackle on Tettey, with his blood still pumping, prompting angry words.
While he now has to act in Leicester's best interests, of course, it seemed poor form from a player who had the honour of lifting the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy as recently as 2018.
His superb corner for the Foxes' goal reminded City fans of his top-level ability though and there was a warm reception from the away end at full-time.
5 - Petulance has to be stopped
Talking of petulance, there were a couple of similarly unwise incidents in the yellow ranks on Saturday.
Todd Cantwell and Buendia were both booked during the course of this very positive away day, for allowing their emotions to boil over.
Cantwell was furious when Kelechi Iheanacho had tried to attack as City expected to receive the ball back from a throw, having put the ball out with Buendia down hurt.
The melee which followed was unacceptable and an FA charge wouldn't be at all surprising, with VAR opting not to send off the City ace - who then went close to a second yellow with a risky sliding tackle on Maddison in the second half.
For Buendia it was his angry reaction to conceding a foul as Ben Chilwell attacked in the second half, punching the ball away in frustration as the free-kick was given on the edge of the box. Whether that was the correct decision or not, such behaviour could prove so costly amid the fine margins of a survival battle.
6 - New plan needed to beat rivals
Holding a rampant Leicester to a draw on their own turf still brought a frustrating edge for Canaries fans.
After becoming the first team to prevent the Foxes from winning since runaway leaders Liverpool in early October, there is good cause for survival hopes rising.
Yet Farke had said ahead of the game that his players found it more comfortable against the better teams, who play more similar attacking styles. That is why many of us thought City could build on their title success.
Yet with costly defeats to Aston Villa, Watford and Southampton alongside the better performances against Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton, it seems a different approach is needed against direct rivals.
Wolves are likely to pose a similar threat to Leicester on Saturday, offering a real chance to continue finding consistency. Carrow Road is in need of some festive cheer too, after four defeats and a draw since that epic win over the champions in September.