Melissa Rudd: Teemu Pukki and Joelinton - two strikers at different ends of the spectrum
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Afternoons like Saturday’s don’t come along often. In 23 years watching City I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen them dominate Premier League opposition from start to finish.
Even in the Paul Lambert era, Norwich played fantastic football and enjoyed some great results but rarely did they play their top flight opponents off the park from the first whistle. Saturday's victory may have been over a Newcastle team that offered very little, but don't let that take away from the magnitude of the performance.
Teemu Pukki continues to amaze supporters who have watched him for 12 months, but this game was a milestone in the Finn's career. By scoring a Premier League hat-trick he has announced himself on the biggest stage to those who might not have heard of him previously.
What made his opening goal so impressive was that it came after he had missed a much easier chance. That time he met Marco Stiepermann's ball into the box but dragged his first time finish wide of the far post. It was his only attempt out of seven that wasn't on target.
Pukki doesn't appear to suffer from the confidence issues that plague so many strikers across all levels of professional football, although Celtic fans who must be rubbing their eyes in disbelief at his exploits south of the border may beg to differ.
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How many times do we see a player miss a chance and then overthink the next one in front of goal? Take an extra touch, or snatch at it in haste? Pukki doesn't let missed opportunities affect either his decision-making or mentality.
Look no further than the opposite end of the same pitch for a prime example of the former. Newcastle forward Joelinton squandered a wonderful chance to put the visitors ahead when he peeled away from Grant Hanley, but put his free header wide from just six yards out.
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It was a chance the £40 million striker should have buried before the half hour mark, and his only other notable contributions to the game were a booking for a foul and getting dispossessed a total of five times...most notably by Pukki, who had sprinted almost the entire length of the pitch to win the ball back for his team.
He was substituted with 20 minutes to go after picking up a blow to the hip, but it was clear the Brazilian's confidence had also taken a bruising.
Newcastle's two most expensive signings, Joelinton was theoretically partnered with Miguel Almiron up front, but the Paraguayan repeatedly dropped deep in search of the ball, leaving his fellow frontman in splendid isolation. By contrast, free transfer Pukki was able to rely on academy product Todd Cantwell to provide two assists. It made a mockery of the notion that a club has to spend big to compete at this level.
Cantwell was everywhere on Saturday, making more key passes than anyone else on the pitch and linking up beautifully with Pukki throughout the afternoon.
Moritz Leitner dictated the game from midfield in his first Premier League start, and after watching Chelsea get picked apart in the second half of their draw against Leicester he could be crucial in getting a result on Saturday.
The German pulled all the strings against Newcastle, completing a league-high 95 passes in the process, and having 118 touches on the ball, almost double that of his opposite number Jonjo Shelvey.
Under Frank Lampard, Chelsea press far higher up the pitch and Mason Mount's goal against Leicester on Sunday was a direct result of that approach. Norwich will have to be wary of that, especially when passing it across the back four, but so far the west London club's downfall has been their vulnerability in transition from attack to defence.
Chelsea were punished on the counter-attack three times in their 4-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening weekend, and they were exposed again on Sunday when former City hero James Maddison created a host of chances to help his side earn a point at Stamford Bridge.
Norwich have new heroes now and despite their efforts being downplayed by some critics due to the poor calibre of opposition they faced in Newcastle, a repeat performance will give Chelsea plenty to ponder in two days' time.