Six things you might have missed from City's draw at Newcastle

Teemu Pukki of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at St.

Teemu Pukki wanted a quick restart after his equaliser for Norwich at Newcastle - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

After a frustrating 1-1 draw at Newcastle, David Freezer takes a look at six things you might have missed as Norwich City stretched their unbeaten run to four games.

1 - Season-high stats 

Playing against 10 men for 80 minutes has bumped up City’s seasonal statistics and emphasised that an opportunity for a hugely important win was wasted. 

There were season-highs for possession (69pc), attempts at goal (16), attempts on target (six), attempted passes (569) and pass completion (87pc) at St James’ Park. 

Going four unbeaten in the top tier for the first time since February 2013 may have preserved positivity but even with a sloppy performance on a slippery surface, the Canaries had enough opportunities to win. 

The psychological swing of the home team having to sit deep wasn’t dealt with and nobody was able to fill the void after the creativity and penetration of Milot Rashica had been snatched away by a minor groin strain. 

Had Pierre Lees-Melou just shown the composure that fellow substitute Dimitris Giannoulis had done to set up the equaliser, he would have snatched an injury-time winner, but that would have papered over the cracks of a disjointed display. 

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2 - Clear and obvious? 

The video assistant referee is intended to prevent clear and obvious errors but that still comes down to individual interpretation of the laws. 

The header that clearly struck Billy Gilmour’s high arm was flying towards goal and was a fair decision for a penalty, with the referee changing his mind after watching the incident again. 

In the first half there was also a handball, when a Christos Tzolis header just clipped Fabian Schar’s hand from similarly close quarters when the ball was heading towards goal, with his arm low but away from his body. 

In real time it was barely noticeable. When seen on slow-motion replays it was far clearer. Ultimately, it seems the VAR officials deemed it was not a clear and obvious mistake from the referee. 

Schar also survived a handball call in the second half as he challenged Adam Idah, but it wasn’t clear if the ball hit his arm or Idah’s foot, with his arm close to his body as he fell to the floor. 

3 - Pukki pushes on 

Teemu Pukki of Norwich scores his sides 1st goal during the Premier League match at St. James's Park

Teemu Pukki's brilliant volley found the top corner at St James' Park - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Another game, another goal and another position climbed for Teemu Pukki among City’s greatest goal-scorers. 

The Finn’s sumptuous strike was his 72nd for Norwich, moving him level with 1950s star Ralph Hunt in seventh place on the club’s all-time list. 

Pukki is still averaging under a goal every two matches (1.95), from his 141 appearances and is now just six short of the legendary Grant Holt. If he managed that in his next 26 games then he will have managed it in fewer matches than Holt (168) as well. 

His third goal in four games takes him to five for the season and eight in 20 for club and country in total.  

He edges a goal clear of Efan Ekoku among City’s Premier League sharp-shooters and is four adrift of Mark Robins in third place for the club – but is still 10 short of the club’s all-time top 10 in the top flight. 

4 – Lack of threat 

Josh Sargent of Norwich in action during the Premier League match at St. James's Park, Newcastle
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Josh Sargent's endeavour went unrewarded again - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Josh Sargent drilled a cross through the Newcastle box and beyond everyone for a throw on the far side. His unimpressed head coach turned almost instantly to tell Idah he was coming on. 

The American’s hard work and tenacious protection of Max Aarons in the first half had continued his reputation as a grafter while playing on the right wing in the first half. 

Yet when City switched to a 4-4-2 diamond at the break and Sargent was pushed up higher alongside Pukki, he enjoyed little joy as a striker. 

His big chance had slipped past midway through the first half when a slick passing move allowed Tzolis to drive a low cross to the back post, only for Jamal Lewis to react quicker and prevent Sargent from turning in to an unguarded net. 

It’s clear how much effort the 21-year-old is putting in but he is offering little attacking threat in conjunction. 

5 - Rusty Tzolis 

Christos Tzolis of Norwich has a shot on goal during the Premier League match at St. James's Park, N

Christos Tzolis was taken off at half-time - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Christos Tzolis was making just his second Premier League start and was in the City starting line-up for the first time in over two months. 

The 19-year-old struggled to get into the game during the early stages and was taken off at the break as part of a tactical switch that didn’t really pay off. The Greek may have been sacrificed too soon. 

His persistence had created the handball penalty shout and an inviting cross wasn’t seized on by Sargent. He also had a shot deflected behind and an injury-time effort which drifted over – all in the last 15 minutes of the half. 

He was lacking match sharpness but there were signs of his rhythm returning. Smith’s substitutions have proved largely successful during the early stages of his reign but it would be difficult to argue that Lees-Melou offered more of an attacking threat against the Magpies’ 10 men. 

6 - Another step up 

Ben Gibson of Norwich waves to the traveling Norwich fans at the end of the Premier League match at

Ben Gibson thanks the 1,200 City fans after full-time at Newcastle - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City didn’t manage to go three games unbeaten in the top flight under Daniel Farke but have already managed that under Smith. 

The current squad are also already just one point short of the paltry six achieved away from home during 2019-20 – although four of those from this season were under Farke. 

It was also the first time Norwich have come from behind to earn an away point in the Premier League since Russell Martin’s leveller at Liverpool in September 2015, falling behind in 30 of the club’s 42 top-flight away games since that day at Anfield. 

Newcastle may have been down to 10 men but that early adversity merely united the home faithful, remaining patient despite plenty of poor play during Eddie Howe’s first game in the home dugout. 

The roars of 49,000 supporters certainly applied the pressure but Pukki’s moment of quality at least avoided an angry end to the honeymoon for the new boss.