Six things you might have missed after City's victory over Luton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Following a seventh successive Championship victory, David Freezer takes a look at six key talking points from Norwich City's 3-0 home win over Luton Town.
1 – Classy Cantwell
The magnificent form of Emi Buendia has taken much of the acclaim during the seven-game winning streak since the Argentine returned from suspension but Norfolk’s own creative maestro has also reemphasised his importance.
After two games out with calf problems the ‘Dereham Deco’ returned to action in style against Luton, setting up Teemu Pukki’s opener and smashing home the third goal to put the game to bed.
The 23-year-old took his tally for the campaign to four goals and four assists from 23 appearances with three of each coming during the 12 matches since the turn of the year.
Cantwell was also involved in the build-up to Pukki’s second, freed the Finn for a fine chance which was denied by Hatters keeper Simon Sluga and was an energetic presence throughout.
Maintain this form and, as he is still eligible for England U21 duty, an international recall later this month could still be possible.
- 1 Webber reveals he turned down 'massive job' to stay at City
- 2 PRESSER LIVE: City v Watford - Hanley, Pukki, Cantwell injury doubts
- 3 Spurs loanee Skipp discusses his future and potential of Canaries return
- 4 'Blown away' - Gibson reveals how City wooed him for Premier League push
- 5 'I rate him. He's a fantastic player' - Farke open to Skipp return
- 6 City lose Giannoulis appeal; three-game ban stands
- 7 Pressure on Hornets for title-hunting City
- 8 City players greeted by special messages from fan groups
- 9 'Good riddance' - Norwich fans react to European Super League plans
- 10 Farke holds fire on rebel league
2 – Ruthless Pukki
The satisfying sound of Teemu Pukki finding the top corner, after clever control of Cantwell’s pass into the box, set the tone for City’s ruthless display.
The 30-year-old is now just five goals short of moving joint 10th in the club’s all-time top scorers list, which would move him level with Ted McDougall, Ron Davies and Jimmy Hill on 66.
To break the 20-goal barrier again, thanks to resurgent form of nine goals in seven games, has been immensely impressive. Somehow he has still managed just one hat-trick for Norwich though, against Newcastle in the Premier League in August 2019.
He has scored a brace and not found the hat-trick goal on 12 occasions, so perhaps 13 will prove lucky for the Finland star.
Were it not for two fine Sluga saves, one from a spectacular back-heeled improvisation which was dropping under the bar, he could have had his treble before half-time against the Hatters.
3 - How many more?
Such a productive surge even has some more confident City fans trying to work out when promotion could be sealed.
Well, the average for teams finishing second during the past 10 Championship seasons was 88 points, so four wins from the remaining 11 would almost certainly seal the deal.
With the next six games against teams all currently in the bottom half of the table, it would seem the chance to get the job done soon is within reach, if the leaders can maintain their relentless form and mental strength.
The average for sixth in the past 10 seasons was 74, so we can safely say a play-off place is secure. For the title? The average for first place has been 93.
Just one team in the past decade have had more than 76 points after 35 games, with Leicester on 80 before going on to finish on a brilliant 102 as champions in 2014.
4 - Record equalled
Daniel Farke’s class of 2020-21 equalled a club record on Saturday, going a 17th home game without defeat in all competitions.
It’s the first time that has happened since a run of 17 Carrow Road games unbeaten came to an end in September 1986. This season, it’s still just the one home defeat overall, the 1-0 loss to Derby in October – when Wayne Rooney scored the final goal of his career with a brilliant late free-kick.
However, there is still a long way to go to match Ron Saunders’ team of 1971-72, which went unbeaten for 31 league games on home soil, stretching the entirety of that legendary title-winning season and then the first 10 matches of the club’s first top-flight campaign.
With promotion looking so likely and home games against Watford, Bournemouth and Reading still to come, getting anywhere near that record would be quite the feat in itself.
5 – More to follow?
The level of current success means there are plenty more club records to be aimed for as well.
Sitting on 76 points is seven better than the title winners of 2019 and nine more than the champions of 2004 at the same stage, with those two campaigns sharing the record total of 94 points in the second tier.
Sealing a fifth clean sheet in six matches also racked up a 15th shutout of the Championship campaign. Six more from the final 11 games are required to break that record, with 20 kept by the team of 1974-75 as they bounced back to the top flight.
The fewest conceded was 36 during 1971-72, so no more than 10 can be let in for that record. There are more and hopefully we’ll be re-visiting those facts and figures soon but even being able to mention them at this stage emphasises the consistency that has been managed.
6 – Dimi's delight
It may have been a bracing introduction to life in England for Dimitris Giannoulis but during his nine matches the Canaries have only conceded two goals.
One of those was his horrible error during the 4-1 win over Stoke but the left-back is steadily building influence at City, with only Kenny McLean (95) having more than his 94 touches of the ball against Luton.
With his strength and height a clear asset in defensive terms, the Greek international’s surging runs and intelligent positioning are helping him settle.
The hope is that there is more to come from a potential £6million permanent signing as well, as shown when he was skinned by Bryan Mbeumo when it was still 0-0 during the midweek win over Brentford.
He may well be in for some throw-in practise at Colney this week though, with his head coach turning the air blue after an attempt in the second half brought a foul throw.