Stiepermann’s winner shows that one moment is enough in football

Marco Stiepermann's goal was the difference for Norwich City against Swansea City
Picture: Paul Che

Marco Stiepermann's goal was the difference for Norwich City against Swansea City Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Your Posts allows you to voice your opinions on the big sporting stories – Samuel Seaman, a football journalism student at the University of Derby and Norwich City fan, takes a look at the numbers behind the Canaries’ win over Swansea.

Emi Buendia and Marco Stiepermann lost the ball 24 times between them against Swansea on Saturday, and yet one set the other up for the winning goal.

While perfect combinations and intricate interplay served the Canaries well two years ago, Daniel Farke has realised they can’t be relied upon when his side isn’t at its fluid best. There’s been an increased focus this season on taking risks in possession, with the obvious assumption that if you try a game-changing through-ball 15 times in one match you’re bound to hit the spot at least once.

Norwich are having more shots per game than in 2018-19 (18.6 vs 15.15), attempting more crosses (22.3 vs 15.6) and risking more fouls (12.9 vs 11.7). The worrying fact is that they’re actually scoring fewer goals (1.18 vs 2.02) than they were in their Championship winning season, although they’re scoring them at better times.

Given the choice, Farke would’ve won 1-0 away at both Bolton and Wigan, rather than one 4-0 victory and one 1-1 draw as was the case in 2018-19. The same number of points were won for the late 2-1 win over Wycombe and the comprehensive defeat of Bristol City, despite the number of under-whelmed Canaries fans following the former. We also got that beautiful Vrancic moment which was way more fun than any simple win.

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Clever passing moves are always easy when a team has won eight games on the bounce and top the table. They’re much harder when a new squad is just starting to learn how to play together, so it’s a good job one of Xavi Quintilla’s numerous crosses found Teemu Pukki’s head in the scrappy 2-2 draw with Preston.

The Spaniard’s near-constant desire to put the ball in the box is the perfect example of how City are playing the percentages this season. Many have highlighted the fact that with Pukki in the box, the directness of this approach is unlikely to routinely result in goals. This is ignoring the number of corners it wins, rebounds it creates and the times it finds Max Aarons on the other side of the box when it drifts over City heads.

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The same can be applied to Stiepermann’s constant desire to play the final pass, and the number of times Buendia brings the ball forward 25 yards before being tackled.

All three of the goals against Bristol City were perfect examples of how taking risks in possession can work. Jacob Sorensen and Stiepermann both had easier passes on when they took the chance of playing the ball through to Pukki, and Ben Gibson would only be able to replicate his inch-perfect ball for Buendia given numerous attempts.

Add to that Kenny McLean’s crudely deflected equaliser against Brentford, two penalties missed by opposition and the fact that Norwich have scored five match-winners in the final 10 minutes of games this season, and some may presume that luck can take the credit.

Farke will claim it’s a new approach, and that it’s working very well.

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