Emi back in form, Stiepi at his free flowing best, a new dimension to City's play and still some work to do defensively. It's all here in Nick Hayhoe and Jon Punt's review of a fine performance at Ashton Gate...
Wow what an attacking performance. Wow. The first time we’ve properly clicked into top gear, and just reminded us all how good it looks when we do. A few matches ago City were displaying an inability to take advantage of some great starts they’ve been having, yet here some exquisite and intricate play could have seen Norwich 4 or 5 goals up by half time.
Marco Stiepermann’s inclusion in the XI surprised a few, but during the first half he was spraying the ball around like peak Andrea Pirlo. After this performance maybe he has the no 10 position locked down for the next four weeks at least.
The pass for Pukki’s first was absolutely *chef kiss* (he’s back baby!) and immediately called us back to the great sunshine lands of two seasons ago. When we were all there in Barclay, singing City’s going up and the scum are going down, roaring until our throats hurt and worshipping those brilliant, brilliant bastards…sigh.
What Stiepi’s presence also seems to do is give Teemu Pukki license to make the kind of runs which saw him hit the form of his life. Their chemistry could again be key to a successful campaign.
Sidenote – that Emi goal. Phwoar. Keep him motivated and in Norfolk until May and the sky really is the limit.
To paraphrase a Mike Walker quote from the 1992-93 season, “who cares how many goals we concede if we score more than the opposition?” Well, this does become an issue when you end up not scoring enough goals at the other end, as Walker himself can attest when his Norwich side disintegrated against Blackburn during that particular season.
Again, this Norwich side has a habit of being shaky defensively – especially when the opposition gets a good chunk of the ball during a particular spell or, as we all know by now, from set pieces. It feels like Norwich go to sleep, or just switch off for a prolonged period.
It overshadows a lot of the really good defensive work Norwich are doing. Often at set pieces City look more well drilled, while aerially the duo of Hanley and Gibson offers more assurance than any time under Farke. The issue however is perhaps the legacy of that record breaking run of defeats, there is still some fragility and it might be present until a few more wins are on the board.
Still, you can forgive a few defensive blips when you have the talents and first touch of Emiliano Buendía Stati in your team.
Moment of the Match
Some absolutely stellar shithousery from Lord Timothy Michael Krul of the Hague saw Nahki Wells decide to call his bluff and completely fuck up a panenka in such a laughably horrendous way, you could actually here the incredulous screams of the home crowd even though no one was there. This was extremely fortunate in retrospect, because it’s highly plausible Norwich may have fallen apart if that had gone in. Krul, who also made a superb save at 2-1 in the first half, again showing why he will save us a huge amount of points this year.
Big calls made prior to kick-off. Sorensen retained his place, which was of surprise to many given Bali Mumba’s inclusion in the matchday squad. Płacheta also got the nod, along with the aforementioned Stiepermann, all of which raised a few eyebrows pre-match. It was designed to give City another dimension and for large portions of the match it really worked. Some of the zip had returned to Norwich’s play, maybe Farke is getting close to his magic formula.
Some of that formula was also the very deliberate ploy to be more direct in getting the ball into the forward line when the opportunity allowed. In fact, all three goals were the result of three longer yet accurate balls designed to get in behind the Robins’ defence, the pick of which was a sparkling through ball from Sorensen. Norwich diversifying the way in which they are able to score goals might just put a few more opponents on the back foot in the weeks to come. A good day for the gaffer.
Random Star Performer
In a match where City offered so much going forward, the presence of Grant Hanley could easily be overlooked. In the air he was majestic, most of the time dealing ably with the threat of Chris Martin and later on the imposing figure of Diedhiou. Given he’s come in for criticism following a couple of lapses in concentration which have led to concessions, the Scot is quietly going about regaining his match sharpness and top form. There’s still more to come from the skipper.
A sensational attacking performance against proper play-off contenders Bristol City, who, before kick-off, remember, had the exact same record as Norwich. This was one of those “we’re up and running” games that, just like two years ago, has come off a slightly shaky start where it feels that Norwich will now (lockdowns permitting) push on and challenge for the top two spots. NOTHING CAN GO WRONG NOW. Maybe.
Nick Hayhoe is continuing to explore the history of Norwich City in 100 of the best, craziest and most famous goals we've ever scored. Today, we are at the Den on Sunday 22 January, 1989. Or, probably more accurately, sat in front of the TV watching Norwich at the Den on Sunday 22 January 1989...