Stoke (H) – The ACN Review

14/02/21

Back to winning ways in some style. Here's Maddie Mackenzie on the Emi and Teemu show.....

Biggest Positive 

Imagine if I didn’t say the return of Emi Buendía, with his goal, assist, and earning of a penalty. There is no player in the league better than Emi, no player able to have such an influence on this Norwich side. It isn’t a coincidence that the breaking of the goal drought coincided with his return to the team: even if you look past his sublime moments of individual skill, he forces everyone around him to up their own game. What else is there to say about Buendía that hasn’t already been said? He is one of the most technically gifted players to ever wear the yellow shirt and long may he stay at Carrow Road.

Weekend whinge

Our footballing overlords often seem to have the decision making skills of a drunk hamster, and in few areas of the sport is this clearer than the issue of concussion substitutes. Poor Oliver Skipp took a nasty hit to the head and, looking like he was on the wrong side of a night out on Prince of Wales Road, had to be gently lowered to the floor by Krul before being checked over. Head injuries are horrible. Anyone who’s had even a minor head one is familiar with the sick to your stomach feeling, the waves of dizziness, the jolt of terror that comes in the minutes after the initial contact. Following Pukki’s penalty Skipp still seemed unsure as to what day of the week it was so finally departed the pitch, smiling and protesting as he went. That football is stuck with the ‘walk it off, son’ mindset is bordering on barbaric – there is a constant fear that the longer things remain like this, the closer we’re veering to a player paying a terrible price.

Moment of the match

Norwich Twitter didn’t really know how to handle the presence of Giannoulis. One minute he was looking good, as if he’d found his feet and settled into one the notoriously toughest leagues in the world. Then he plays a sloppy pass and it’s a goal and why didn’t Farke start Sorensen and where’s Xavi Quintilla, and oh Giannoulis has gone and assisted a goal for Emi. Right. It was a slightly hectic three minutes, with quote tweets and corrections flooding the timeline faster than Płacheta breaks down the wing. Has there ever been a faster footballing redemption?

Farke Watch

The lineup was expected – Mario Vrancic once again occupied the 10, something I’ve had my doubts about but which largely worked well. Barring the aforementioned Skipp issue the subs were well timed.

Rupp came on in the 71st minute to shore up a somewhat floundering defence, and further subs seemed more a case of resting legs for Wednesday (which when you’re 4-1 up in the 80th minute is fair enough). All in all a fairly relaxed showing from Farke, so I’ll finish this section with a reminder that I bloody love him.

Random Star Performer

It wasn’t a game short of strong performances, so having already mentioned three of the best players on the pitch I’ll give this one to Pukki. He’s been having a pretty rough time of it lately, having to play without Marco Stiepermann and finding himself the focal point for criticism surrounding Norwich’s issues in front of goal: to see his patience rewarded today was pleasing. His first was a typical Pukki goal, a delightful pass from Buendía finished off oh so easily, with his second a penalty that sent Angus Gunn the wrong way. More than anyone, Pukki thrives on the presence of Buendía, and their link up today was particularly satisfying after the disappointing performance of the past few matches.

Summary

Well, that blew the cobwebs away. Watching Norwich over recent weeks has almost felt like a chore, something you’re doing out of a sense of duty rather than expecting to get any real joy out of it. Not this time. From the moment Mario Vrančić’s backheel (which was very nearly the moment of the match, filthy as it was) found Todd Cantwell there was an expectation that this would be good, that Norwich would finally dish out the thrashing they’ve been threatening since October, and it could not have come at a better time. Confidence refreshed for both fans and players, the coming weeks seem a little less daunting.

 

Comments

  1. Kevin O'Connor says:

    Another excellent summary. Thank you Maddie and ACN. Along with yesterday’s quicker, slicker performance you’ve put a bit of bounce in my step.

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