WIGAN (A); THE REVIEW

15/04/19

Slowly, slowly City creep towards the finishing line. Another valuable point, that could have been more and could easily have been less, ensures we continue to inch our way to the Premier League. Jon Punt joined the early-rising hordes for the long trek north.

Random star performer

Wigan's high press was a constant thorn in City's side, and there were times when they weren't sufficiently able to play through the lines in order to mount the type of attacks which would have seen them prosper. Krul was often forced to go long as the Latics' 4-2-3-1 almost became a 4-2-4, swarming Zimmermann and Godfrey whenever they could and not really allowing the full backs to get forward.

Cool heads were required in those moments, and perhaps the coolest was Max Aarons. Still in the midst of his debut season, the youngster was always looking for the right pass, but to protect possession whenever he could. It's testament to his character and Farke's ability to drill into his youth products the exact way Norwich want to play football.

Moment of the match

Pukki's trademark strike was the one people will remember in years to come, especially if this point becomes as precious as it may well appear, given the Blades failed to win yet again.

However, just for keeping City in the game at 1-0, it has to be Tim Krul's point blank save. With Leon Clarke having taken full advantage of the space afforded to him as Norwich pressed forward, he intelligently ran into the right area, jinked past the final defender and was bearing down on Krul's goal. Game over in many situations. Krul used his ample frame to make it almost impossible to pass though. This was as an important stop as they come.

It was also one of Krul's more accomplished performances this term, and he epitomised the determination and passion this squad possess, either when darting off to collect a ball that had gone out of play, or celebrating with the crowd when the equaliser finally came.

Farke watch

Sticking with Cantwell was probably the wrong call, but the entirely obvious one given he'd really done nothing wrong in his previous outing. Farke will always stay with a side if they've given him what he wanted last time out, and so it was to pass.

Unfortunately Todd looked marginally off the pace, absolutely excusable due to his lack of game time, and Norwich's play looked a little more stilted without the thrust and pressing of Buendia.

Farke had to find a formula to unlock the door without Emi and he duly delivered following the introduction of not one, but THREE substitutes before the 75 minute mark. Critics will say it came 10 minutes too late, and they have a semblance of an argument, yet Norwich conjured up enough presentable chances in the dying embers of the match to snatch all three points.

Biggest positive to take

Even when City aren't quite clicking, they still carry a goal threat and a potent one at that. Had Pukki enjoyed a bit more luck, or gambled on Stiepermann's deflected cross late in the second half, then there would have been at least parity at the half time interval. Few would have then backed against City to go on and complete the job.

Weekend whinge

As much as there's been talk of the players not feeling the nerves, it's hard to see how that's not a factor as the team edge closer towards the (P) beside their name. Balls that would usually have been trapped with confidence were suddenly just out of reach. Passes that would have split defences or played through a press became less measured. City became a little more lacklustre for it. And yet we almost prevailed. Up the Nodge.

Atmosphere rating

There's something a little bit special about taking 5,300 fans on a near 500 mile round trip for a midday kick off in a place like Wigan, regardless of the discounted ticket prices or the fact the Easter holidays afforded the next generation a lie in the morning after.

It was visually stunning, and that started on the A17 early doors. As the dawn was breaking in dreary Lincolnshire, it wasn't the sun painting the scene orange, but a steady band of Sanders Coaches providing the colour and vibrancy. Once everyone was in place in their seats, a sea of scarves greeted the players as they strode onto the pitch. It was as good a display of colour as any of the flags we've put on at home fixtures. The anticipation was building. This was going to be a day and atmosphere to savour.

And then it wasn't. There was certainly a sense of the crowd waiting to be entertained rather than getting behind the teams from minute one. There was also the sense that some of City's following were aboard a bandwagon they'd managed to jump on from their armchair, evidenced by virtue of the fact the guy behind me was insistent Farke needed to bring "Vilic" on and that "Steepman" was rubbish.

Yet the fact the Yellow Army managed to mobilise that many of its troops to travel that kind of distance is still an excellent feat. Next time if they can bring some noise it could be magical.

Summary

Wigan's excellence in their press or City's nerves in possession were probably the stand out factors which resulted in a fairly turgid contest. Yet for the last two games opposition managers or fans have singled out their performances as the best of their respective seasons. We have to expect that now City are the benchmark, top of the league and ready to be crowned champions when they start to assert their prowess on matches once more.

The weekend's results proved that Sheffield United at least are feeling the same heat and the cushion we've built to third place remaining intact means it's just a question of when, not if.

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