It was a difficult afternoon in SE25.
Palace’s first goal came from the penalty spot, courtesy of an unnecessary foul from stand-in centre back, Ibrahim Amadou. James McArthur had his back to goal after Ben Godfrey had blocked his initial shot, but before McArthur could have a second attempt, Amadou bought him to the ground.
The Eagles’ penalty expert, Luka Milivojevic duly dispatched, leathering the ball into the top corner.
Norwich found themselves behind in a game away from home shortly after kick-off, again. There is no hiding from the fact City concede goals in the early stages of games away from Carrow Road.
Liverpool stuck three past City in the opening half-hour, West Ham were a goal to the good within the first 30 minutes, Burnley found themselves 2-0 up in just 15 minutes and Saturday was no different with Milivojevic’s penalty hitting the back of the net after just 21 minutes.
Whether it’s individual errors – i.e. the rash challenge from Amadou – or a lack of general defensive cohesion, Norwich must stop shooting themselves in the foot early on in games.
Unfortunately, they are not only struggling defensively away from home, with just one goal scored on the road. Teemu Pukki’s slotted finish at Anfield now feels like an eternity ago.
The goalless run away from Carrow Road never really looked set to change at Selhurst Park. The best chance of the game fell to Todd Cantwell during City’s only real dominant spell of the game shortly before half-time, but his effort lacked power and was easily block by Joel Ward.
Pukki had a half-chance after Emi Buendia put a ball over the top of the Palace defence, but it was a difficult finish on his left foot and Guaita tipped the ball over the bar. In truth, the shot was probably going off target.
Cantwell again had a chance in the second half, cutting inside onto his right foot and getting a shot away at goal, but again it lacked in power and was easily saved by the Palace ‘keeper.
Norwich will come away disappointed that they only managed to force three saves from Guaita, all of which were routine. However, it must be said that Palace were incredibly well organised defensively; nothing special but well drilled and they looked comfortable off the ball, happy to allow the Canaries to keep the ball and force backward passes.
In the second half, Palace looked to counter on City, mainly through wingers Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend, the latter eventually confirming that we were coming away from the game empty-handed with a well-placed finish into the bottom corner, after a determined run from Zaha.
Elsewhere, the injury list continues to grow with Ralf Fahrmann having to leave the pitch shortly after facing the penalty. The German was a pre-match doubt with a groin problem and as he limped off to be replaced by Michael McGovern, it did look as though that was the complaint.
After the game, Daniel Farke also confirmed that Jamal Lewis had potentially broken his elbow during the game, another crushing blow. With such a monumental injury list its fair to say that City are not at full strength, but those that are fit must learn to grind out a draw away from home.
Farke said his team needed to start taking their chances during periods of dominance in games, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. Had Cantwell’s effort during City’s best spell of the game hit the back of the net, going in level at half-time would have completely changed the dynamic of the second half.
We’re not getting the rub of the green in terms of injuries, a prime example being both Fahrmann and McGovern having to make their Premier League debuts.
Regardless of this though, City must improve on the road, the individual errors must be limited and a collective ability to make the most of spells in which City are in ascendency must be forged if they are to build upon a positive home record.