The Tony Pulis bus rolled into Carrow Road this afternoon and parked itself obdurately in NR1.
Pulis deployed what has become the go-to playbook for visitors this season. Pack the box with players. Tick. Frustrate Buendia. Tick. Hit on the break. Tick.
Wednesday played with five across the back, and three more players only yards in front of them denying the City players the space and channels in which they love to operate.
They were more than willing to concede the rest of the pitch to the players in yellow and the sight of Gibson and Hanley deep inside the opposition half was common. That’s not to say Wednesday offered no threat.
A succession of corners in the first half will have had the 2000 Canaries fans in the ground shuffling uneasily on the edge of their seats. City just don’t look as secure at set-pieces without their talismanic Dutchman between the posts.
Norwich were trying to play with width to counter the Pulis tactics – Placheta was a constant threat, forming a good partnership with Sorensen, and it was the Dane who perhaps came closest to scoring. A diagonal ball found him in space but his shot was smuggled away by the keeper.
A couple of crunching tackles on Buendia illustrated the threat that Pulis felt he offered but Emi was largely a frustrated observer for much of the afternoon. Both he and Vrancic had free-kick opportunities in the first half which came to nothing.
The second half continued in the same manner and City became more and more frustrated. Stiepermann will probably want to forget this game – nothing came off for him, largely because he was denied any space, time or options. And then what felt inevitable.
A long ball to Adam Reach who played a curling cross in from halfway inside the city half, and Windass was first to the ball. McGovern made himself look bad by coming, stopping and then watching the ball fly past him but, in reality, there was little else he could.
Pulis responded in typical fashion. Striker off. Defender on.
For some time it looked like, once again, a tiring Norwich team would run out of steam and ideas. But Farke dealt probably his only attacking card, removing Stiepermann and bringing on Josh Martin.
It was the formation change that really helped. Sorensen moved into the centre of a back 3 and Aarons and Placheta pushed up as wing-backs.
Immediately, Gibson strode forward with the ball and found Vrancic. As the ball was played by Gibson, Martin was on the move, Vrancic slipped a beautifully weighted ball into his path and the youngster touched it past the keeper.
Only a few minutes later, Aarons got the ball on the right. His jinking run took him into the box and this time his through ball found Vrancic. The Bosnian played a delicious backheel back to Aarons who had continued his run and delivered feint and finish worthy of Pukki.
The last minutes were nervous ones with several City players cramping up, including Vrancic, but it ended with City threatening to increase their lead further.
The 2000 fans allowed back inside Carrow Road were treated to the Farke wave – how we have missed that. And back to the top of the league. Not the best technical performance perhaps, but a thrilling end to the game which was won by two moments of sheer quality.