As the team was revealed on Wednesday night there was one question on every City fan’s lips: how will we survive without Emi Buendia? Three hours later, the question had flipped on its head.
Lukas Rupp and Kieran Dowell’s fantastic performances against Nottingham Forest came at the perfect time; with Buendia missing, Farke’s attacking quartet needed to be at it’s very best. The pair, on the periphery in recent weeks, would’ve made themselves un-droppable in any other Championship team. But this isn’t any other Championship team.
Buendia, widely regarded as the best player in the league, simply starts when available. The Argentinian is such a vital cog in the Canaries’ creative machine that there have been times when it seems impossible that they’ll score a goal without him.
Although in the changes and substitutes department Farke is less than proactive, he’ll surely recognise the huge possibility that should he drop his star man, regret will ensue come 17:00.
But what does it do for the morale of Rupp if he’s straight back to the bench? How derailing would being dropped be for Dowell’s Norwich City career, three days after his best performance in the shirt? Even without these man management considerations, the team would miss either greatly in the form they’re in.
So, if all three are to win places in the side, how can they be squeezed in together? The most obvious solution is a Bielsa-style 4-1-4-1, losing the shuttling Kenny McLean and bolstering the third line. This would allow Rupp, Dowell, Buendia and Todd Cantwell all to play in the positions from which they’ve performed best, and the cover Oli Skipp provides would surely provide enough through the middle.
But herein lies the problem. Skipp’s well documented role as a covering full-back in possession mean either the centre of midfield would be wide open and prone to counter-attacks, or that the Tottenham loanee would have to abandon this role and gaps would be left on the flanks.
Against a team other than Blackburn Rovers the latter may be plausible, but the visitors’ greatest strength lies in wide areas. Harvey Elliott, who scored against City at Ewood Park and has impressed for Rovers this season, plays from the right while Ben Brereton, another young star for Tony Mowbray’s side, plays from the left.
In order for Dimitris Giannoulis and Max Aarons to make the desired impact they must have cover behind them, cover that would be lost with this 4-1-4-1.
An alternative solution is for Rupp to drop back and fill the McLean role, rewarding his performances while retaining the required balance. Recent performances and selections suggest, however, that this decision would be purely sentimental, as Rupp has only been able to displace Mario Vrancic in recent weeks, Farke continuing to see the Scot as the best option in the ‘8’ position.
Such fine margins are what decide great managers. The Blackburn game may not feel huge given the league table at present, but how Farke deals with this situation may be the difference between three points and zero.
The truth is that, with the line-up coming down to such a close call, it may well be decided by a behind the scenes nuance- a hidden tactical preference or the hardest worker in training.
One thing’s for certain, I don’t envy Mr. Farke.
Dave Cole says
If it were me, with Kenny looking a bit jaded the other night, and after apparently having a back complaint from the Sheff Weds game, he’s the obvious one to rest. I think Dowell deserves another go, at 10. If you don’t want to risk Rupp in a more defensive role, well we’ve all been waiting for Lungi to get his chance. It’s a nice problem to have, but I think Kenny’s position is the key piece any reshuffle.
Hi mate. It’s nice to have these problems as opposed to last season. For me I would drop McLean for Rupp. He’s had some decent games this season but it’s the Championship as he certainly didn’t cut it in the Prem last year. No better than Trybull and Leitner and where are they now? This is one position we have to improve to have any chance in the Prem. Keep well mate 😊
Robin Sainty says
Have to disagree. You say that Buendia has to play yet want to drop the player who, along with Skipp, has been intrinsic to our midfield development. I have to say it comes across as a conclusion seeking justification rather than an argument developed to produce a conclusion.
Pete B says
Totally agree Robin. I think McLean has been an unsung hero this season. The reason we are so good defensively is in no small part down to the excellent partnership of Skipp and McLean.
For me Emi always plays, so it’s a toss up between Rupp and Dowell. Apparently Rupp may have a slight hamstring problem which would make it a simple decision. I personally think Dowell looks the more creative force anyway so would stick with him regardless.
So, DF won’t change formation just to accommodate someone, even Emi.
For me, it’s straightforward. Emi gets to spend more time with his family, particularly with an International break coming up. He then comes back fully recharged for the run in. All the others are rewarded for an excellent performance on Wednesday.
The only complication would be if someone is carrying a knock.
Stephen Godbold says
So after what almost everyone in the entire football world agrees was probably the most complete performance by a Norwich team in the last 20 years, you’re suggesting that someone gets dropped? I doubt that very much. Emi will start on the bench and rightly so.
John Asher says
Farke now, perhaps, has the luxury of squad rotation.
Tracey Rix says
Cantwell is the player who should miss out does nothing in defensive work
Michael lynskey says
Cantwell either has to man up or be prepared to stand aside, against Blackburn he wasn’t interested in trying to make a tackle, and to stick his hand up just outside the penalty area, and ends up in a goal, that’s the reason no one would be interested in him.
martin penney says
Looks like DF’s press conference has sorted this topic for us after disclosing that Lukas Rupp is out with a *tiny* hamstring issue due to *overload* as much as anything else.
He’s still going to London to see a specialist though – no stone unturned and all that.
So I would imagine it’ll be Emi, Todd & Dowell for Pukki to link with.
Roger Cole says
I am with dp3 and SG plus why change a winning team and it depends how well Kieran recovers, he was blowing a bit at the end. Whether DF gives Emi a whole day off or not is his decision there is plenty on our bench. I would like to see Jakob Lungi get a start in his proper position instead of the Mayor. If we do have another go at the Premier League he has possibly got some development to come, unlike Kenny.
Roger Cole says
So Rupp is out getting his hamstring checked. Injured or crocked it is not good. I was beginning to warm to his contribution, an attacking terrier rather like Skipp behind him. You need these ball winners!