The joy of watching Emma Radacanu winning the US Open last Saturday evening may have temporarily eased the pain of another City defeat but was only a short-term fix.
I’m not sure what specifically it is about an away defeat at the Emirates that encaptures everything about Norwich City in the Premier League (we tend to lose everywhere), but if I shut my eyes and think Premier League pain, I see City’s players, heads bowed, wearily trooping off the Emirates pitch.
We usually do okay, play some nice stuff, have a few little flurries without ever really looking like scoring, and then succumb to a soft goal or two. The support in that yellow corner of the Emirates is always magnificent yet they invariably depart hoarse and disappointed.
Saturday was no different. No different at all.
The hurt we all associate with our football club in the Premier League has gone nowhere… yet. Four consecutive Match of the Days given the swerve.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There is, of course (before everyone shouts at me), plenty of mitigation that can be thrown at our uber-slow start but even the most skilful of spin doctors cannot massage away the fact it has been a nightmare of an opener. Give it as many revolutions as you like, we have still lost four from four and have scored a single goal, which came from the penalty spot.
We didn’t expect much from those games, but a point or two would have been nice, especially from Leicester and Arsenal, but that old Premier League failing of ours of *just* coming out the wrong side of a moment of controversy or slice of misfortune has gone nowhere.
The faces in yellow shirts may have changed but the same knot in the pit of the stomach remains when it all goes awry.
But… potentially a new dawn awaits.
For the sake of pure laziness, I’ll call them our deadline day signings – even though both were made in the days leading up to said deadline – but if Mathias Normann and Ozan Kabak are able to deliver as per their billing (as opposed to Billing), then maybe, just maybe, things are about to change.
I’ll not delve too deeply into the Hornets of Hertfordshire because Stewart has done that expertly in the match preview you will see tomorrow morning, but I’m not giving too much away if I say that our recent record against them is pretty rotten.
Watford’s propensity to put it up ’em when the Canaries are in town is well documented and where it invariably falls down is our inability, in the words of Worthy, to “earn the right” to weave our pretty passing patterns when faced with athletic, physical, fast and energetic opponents.
While it’s not a phrase I love, it was always hard to contest Nigel’s mantra – namely that in order to get it down and play there needs to be a solid base to work from; one formed by matching or bettering their opponents in terms of physicality and energy.
By 5pm on Saturday, we’ll have a better idea of whether or not this deficiency has been addressed in Farkeball 5.0.
Ignore for now the much-discussed changes in formation and tactics; the inability to gain a foothold in any game will render the best-made plans useless, especially in the Premier League.
Last season, City were good enough with the ball to outplay most teams and so were able to acquire possession of the ball through being technically superior. The need to battle and fight for control was largely negated by being better than almost everyone else.
Watford, of course, were the exception to this rule. They did bully us. Twice.
So, as well as being a chance to get some of those damned elusive Premier League points on the board, it will also be a barometer of how effective the summer overhaul has been in making us bully-proof.
If that box has indeed been ticked, then even if Saturday doesn’t go as we all desperately hope, then at least we have given ourselves a chance. If we remain pushovers when the elbows are out, the tackles are flying in and the pace is at breakneck, then it could be a long old seven months.
Please let it be the former.
Never Mind the Danger…
Midfield Mike says
For what it’s worth, Wolves beat Watford with a 3-4-3 against 4-1-4-1. Personally, i think 4-3-3 is inappropriate to play against 4-1-4-1 but thats up to DF to decide.
I could name 11+3 players that would suit 3 different formations perfectly, namely 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 and 3-4-3. Round pegs in round holes and ultimate in-game flexibility, with the 3 chosen from the 9 subs specifically suited to the subtle aspects of those 3 systems.
The crux is to nail a midfield pairing that is good enough without needing to be a midfield 3 unnecessarily.
Cantwell Sarjent Rashica
McLean (Normann or PLM)
Williams Hanley Kabak Aarons
1 sub gets from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3 if you need to score
Tzolis Sarjent (Cantwell or Rashica)
Williams McLean (Normann or PLM) Aarons
(Gibson or Andy O) Hanley Kabak
or 2 subs gets you to 3-5-2 to protect a lead and hit on the counter
Sarjent (Pukki or Tzolis)
Williams McLean (Gilmour) (Normann or PLM) Aarons
(Gibson or Andy O) Hanley Kabak
Our net spend is suggested to be around 50 million. Against Arsenal, we played with 1 out of 3 loan fees and only 2 permanent signings:: Williams, Tzolis and Lees-Melou. The others are all Norwich stalwarts. On the bench, Gianoullis and Gibson, £15m-ish, 2/3 loan fees in Gilmour and Kabak… then Rashica, Sarjent and Normann were all absent for various and acceptable reasons.
Just go for it on saturday please DF!
Good analysis Mike. Just one point, the net spend was closer to £20M.
Alex B says
Hi Mike I notice no keeper in your select so is Krul a definite or maybe Gunn gets a chance
In regard to the 2 ozan kabak looks and sounds proper , the other lad mathias normann sounds a bit of an unknown quantity I just hope really hope he offers some much needed muscle in the centre lets hope webbers homework is correct in this position because it’s possibly the most important one to get right .But in terms of competition for this place I’m not sure there is any which is disappointing because I had hoped that sorensen would get a go there . Fingers and toes crossed though .
I don’t really understand why we’ve already written Gibson off. He was our best defender last season and – shock horror – is capable of playing the ball out from the back.
Here’s my theory, for what it’s worth.
Krul misses Skipp, who would drop deep to receive a quick ball out. Krul is now searching for that quick ball but it ain’t there anymore. So he resorts to long ball if he can’t play out because the simple and effective path last season was two ways: Krul, Skipp/Gibson to Emi or Todd.
Krul, Skipp/Gibson to Aarons, to Emi
Look how many parts of that jigsaw we are missing! No wonder we aren’t functioning!
Also, for what it’s worth, for all those berating our recently lauded defenders for being ‘not good enough at this level’, well I’ve watched Liverpool, Man City & Leicester tear some seriously good European defences apart this week in exactly the same manner we have been. So let’s not write off what was one of the meanest NCFC defensive lines ever last year, just yet. We owe them that much.
Alex B says
Watford lost some muscle with Deeney, Gray and a terrior in midfield going to CP.
There biggest threat is Sarr and Wolves kept him quiet last week and they had a premiership novice in goal with Foster due back for this weekend game.
Will a week with all his squad for the first time this season make a difference only time will tell but I will go for city to win 2-1
Hi Gary, interesting mix!
Emma Raducanu brightened up Saturday night, nothing can detract from her US Open victory, or her entire tournament, She played great tennis and her team prepped her well!
Fernandez either ran out of steam or ran into self-doubt – the latter surprising since she beat Monique Kerber in an earlier round. Her complaint about Raducanu’s injury was pointless given that play had to stop due to Raducanu’s open wound anyway.
Norwich had a bumpy start, we knew the first four fixtures would be frustrating, disappointing we couldn’t pinch a lucky point or two from Leicester and Arsenal, who were both patchy themselves. But, if we don’t attack the visiting goal area, a lack of points is inevitable anyway.
I really don’t think that VAR is worthy if the ability to stop the game to redress and assess situations like Saka’s handball, which gave Arsenal an unfair advantage, doesn’t actually get fully exercised. The officials on and off the field should be truly embarrassed.
To turn the first four results around we have to tough it out, battle our opponents face to face, and not take defeat for an answer. Premier League football pitches aren’t the place for ‘woke’ attitudes anyway, we can be polite in the club bar later.
It is to be hoped Daniel Farke has a clear plan by now. Watford special? We gave them too much respect last season in the Championship, we can’t make that error this season, in the Premiership.
The new guys will hopefully provide us with new dimensions, which will work well with the dimensions we already had at our disposal. Hopefully by now the blending is well inplace, in time for us to beat Watford and move on up!
Kev english says
Still think our midfield is the problem
Let’s hope normann can help tighten our midfield up?
Also let’s hope for one game at least we have no silly mistakes.
.come on you yellows let’s het our 1st 3 points tomorrow please.
Midfield Mike says
LIke I said, 4-3-3 is inappropriate against 4-1-4-1.
Watford have now taken 15/15 points against us.
People said there were individual errors and I agree, but still, apart from a lively end to the first half, I don’t think we were as in this game as others seem to think. Watford didn’t exactly break sweat either.
Sarjent, Pukki… Cantwell, Rashica, Tzolis…. Normann was excellent….the players are there. He needs to assess his own formation instead of, politely, making excuses of ‘fine margins’.