Norwich 3-2 Manchester City
Goals: McLean, Cantwell, Pukki; Aguero, Rodrigo
Assists: Buendia (2), Pukki; Bernardo Silva, Jesus
I think it might be fair to say that nobody, not even those in yellow and green, truly thought that this result was possible. According to the chap who sits next to me, the Man City fans at Norwich train station were expecting their side to win by at least six, after learning of the Canaries’ casualty list.
And in all honesty, I think that was probably an expectation of everyone, not just at the ground, but all over the country, and all over the world. But Norwich City, in this match, showed their true colours.
Daniel Farke, in his pre-match press conference, said:
“Even if I wanted to, I can’t park the bus because I have no defensive players anymore. We will have to concentrate on our skills.”
And that is exactly what the Canaries did in this match; focus on their own skills.
They have already shown the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea this season that they won’t go down without a good fight, and this is something which seemed to stun the Champions.Embed from Getty Images
Pep Guardiola’s side had most of the ball in the opening 18 minutes, but it was the underdogs who struck first at Carrow Road.
A rare foray forward from Alex Tettey earned Norwich a corner. Emi Buendia took it, flighting the ball to the front post area, where Kenny McLean met it unchallenged, and nodded it past a helpless Ederson to send the home fans crazy.
The Citizens did leave a lot of space from the corner, but it was a brilliant leap and finish from the Scottish international McLean that did the job.Embed from Getty Images
Around 10 minutes after this, came Man City’s first real chance of note. Raheem Sterling, from the left, crossed the ball, but Sergio Aguero couldn’t get himself over the header, and fired over.
And from there, the Canaries doubled their lead, with a brilliant display of playing out from the back, and a lovely flick from Buendia, resulting in Teemu Pukki being sent through on goal.
But rather than have a shot himself, he unselfishly squared the ball to the local lad, Todd Cantwell, who had the easiest of finishes into the River End net, which had long been vacated by Man City’s Brazilian keeper.
2-0 to Norwich City, and it was something that no one watching could have ever believed. Everyone in yellow and green was on Cloud Nine for a while after Cantwell’s goal.Embed from Getty Images
However, we were all sent back down to Earth with a bump just before half-time, when the Premier League champions’ dominance on the ball finally told. The result of this was a cross whipped from the left by Bernardo Silva, and an unmarked Sergio Aguero was on hand to nod the ball past Tim Krul.
Now, let’s make no mistake, the Norwich back line did have a fair bit to do in that first half, but they rose to each and every challenge exceptionally.
Ibrahim Amadou looks like a first-team regular in the making in the centre of defence, while Sam Byram proved to be a more-than-adequate replacement for the injured Max Aarons at right back.
One other notable chance for Man City was when Raheem Sterling headed the ball against Tim Krul’s right post, but for all the possession, there wasn’t a huge amount of major chances for the League’s richest club.Embed from Getty Images
Into the second half, and within 5 minutes, Nicolas Otamendi had already given the ball away twice. The first of these was an incomplete pass to John Stones, which, after a one-two with Stiepermann, resulted in Pukki rolling a shot just wide of Ederson’s left post.
The second time was straight from the resulting goal kick, with the Argentine international seeming to daydream on the ball before being robbed by his compatriot Buendia. He went on to find Pukki, who, after sorting his feet out, tapped home easily for the Canaries third goal of the match.
From here on out for Norwich, the match seemed more about their defensive quality.
They withstood onslaught after onslaught of Man City attacks throughout the second half, with Amadou and Ben Godfrey proving an incredibly successful and solid partnership.
Emi Buendia was brought off as a precaution, so the Canaries also had to try and close the match out with Josip Drmic playing as a right-sided midfielder for the last 7 minutes of normal time.Embed from Getty Images
It’s times like this when fans are said to be the 12th man. But on that night, Norwich’s fans weren’t just that; they were the 13th, 14th and 15th man as well.
The atmosphere was something that I, like many other fans in yellow and green, had never experienced before.
This counted for even more when the home side’s lead was reduced, once again, to just a single goal, with Rodrigo firing low into Krul’s bottom right corner from 25 yards.
From the moment that the Spaniard wheeled away in celebration, you could instantly hear the Norwich fans, in their attempts to encourage their players, as “Yellows! Yellows!” rang out through Carrow Road.
Into stoppage time, and you could see the Canaries were up against it, as City rallied for an equaliser. Tim Krul ended up making three crucial saves; one each from Aguero, Jesus and Sterling, with each celebrated as if the Canaries had just scored a goal of their own.Embed from Getty Images
Really, it looked as if Man City had come to Carrow Road without the expectation that their opponents would come out and play against them.
They seemed to leave themselves open for a break in a way that, if Norwich did the same, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher would probably call them out for their “defensive naivety”.
The thing is, Norwich challenged them at every opportunity they got. Each time they went forwards, the visitors seemed massively exposed at the back, and Norwich exploited this very well indeed. It was a masterclass from Daniel Farke’s men on the night.Embed from Getty Images
Now, if as FPL players, we learn one thing about this match, or this entire week, it is that Teemu Pukki, and indeed Norwich’s attackers, are fixture-proof.
The Finn treated us all to another immense display, notching a goal and an assist for himself, and also showing brilliant work-rate at times during the match.
Basically, if you’re not at the Pukki Party yet, what are you doing?Embed from Getty Images
One player who has gone slightly under the radar, and wrongly at that, is Emiliano Buendia.
The former Getafe man grabbed 2 good assists in this match, taking his assists total to 4 for the season; just one behind Kevin De Bruyne.
Norwich’s number 17 is also, seemingly, on all of the set pieces for his team, and it was through one of his deliveries from corners that he notched one of the assists.
He sits at just £6.0m in FPL, so there is major potential for a replacement for the recently-injured Mason Mount, who looks as if he could miss at least 2-3 weeks of football.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, a Man City player who didn’t display a huge amount of promise for his massive FPL price tag is Raheem Sterling. The England international looked tired, after having played in both of England’s qualifiers over the break.
Apart from a couple of shots and crosses from the left, he very rarely seemed to beat his full-back, and very much seems as if he could use a rest.
Given, Byram had a brilliant game for Norwich, but Sterling looked very lacklustre, and could be a possibility for a transfer out soon.