Freezer’s Five: Key talking points from Norwich City’s draw with Bristol City
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Following Norwich City’s 0-0 stalemate against Bristol City at Carrow Road, our Canaries correspondent David Freezer takes a look at some of the key Canaries talking points.
Some defensive reasons to cheer
Drawing 0-0 in successive home games may be frustrating for Daniel Farke, his players and their supporters but this stalemate with Bristol City at least continued an excellent defensive record.
Not only are the Canaries now five matches unbeaten in all competitions but they have kept four clean sheets in four league games – the first time a City side has managed that in over 16 years.
You have to go back to the start of the 2001-02 season under Nigel Worthington for the last occasion, when the likes of Robert Green, Malky Mackay, Craig Fleming and Adam Drury were integral players.
Wins may be hard work to secure at present but having conceded four in successive games before the international break, that shut-out is a real badge of honour for Angus Gunn, Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann in particular, as well as the team as a whole.
Reed shows he can mix it too
The decision not to bring Alex Tettey back into the starting line-up raised a few eyebrows ahead of kick-off, as Southampton loanee Harrison Reed was rewarded for his efforts at Brentford in midweek.
Reed was as tenacious as ever but once again his lack of height did leave him slightly overwhelmed at times in the midfield battle, which Tom Trybull dominated.
The 22-year-old knocked a nice ball back into the box in the 29th minute which Cameron Jerome turned into the net, only to be ruled out for offside, and generally kept the ball moving nicely.
Tettey looks to have been kept in reserve for Tuesday’s tough trip to Middlesbrough and will surely return at the Riverside Stadium, given that City are yet to concede a goal when he has been on the pitch in a league game this season, but Reed has shown City have good options in central midfield.
Gunn’s concentration was vital
City keeper Angus Gunn is undoubtedly thrilled to have kept four consecutive clean sheets in league games.
He’s probably still annoyed at the late concession at Brentford in midweek as well – denying him five in a row.
The Manchester City loanee demonstrated the mark of a top class goalkeeper though, keeping his concentration despite a quiet afternoon and tipping over a Jamie Paterson chip in the 65th minute to roars of approval from the Barclay.
Otherwise, it was a reasonably quiet shift but once again his calm passing and distribution helped keep the City defence calm, as he continues to show he is more than capable of being a Championship number one.
Better than Burton
This may have been a second 0-0 on the bounce at Carrow Road – but this was a far more entertaining 0-0 than the draw with Burton Albion earlier this month.
That drab affair saw the struggling visitors start time wasting in the first half and dropping deep defensively all game as they bounced back from a 5-0 thrashing at Leeds.
However, City had three good chances to win this game and would have been deserved winners if they could have unpicked the Robins’ impressive back-line.
Another point, a fifth game unbeaten and a fourth consecutive league clean sheet allow Farke’s side to travel to Middlesbrough and Reading next week feeling they are in good shape and in with a chance.
Despite City’s much improved form it means a goal has not been scored at Carrow Road since the 1-0 win over Birmingham on September 9 – with the next home game not until October 14, against Hull City.
Academy product’s impressive return
As the ball rolled across the edge of the penalty area in the 85th minute, Canaries academy product Korey Smith could see the headlines being written.
Fortunately for the club which developed the midfielder, he fluffed his lines and blasted a terrible shot into the Barclay and let Norwich off the hook.
It was the 26-year-old’s first match back at Carrow Road since August 2011, having played 30 games while helping Paul Lambert’s team secure automatic promotion to the Premier League the previous season.
That elevation to English football’s top tier left Smith behind and loans at Barnsley and Yeovil followed before joining Oldham, where he has since followed manager Lee Johnson to Bristol.
A reunion with a player who made 73 appearances for City and showed so much promise, helping the club win back-to-back promotions, was a lighter note on a frustrating afternoon.
Smith also showed that he is a more than capable performer and, similarly to Tom Adeyemi, had City’s success not come about quite so quickly, he could well have remained a key part of the midfield for the club which gave him his big break.