Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 3-0 Tottenham defeat
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Paddy Davitt delivers his Tottenham verdict after Norwich City's 3-0 Premier League defeat.
1. Pretty ineffective
The final scoreline may well come as no surprise to those outside the Norwich bubble. But this game was really a tale of City’s chronic inability to take big chances at big moments. Allied to a worrying return to that soft defensive underbelly that saw them leak in alarming fashion, prior to Dean Smith’s arrival.
Teemu Pukki, Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah all had the opportunities that would have resulted in a goal return to match the volume of possession enjoyed by the visitors.
Tottenham appeared happy to sit in and counter, perhaps in the knowledge the Canaries do not possess the firepower to hurt teams at this level. Certainly if Pukki is not at the races in front of goal there is precious little else at present to rely on.
Tottenham made the most of a fortunate bounce crashed home by Davinson Sanchez to double their lead after a rocket from Lucas in the opening period.
Then Son showed how it should be done with a veering run and composed finish to seal a result that may feel harsh. It should not. It was another graphic illustration what is required in both boxes in the big time.
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2. Solid Smith
Never too high after a win, never too low after a defeat. The words of Smith following that thrilling comeback victory against Southampton that got his reign off to a bang. He may need to emphasize that mantra in the days ahead, after a first defeat since his uplifting arrival.
City’s fate will not be sealed against top drawer teams like Tottenham. But it hardly gets any easier in December with the likes of Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal on the horizon. Plus the small matter of a reunion with Aston Villa.
That perhaps is why failing to beat Newcastle, when they played with a numerical advantage for 80 minutes, will carry a longer-lasting sting. Smith and his wily assistant, Craig Shakespeare, have been around the block. They will know how to package this type of defeat.
It is a reminder to all concerned the former Villa, Brentford and Walsall coach did not arrive with a magic wand.
City finish the weekend bottom of the pile. The position he inherited. But in the interim they have shown enough, and harvested enough points, to retain a degree of optimism they can make a fair fight of what will unfold in the weeks and months ahead.
You can be sure he will not have been under any illusions before this game regarding the size of the task.
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3. Up and Adam
Idah started the day linked with a January transfer window loan exit. Nottingham Forest at the head of an orderly queue of potential Championship suitors. Smith certainly did not get that memo, given Idah made his first start of the season at Tottenham in a dual-pronged spearhead with Pukki.
Which underlined perhaps Smith’s own words on Friday he has enough on his plate at present to give any serious thought to New Year pruning to a squad he has less than a month to survey at close quarters.
Smith also said on Friday Idah is a work in progress, who needs to use Pukki as his attacking benchmark.
His moment arrived in the 59th minute, when Pukki’s ball squirted towards him, standing unmarked six yards out, but his sidefooter slipped horribly wide.
It was big moment in another shift with some positive signs, in terms of his hold up play and aggressive intent, following on from a decent cameo at Newcastle. Idah should take a rare start as a signal Smith feels he can impact this Premier League season.
Fail to do so in the weeks ahead however and expect plenty more speculation around whether the time has come for a short term career change in January.
4. Friends Reunited
No surprise Olly Skipp was the cover star for Tottenham’s matchday programme. A Championship title winner’s medal and the type of impact in green and yellow last season that saw him parachuted straight back into Tottenham’s plans, under former boss Nuno.
Antonio Conte seems equally enamoured on the early evidence since his recent arrival. That sense of a job well done in Norfolk effectively scuppered any prospect of a return posting this season.
There was a nice pre-match moment of affection in the manner he greeted Kenny McLean in the tunnel. That duo anchored another impressive Championship title triumph under ex-boss Daniel Farke.
One wonders how much more secure, and how much more stable, those uncomfortable early games this season would have been had Skipp been an option for the newly-promoted Canaries. Mathias Normann is a different type of player but with some of the same combative attributes.
His on going pelvic injury is a concern, after missing a second consecutive league game. The sight of Skipp once again covering the ground and putting out fires for his parent club underlined what a crucial component that type of central midfield option is in the big league.
Jacob Sorensen made his long awaited Premier League debut late on, But Normann is the man for Norwich this time around. If they can get him on the park, and keep him there.
5. Betwixt and between
On the same theme, this was a big audition for Pierre Lees-Melou. We got more of the same. Not quite one thing or the other. He is neither that combative purveyor of a tackle or, on the evidence thus far, a good enough technician to leave a major imprint in Premier League company.
There is an ease and a poise to some of his flourishes on the ball but in the intense top flight environment he is now being asked to operate in he looks a touch short.
There was a telling snippet midway through the opening period when Billy Gilmour slid a pass into him at short range but Lees-Melou was looking in the opposite direction. By the time he had reacted Tottenham were in turnover territory.
Gilmour shook his head and held out his hands. Too slow, too pedestrian in thought and deed.
It is going to take much more than Lees-Melou adapting to the intensity and the pace of English football. But at this stage he does not look part of the answer on a weekly basis.