Confidence is key to Poland winger building on surprise City start

Przemyslaw Placheta of Norwich and Harry Maguire of Manchester United in action during the Premier L

Przemyslaw Placheta beats Manchester United defender Harry Maguire to force a chance for Norwich City - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The surprise name in the Norwich City starting XI against Manchester United was Przemyslaw Placheta, as the winger made the first Premier League start of his career.

It was only a second appearance of the season for the 23-year-old, having also made a late cameo during the 2-1 home loss to Leeds in October after struggling to shake off Covid-19 during the opening months of the campaign. 

Placheta was among the players isolating during City’s pre-season outbreak that forced the cancellation of two friendlies, with Daniel Farke later revealing that the speedster’s heart rate was having to be carefully monitored as he recovered, before eventually being given the all-clear by doctors. 

Having arrived in the summer of 2020 from Polish side Slask Wroclaw for around £2million, he claimed a goal and an assist from 28 appearances but was on the fringes during the second half of last season’s Championship title success – with his last start being the 2-0 loss at Swansea in February. 

Placheta did graduate to the Poland senior squad though and earned five caps, one being during the European Championship as his country failed to reach the knockout stages. 

That faith in his potential has remained once fit this season, with his first appearance of this campaign being 90 minutes during a 5-0 thrashing of minnows San Marino in World Cup qualifying in October, setting up the opener. 

It seems he is impressing new City head coach Dean Smith too, being chosen on the right wing ahead of Todd Cantwell or Kieran Dowell on Saturday, playing 70 minutes of the 1-0 home loss against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford. 

A relatively quiet opening 10 minutes had seen Smith issuing instructions to the wide man shortly after battling back to help Max Aarons deal with a Jadon Sancho attack. 

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His first corner delivery from the right side initially went awry, as Placheta went short to Lukas Rupp but was off target with the pass. The German retrieved the situation though and the attacker was able to whip in a left-footed cross from a better angle, which Ozan Kabak could only loop upwards with a header at full stretch. 

There was initial relief for the Pole in the 16th minute, after Aarons had done well to play out of trouble only for Placheta to give the ball straight to Bruno Fernandes. A Ronaldo air-shot from the resulting pass brought initial cheers, only for the Portugal superstar to trip Grant Hanley as he chased the loose ball – with the City skipper forced off five minutes later with a shoulder injury. 

Failing to read a Rupp pass on the wing continued a rusty opening 25 minutes but Placheta finally made an attacking impact in the 29th minute, flicking an Aarons pass nicely to Kenny McLean and pushing forward to receive the return pass. 

Displaying good composure, the winger chipped his cross to Rupp in the box but the German put too much on his pass to Teemu Pukki. 

There was plenty of effort but as half-time arrived, Placheta was still searching for a foothold in the game. He created a big chance two minutes after the break though. 

A sharp one-two with Aarons saw the winger pick up the loose ball after a Fred tackle and charge at Harry Maguire, chopping inside the England defender to open up the shot but poking left-footed at David De Gea as the defender tugged at his shirt, when the angle suited a right-footer. 

Przemyslaw Placheta of Norwich in action during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, NorwichPic

Przemyslaw Placheta started the first Premier League match of his career - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Three corners in quick succession followed either side of the hour mark, with a delivery to the near post flicked on by Josh Sargent and Jacob Sorensen pressuring Diogo Dalot into an inadvertent header onto the roof of the net. Another was headed behind but the last was claimed by De Gea. 

A golden opportunity looked to be opening up for Placheta in the 69th minute as City countered quickly but Pukki shanked the switched pass and he had to recover the ball when he should have been through on goal, with his subsequent cross held by De Gea. 

That proved to be his last chance, getting a warm ovation for his efforts as he was replaced by Cantwell in the 70th minute, which continued as he walked around the pitch to the dugouts – after kick-starting his Canaries career. 

VERDICT: Far from perfect but a definite step forward for Placheta. Was lacking in match sharpness at times, particularly in possession, but stuck to his task well. Pace and crossing ability can be a weapon if he can build confidence but that isn’t easy to do during a survival scrap when City also need him to be reliable without the ball. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 

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