Goal woes, loan questions and a welcome return - six things learned from City's frustrating loss to Cardiff
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After seeing Cardiff show Norwich City what they're missing out on, David Freezer looks at six things learned from a frustrating defeat at Carrow Road.
1 – Goal woes continue at home
The Canaries have failed to score in seven of their 22 home games this season, the most home blanks they have fired in the second tier since the 2002-03 campaign.
The scoreline somewhat flattered the visitors, thanks to their late flourish. This was no abject concession from Daniel Farke’s team.
They competed well, stood up to the physical and aerial challenge and imposed their passing style on a promotion hopeful – but again their struggle for goals left them walking away frustrated.
City have managed seven league blanks just once in the last 15 seasons, during the 2013-14 top-flight relegation under Chris Hughton. They failed to score at home just twice in the last campaign.
The focus is now firmly on finding a regular goal-scorer.
2 – Big striker has to be ruthless
Failing to score inevitably turns attention on the forward players but Dennis Srbeny again put in plenty of good work for the City cause.
The 23-year-old was denied by fine tackles by Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison, as well as the post, to leave him with just one goal in 11 matches.
Prior to his arrival the big man has plundered nine goals in 15 games in the German third tier for Paderborn, which persuaded Norwich to give him a shot.
He has shown he has the ability to compete and cause Championship teams problems, now he has to prove to Canaries fans that he can be ruthless.
True judgement arrives next season – and let’s not forget even Iwan Roberts was a slow starter – but patience is in short supply currently.
3 – Right-back seems to suit Reed
Despite the inconsistency and frustration of this first season under Daniel Farke, a fair few of City’s new boys have managed to forge a strong bond with the fans.
Angus Gunn and Christoph Zimmermann are among those to prove popular and Harrison Reed seems to be in the same category.
The Southampton loanee was switched to right-back again as Ivo Pinto was rested and was one of the best performers, full of tenacity and fight – despite the height difference against Neil Warnock’s giant side.
His future depends on whether his parent club are relegated from the top flight.
But judging by the ovation he received when replaced in the 80th minute, and his goal-saving block, Canaries fans would welcome a return.
4 – Loan spell threatens to tail off
Angus Gunn has been City’s undisputed number one this season but his successful loan spell is in danger of tailing off slightly.
That’s hardly surprising given the situation his team are in, with little to play for with three games remaining.
However, he was beaten far too easily at his near post by Kenneth Zohore for the key goal against Cardiff, after initially making a fine reaction save.
Following on from his misjudged jump during the 4-1 loss at QPR, failing to add to his 14 clean sheets in the past seven games will be a disappointment after such an impressive debut season.
Concentration is crucial for keepers but perhaps 53 games this season – including his England U21 action – is starting to test Gunn’s.
5 – Leitner’s return key for Farke
You suspect the Canaries’ development ahead of next season would be in a far healthier state were it not for injuries to Moritz Leitner and Tom Trybull.
As much as Mario Vrancic has improved markedly as the season has gone on, the Farke approach has looked most encouraging when either of the classy Germans have been alongside Alex Tettey to set the midfield passing tempo.
Inevitably Leitner tired after a month out with a hamstring issue but if a return next season is possible, City must go for it.
Similarly to Trybull, you can see why the 25-year-old has played in the Bundesliga.
He tired, along with most of the home players, but offers Farke a welcome fresh option for the midfield mix.
6 – Warnock has done a great job
Clearly he’s not universally popular but Neil Warnock deserves great credit for the job he has done at Cardiff.
His pathetic antics in defeat at Wolves the previous week showed why he riles so many fans: he’s a bad loser.
That comes from his huge desire to win though and to have the Bluebirds on the verge of promotion, from relegation candidates when he took over 18 months ago, is hugely impressive.
His team reflect his ruthless approach. They won through determination. You couldn’t help but feel jealous as the away fans celebrated a memorable away day.
Warnock once again talked up City, he has often seemed keen on the job here, after his 25th game against Norwich – and his ninth win. An old foe who commands respect.