David Freezer: Six things you might have missed from Norwich City’s entertaining loss to Chelsea
PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:55 26 August 2019
After defeat to Chelsea, David Freezer assesses the state of Premier League play for Norwich City after the entertainment levels at Carrow Road showed no sign of dropping.
1 - Balance is so difficult to strike
It was clear that Chelsea would pose a far tougher test than Newcastle had but the visitors were also clearly fired up to get a first win for Frank Lampard.
For all the positive attacking play from City on Saturday, they struggled to cope with the pace and movement of a visiting squad packed full of expensive talent.
Too often there was space being taken advantage of, leading to a fairly remarkable 23 shots conceded, eight of which were on target.
How remarkable? It was the first time in the Daniel Farke era that City have conceded 20 shots in a Carrow Road game and the most in almost six years, ironically enough, since a defeat to Chelsea. Lampard was in midfield as the Blues won 3-1 in October 2013, when eight of their 22 shots were on target.
Six City shots was also the fewest in a home game under Farke, yet two goals were scored and Godfrey went so close to an equaliser. It was a thrilling reminder of the challenge the Canaries face.
2 - It's goals galore for home fans
While it hadn't been enough to take any points from one of the big boys, Farke's side stayed true to the attacking intent which is making them so entertaining to watch.
City fans must be leaving games feeling like they need to catch their breath, particularly at Carrow Road, where it's now 30 league games since a 0-0 draw.
Since successive no-goal stalemates with Bolton and Forest almost 18 months ago there have been 19 wins, seven losses and four draws featuring 110 goals, 64 of them for Norwich.
That's a big average of 3.6 goals per game over a lengthy period of time under Farke, ensuring value for money at the very least.
A good spot on Twitter from @NCFCnumbers as well is that City are currently on the longest scoring run of any of the 92 Football League clubs, after notching in a 30th consecutive league game, ahead of Manchester City on 24. As long as that threat in front of goal continues, hopes can remain high.
3 - VAR made its mark for City
It felt like a VAR incident couldn't be too far away for City, after little in the way of controversy in the opening two games of this season. Thankfully, Andre Marriner did his job properly.
Tucked away at Stockley Park, in west London, the video assistant referee and their helpers are providing cover for the referee who is on the pitch.
With just over 10 minutes remaining a goal check was required, with a look of shock on the face of Tim Krul as Martin Atkinson appeared unsure whether to award a fourth to Chelsea, after City's keeper had claimed a corner and had both hands on the ball, only to be knocked over in mid-air by Olivier Giroud.
Kurt Zouma knocked in the loose ball and it seemed very unlikely the goal should be given, but thankfully VAR was there to make sure.
There were other incidents yet it still wasn't clear to the crowd what was happening beyond Atkinson holding his finger to his ear.
4 - Pukki just will not be stopped
This is Teemu Pukki's world and we're all just living in it.
Another game, another goal and a whole load of superb facts and figures to measure the Finn's success by, also claiming his first Premier League assist when crossing for Todd Cantwell's leveller.
That's despite, according to WhoScored.com, just 17 touches during a game when Chelsea often had control. No wonder over one million people now have Pukki in their team in the official Premier League fantasy football competition.
Five goals in three games is a great start to the season by anyone's standards and it was typical of City's lethal striker, staying onside to run on to a perfectly weighted Emi Buendia pass, before lashing on target and taking advantage of a poor position from Blues keeper Kepa.
It's now 41 in 59 games for club and country since he joined City on a free transfer last summer and Pukki is just the 10th player to score in each of his first three Premier League games.
5 - Midfield standards are set
This time last week there was a huge amount of praise for the performances of central midfield duo Moritz Leitner and Tom Trybull.
This time however the duo found themselves contending with much better opponents, with Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho proving why the Blues paid the best part of £100m for them both.
Newcastle had made the mistake of sitting off and allowing Leitner to dictate proceedings but the rapid pressing of Lampard's team made that far more difficult.
That's not to say this was a poor effort from Leitner and Trybull, just that they had a real battle on their hands for superiority in midfield.
Between them they were able to complete 68 fewer passes than during the win over Newcastle. Thankfully, like on the opening night at Anfield, we know City won't face this level of quality every week. A more robust core may be required for the next home game though, against mighty champions Manchester City.
6 - So much interest in cup game
All of which tees up a rather important League Cup tie for many of Farke's squad at Crawley on Tuesday night.
New boys Ibrahim Amadou, Patrick Roberts and keeper Ralf Fahrmann will all no doubt be desperate for their debuts against the League Two side, with full-backs Sam Byram and Philip Heise in similar positions.
Fit-again defender Timm Klose will surely be looking for a start, as will Mario Vrancic, Kenny McLean and Dennis Srbeny after run outs as substitutes on Saturday
Despite losing to Chelsea, it seems likely that a superb performance will be needed to force a change in the starting XI for the West Ham game on Saturday.
But let's not forget, it was the second round win at Cardiff last season which went on to shape a large part of last season's successful team, when Max Aarons, Marco Stiepermann and Emi Buendia came to the fore. There are Premier League places to fight for - let the games begin...
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