Did Norwich throw away the chance to get points at Stamford Bridge? Were Alex Neil’s tactics right? Did we miss Alex Tettey? Do Norwich have a dandruff problem? Are these enough questions? Jon Rogers and Dan Brigham answer them
Small decisions going against Norwich
Should the ref have allowed the free-kick to be played early? Should a player have stood in front of the ball? Should we have screamed into the referee’s face like Chelsea would have? Should we make Wes stand in-front of every free kick and risk getting more balls in the face then the cast of Geordie Shore?
The issue wasthat if the Chelsea player had kicked it against an already booked Youssouf Mulumbu, 10 men would have made things impossible. These small decisions are stopping us walking away with points against better sides and I just think it’s the ways of the Prem – we will learn. Still, the goal difference is relatively healthy for a team in 16th! That’s kinda good! JR
We still need defenders in January
For the most part, Norwich defended well. Clearly, Alex Neil and the coaches have got their message across and the team look comfortable in a more defensive the shape.
RussellMartin and Steven Whittaker have been taken out of the Norfolk firing line recently, and it's fair to say Andre Wisdom and Ryan Bennett's arrivals have coincided with an upturn in defensive strength. But… Is this defensive strength due to personnel or the change of approach? On the evidence of the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, it's the approach. It was Wisdom and Bennett who switched off for Diego Costa’s goal (as Bennett did at Man City), a mind-burp that cost Norwich a hard-fought point. While Martin Olsson and Seb Bassong have looked, on the whole, like Premier League defenders, the rest have been caught out too often.
You can change shampoos all you like, but if you've got dandruff it ain't going to make much difference: sometimes a hair transplant is what you need. A centre-back and right-back should still be the priority in January, or these mind-burps may end up costing Norwich their Premier League place. DB
Alex Tettey was missed
Tetts. Old AT. Tetto Extra. The Big Norwegian Wood. We missed Alex, although I’m not sure what was wrong with him; maybe he caught a glimpse of his smile in the mirror and swooned.
What did we miss? His passing, tackling, decision-making and shooting? Not really – we missed his continuous hounding, chasing and slotting in. Which sounds like my college years.
Gary O’Neil ran about a lot, Mulumbu showed excellent touch and a desire to keep hold of the ball. But the best thing about Tetts is that he brings both. JR
We’re not so humpable
In t’olden days, my biggest peeve while we were in the Premier League was getting well-deserved tonkings. It would be the 23rd min and we’d be 3-0 down and thinking about another entire Saturday fucked.
What I’ve been impressed with since that Newcastle game is we’ve visited Chelsea and Man City away and on both occasions home fans were praying for the ref to blow for full-time. Sure, we came away with nothing, but if we can continue this run of being in games during injury time something will drop for us and we can grab a point or even three. Our recent defensive performances against the big sides have deserved more. JR
Nathan Redmond is adapting
There was a lot of aaaarrrgghhhhing and whaaaaaating when Jesse Lingard was called into the England squad ahead of Nathan Redmond. But Redmond was injured, pointed out many. But STILL, said those looking for any reason to moan at Roy Hodgson's picks (much as they did about Dele Alli).
Redmond’s been very good this season. But has he been good enough for England? Perhaps, but maybe he's also been too one-dimensional: modern wingers need to be able to adapt and play through the middle to really make it at the top level now. So it was interesting to see Neil use Redmond as the key link to Dieumerci Mbokani against Chelsea. He's played there before – at Birmingham under Chris Hughton and in the Premier League under Neil Adams (including, if memory isn't playing silly buggers, when he came on in the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge). The problem is, he's always been a bit rubbish in that role for Norwich. Hesitant, indecisive, predictable movement.
But Redmond has been polished by Neil, making him more direct, more astute and, well, much better. If Neil can also turn Redmond into a real threat through the middle – and he was decent there in the first half – then truly Norwich will have a top-six quality player on their hands. He might even be picked for England (after being sold to Everton, obviously). DB
Neil’s tactics were right again
Some fans felt Norwich should have got in the faces of a frail Chelsea rather than sitting back and inviting pressure. There’s some merit in that argument, but if we’d galloped forward and gifted Chelsea an early goal – which was likely given the way Eden Hazard starting the match – confidence may have flooded back.
Although the passing was sloppy when Norwich did break, there was a clear gameplan to create opportunities when we did have the ball. It’s also worth remembering that Norwich’s biggest scalps in the Premier League in recent years – against Arsenal and Man United under Chris Hughton – came from sitting back and hitting them on the break. There’s no shame in doing it away against the champions – and it very nearly worked. DB
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