Have you recovered from Saturday yet?
It was another big moment, an unbelievable moment in this first half of what we are all now hoping will become a promotion season.
I say “hoping” because you don’t win anything in December and we’ve got that busy festive fixture list to come. Should we still be in the top two on the other side of that lot, then my optimism will only increase again.
The case for the defence
It’s worth noting that Ben Godfrey had to start his first league game for the Canaries with only 12 minutes notice after Timm Klose was honest enough to tell his boss that he wasn’t up to it after the warmup.
Ben (20) is, of course, no stranger to first-team football, having played 40 times for Shrewsbury Town last season but the manner of his composed performance was impressive none the less.
With an average age of around 21 years, the City back four on Saturday was as young as I can remember. In fact, according to @ncfcnumbers on Twitter, this was the youngest Norwich defensive unit for 30 years.
— NCFC Numbers (@ncfcnumbers) December 8, 2018
There was bound to be a little laxing of defensive solidity with the loss of Timm Klose but the future is very bright for these lads and if this was the set up for the rest of the season (it won’t be) then the unit would improve with every match experience together.
Young master Godfrey played as a defensive midfielder for the Shrews and you can see that he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. From what I’ve read in the past, it seems that the lad sees himself as a midfielder but the gaffer thinks he’s got all the attributes to become a very good centre half. Having a centre back with that sort of cultured passing ability can only be a boon for the team that has him.
Grant Hanley will surely be recalled to the squad if Timm’s injury turns into something more serious but would he play ahead of Godfrey? Logic says “yes” but Ben had the better game of the two centre backs on show on Saturday.
Can City keep winning like this?
You’d have to assume that by the law of averages the answer would be “no” to that question but it keeps happening. Here’s another stat for you.
Teemu Pukki is only the second player since 1990 to score more than one injury-time winner for Norwich City.
— NCFC Numbers (@ncfcnumbers) December 8, 2018
Pukki had a fairly quiet game by his standards this season. He had a one on one in the second half but the ball just wouldn’t quite come down quick enough to allow him to get his shot off, allowing the Bolton defence to snuff out the chance.
He didn’t get another sniff until the 93rd minute when he struck that sweet half volley for the winner and that’s why he’s so valuable to this squad.
His predatory instinct and ability to find himself in the right place at the right time has again won the points for City. Teemu is that most valued of players in football, a match winner. Every week that goes by, his (free) signing looks more and more inspired.
I never thought I’d say this but what a signing Teemu Pukki is???????? https://t.co/IFMadjdJeO
— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) December 8, 2018
Stiepermann the surprise package
Marco Stiepermann was one of several players that took a fair bit of stick from certain sections of the Canary faithful last season. Mario Vrancic was another, as was James Husband. Two out of those three haven’t turned out bad.
Both Marco and Mario were hugely influential in the win over Bolton. Mario scored a cracking goal with his wrong foot. It had power and precision from 20 yards. I could only marvel at the way he struck the ball with his wrong foot and told my mate, Lee this as we celebrated.
”You’re not a professional footballer though, are you?” he replied.
Marco had eight shots on goal against Bolton and could easily have had a hat trick. In the first half he waltzed through the Trotters’ defence before trying a finesse finish, just like you would on FIFA 19. Unfortunately, Ben Alnwick was equal to it.
Marco eventually smashed the second goal home, his first at Carrow Road, and should’ve made the match safe moments later with a shot just wide of the post. He had a very good game and underlined his importance to the team.
He’s not the quickest, although he has an uncanny ability to keep the ball and run with it, and his final ball is sometimes lacking but his physical presence is a big asset. He is the target in the air if we need to go long and he’s just as important defending at the opposite end of the pitch. He’s now starting to get goals too, just like Super Mario.
Bolton defiant (a WW2 reference for you)
Bolton have had a tough time in the Championship and amid rumours of players not being paid last week, you have to applaud the way they didn’t give it up, even when 2-0 down.
Bolton managed to get a goal back through some slack defending courtesy of Sammy Ameobi, who was a constant if blunt instrument type of threat. After that, they threw the kitchen sink at the Canaries and got their just reward with a late equaliser.
When you’re at the bottom, things like 93rd-minute defeats happen and it would’ve been a long trip back to Bolton for the fans. Keep playing like this though and they’re a long way from being finished in the division. It’s just a shame that they’ll have to face Leeds at home next Saturday without Ameobi.
Like Millwall and Rotherham before them, they were beaten after putting up a fight at Carrow Road. The difference this season is that Norwich City are now winning these games, rather than drawing or losing them.
Farkeball is now in full effect and so far it has been enough to see off most challenges. While other teams are taking points off each other, as is the way of English football’s second tier, the Canaries are quietly going about their work of winning games.
The under the radar coverage seems to keep on coming with Sky Sports seemingly unable to see past Leeds United, Aston Villa or West Brom, not forgetting “Frank Lampard’s” Derby County, of course.
How much longer this kind of head in the sand type of punditry can keep going on is anyone’s guess but the longer it does the better for us.