The way that Norwich City are currently playing worries me.
I said the same thing on Sunday in my piece raking over the coals of the defeat at Brighton. You can read that here.
This morning though, I read an interesting article on The Athletic under the title Is The Pukki Party Over Already?
Norwich didn't manage a shot on target on Saturday, but Pukki was still their best player. Can he be used deeper?https://t.co/sPNe0oTzoK
— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) November 4, 2019
The crux of Michael Cox’s article is that stats prove that Teemu Pukki is currently the Canaries’ best player, despite not scoring for six games now. As we know though, there is a lot more to his game than just goals.
I think that it was fairly obvious to most of us that Pukki was taking chances and turning them into goals that he perhaps wouldn’t normally be expected to score. His goal at Anfield, still City’s only away goal this season, the hat-trick against Newcastle and his goal against Chelsea, were hardly easy chances to take and yet, that’s exactly what he did, showing his huge value to the team.
Against Manchester United he failed to hit the target with an excellent chance, similar to the goal he scored against Sheffield United at Carrow Road last season but this time it went over the bar, proving he’s human after all.
The problem is not with Pukki though. He is becoming an increasingly isolated figure up top and he has been dropping deeper in an effort to get into the game more. Against Brighton he completed 19/20 passes with the failed pass being an attempted killer pass in the opposition box. That sort of passing success is very, very good for a striker, even taking into account that he often makes short, lay-off or backward passes.
He’s still making the right runs too but the ball is not getting through to him as it did last season and earlier this season. Emi Buendia is becoming as frustrating to watch as he himself appears to be becoming. Marco Stiepermann isn’t having the same effect as he did last year and Todd Cantwell is struggling a little, having given the ball away and conceded a couple of goals recently (like Buendia), it’s just not working at the moment.
Josip Drmic is kicking his heels on the bench and as a Swiss international striker, he would appear to have the talent to make a difference but obviously not at Pukki’s expense. Perhaps adding Drmic to the first XI with Pukki just behind him in the number 10 position might pay dividends?
Pukki’s good use of the ball and eye for a pass could help add a little something to make things click in the forward areas. The return of Onel Hernandez adds pace and directness and Buendia is so full of guile, even when it’s not working for him, that Farke would surely struggle to drop him yet.
As I wrote in the post-Brighton piece, the way things are turning out at the moment is a big worry and with the season’s first real six pointer set for Friday night against Watford, why not try something else?
If City concede first they seem unable to respond and the game tends to just drift away from them, as it did against Burnley, West Ham, Palace, Man United etc.
We’ve all seen the troubles that City have had at the back this season and Tim Krul playing out of his skin is starting to become accepted as normal in order to even give us a chance of getting something from a game.
Should City’s Tactics Be Changed To Get Pukki More Involved?
Obviously, we need to be conceding a lot less goals than we currently are but the issues at the top end also need tweaking. We are currently too predictable to play against and it’s basically just too easy to beat us.
Change is needed, I still say.