The football has been pretty depressing over the Festive period so far, I think.
Two decent performances against Wolves and then Aston Villa have provided exactly nil points. Both Midlands teams were outplayed by the Canaries for long periods and yet both ended up winning their respective matches against City.
Against Spurs, Norwich produced yet another decent performance but this time they gained a point although I would think most of us say it should’ve been all three.
Spurs’ form has improved under Jose Mourinho and you only have to look at their squad to see that they have an abundance of ball players, not to mention the current best English striker in Harry Kane.
The resting of four players, Cantwell, McLean, Trybull and Byram and replacing them with Hernandez, Stiepermann, Vrancic and Lewis makes sense at this time of the year, although I was slightly surprised to see that Alex Tettey made his second game in as many days. Fair play to him though, he’s been in excellent form this season.
City started brightly and the return of Vrancic immediately provided composure and some excellent passing from midfield. He also returned with a bang as he scored his first goal since the last day of last season at Villa Park.
Buendia robbed Foyth in the visitors final third and Vrancic strode forward, through the Spurs defence who parted in front of him, before stroking the ball past Gazzaniga in the Spurs goal.
What followed a short time later though, was an example of why VAR is ruining football.
Mario Vrancic played a sensational pass over the top to Teemu Pukki, who brought the ball down on his chest and fired past Gazzaniga.
Cue Carrow Road going wild, only to be stopped in their tracks by the dreaded realisation that VAR was checking for offside.
The goal was disallowed despite no flag from the linesman and everyone in the stadium thinking Pukki was on-side.
The picture that was provided by VAR HQ at the time on Tv is shown below. As you can see, Pukki appears at least level, with the defender maybe even ahead of him.
I genuinely thought the blue line was behind the red line.
— Michael Bailey (@michaeljbailey) December 28, 2019
When did offside become measured in millimetres? This sort of thing is killing the game, it is ruining it and the powers that be need to realise this and change it.
The disallowed goal was not a clear and obvious mistake, was it? So why is this sort of thing being allowed to happen? The time it takes, when you’re in the stadium, seems indicative of how hard it is to make the decision. When I’m watching a game at home on my TV and I see a replay of an offside, I know immediately from one watch whether a player is offside or not.
Anymore viewings than that and it surely isn’t clear and obvious.
I feel that if Norwich get this game’s second goal then they win the game but they’ve been denied a brilliant goal by the meddling of technology. Under the old rules for offside, a striker was given the advantage in such situations. Why can’t we go back to that?
I’ve studied that picture (above) for quite sometime and I can’t tell by looking with my own eyes, other than as I said, I think Pukki is at least level.
The banner that appeared in the Barclay a short time later that read “VAR – Clearly and Obviously Not Working” sums the whole debacle up. I would scrap it at the end of the season because you can’t do that now.
— Andrew Lawn (@Andrew_Lawn) December 28, 2019
The reason being that other teams will have goals disallowed due to minuscule margins and that needs to remain for the remaining months of this season to “even” things out.
It’s useful for reviewing red card decisions or penalties, but for offside, anything other than clear and obvious should be left to the lino.
I mention penalties but I later saw Vrancic pushed in the back by Dele Alli during the melee of a City corner but none of the officials saw it and neither did VAR. Where’s the consistency? Either we’re penalising everything or we’re not.
A second goal for Norwich before the break would’ve been game changing, just like it would’ve been against Sheffield United and Wolves but we didn’t get it.
Eriksen scored a great free-kick after Lewis was adjudged to handle the ball but again, he looked like he was pushed by Harry Kane to me, to level the game. TV replays were too quick for me to judge when watching it back.
City then had a stroke of luck when Serge Aurier put the ball past his own keeper, just as Spurs were starting to turn the screw. They managed a second equaliser when Christoph Zimmermann brought Harry Kane down in the box when the England striker checked as Zimbo slid in – Kane rarely misses and he didn’t here, despite Tim Krul’s usual antics and words of encouragement to the penalty taker.
By the end, City were hanging on a bit but I imagine we’d have all taken a point before the game kicked off, wouldn’t we?
Man Of The Match?
I’ve written before that Norwich need to be at their best in every game and the opposition need to be a little below bar most of the time, this season and that’s how the first hour here panned out.
Spurs were defensively very sloppy with several misplaced passes throughout, certainly a lot more than you’d expect from these big name players. City’s second goal showed that Jose has work to do. He moved from a three man central defence at half-time to a more conventional back four due to the way that Norwich were controlling the game in the first period.
Juan Foyth, dispossessed so easily for Vrancic’s goal and Jan Vertonghen were hooked and Sanchez and Moura came on. Moura made a big difference with his pace and Ndombele was terrific in the second half too.
It’s not a bad start to the second half of the season but again, at this stage having played so well, City needed to take all three points and they should have.