Tuesday night saw a dampened Norwich City side journey to Merseyside to take on a full-strength Everton foe, at Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup. After 120 minutes of intensity, drama, and end-to-end action the game was taken to penalties – where the Canaries were unluckily knocked out. But despite the outcome, there were many a positive to take from the display, and also a couple of negatives. Here’s five things we learned:
Ruddy has fine competition.
Declan Rudd, he is certainly one of our own. For many years the young goalkeeper has found himself placed on the bench, and sometimes even the reserves. But it seems the youngster could finally break into the starting XI of the senior squad, as a result of both his fine form and Ruddy’s blue form.
Rudd certainly impressed in the Capital One Cup tie against Rotherham – that was enough for me and most fans to say ‘give that lad a shot’. However, as always there was the minority that disagreed in saying – ‘It’s only Rotherham’. Well, now there is no incentive for Rudd to not receive a chance. Making a handful of extravagant saves and conceding just one goal against a full-strength Everton side is no fluke, that takes skill.
What we learnt from this match-up between the Canaries and the Toffees, is that Rudd certainly has what it takes to be Norwich’s first choice keeper. Not only does he have quality, but character and voice also – both the back-four and fans alike looked more confident with Rudd standing between the sticks! We should all be in agreement that Rudd has staked his claim.
Mulumbu could be the answer.
Could Youssuf Mulumbu be the missing piece in the jigsaw? Well, based on his performance against Everton I certainly think so! The Congolese midfielder displayed what a fine athlete he is; pace, precision, power. Crucial passes cutting open the defence, empowering runs, and driven leadership – just a few things Mulumbu brought to the table that night. His Premier League expertise played a role also, he commanded both the midfield and the team as a whole. This game has certainly shown how vital Youssef could be to our Premier League survival, surely he must start on Saturday?
Grabban’s Norwich career slowly fading…
It could be a negative, could be a positive. It depends which side you are on. Ever since his shock walk-out, Lewis Grabban has divided fans. But yesterday, he showed why he most probably has little time left wearing the yellow and green jersey. He was lackadaisical, sluggish, and poor both off and on the ball. As always, Grabban failed to take his chances – as we all know he takes at least five to score anyhow… Not only did he show he is faltering as a player, but he showed he was sinking as a professional also – his attitude and work rate was appalling to say the very least. With his underwhelming display as well as his poor attitude, the fans are certainly beginning to get on his back. We learned that he isn’t cut out for the role of first choice forward, nor does he want it.
We fail to capitalise on possession and set pieces.
One noticeable thing in recent weeks, but more obvious yesterday more than ever, is that Norwich fails to capitalise on any form of well-worked passages of play. Tuesday’s outing to Goodison Park saw Norwich control the game, with 58% possession. Along with that, the Canaries also had sixteen corners to Everton’s eight. So with those stats, it makes you query as to how we didn’t win the game – well that’s straight forward, we failed to put the ball in the back of the net!
Two seasons ago Norwich City were relegated, and it was mainly down to a failure to score goals and a failure to capitalise on good passages of play – if we don’t sharpen up in the final third, history could repeat itself. We need to start taking advantage of set plays. Week-in-week-out we seem to have hit double figures on the corner count, we just never seem to use them to our maximum. Let’s hope they get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ at Colney.
A solidified defence – we don’t need Russell Martin.
The most significant fact we can take from this match-up is the major improvements defensively. Going from conceding six to a bottom of the league Newcastle side, to conceding just one to a full-strength and European hopeful Everton side is quite the improvement. Yesterday saw a defensive line of Wisdom, Bassong, Bennett, and Olsson – it is arguably the best defensive performance so far this campaign. They were solid throughout and looked comfortable. One other thing, Bassong and Ryan Bennett seem to be forming quite the formidable partnership in the heart of the defence!
I think the most recognisable point and somewhat saddening circumstance that we can take from the solidified defence, is that Russell Martin is not needed. We succeeded to a much higher level without the Scotsman. It breaks my heart to say it, but the clash on Tuesday evening proved Martin is no longer needed and that there are better options. But let us forget this mourning over Martin, and remember that the defence is finally showing some reassuring signs.