Norwich City climbed Mount Everest this weekend, ending Man City’s 18 games unbeaten League run and possibly causing the biggest upset to happen in the EPL this season, despite 33 games still remaining.
With a Champions League game on Wednesday in Ukraine against FC Shakhtar Donetsk and their opponents so depleted by injuries they had to name two goalkeepers on the bench, Man City and their fans rightfully walked into Carrow Road expecting a guaranteed three points. Instead, an injury-ravaged Norwich took advantage of a defensive horror show by their opponents to complete a challenge manager Daniel Farke described before the game as “climbing Mount Everest without tools”, running out 3-2 winners against the reigning Champions.
Kenny McLean opened the scoring for the Canaries on 18 minutes from a set-piece, an area City have been critiqued by media in England as constantly looking frail and suspect. Zonal marking and nobody situated on the posts meant McLean strode in between two City players to smash home a rocket of a header past Ederson to score his team’s first on the day and his first of the season.
The city came back at Norwich but 10 minutes later Todd Cantwell added a second from a counter-attack the Champions failed to deal with. With City trying to play a high line Teemu Pukki raced on to a through ball, played onside by Kyle Walker, before squaring for Cantwell to tap into an empty net. Carrow Road exploded and Man City’s manager Pep Guardiola looked baffled. This wasn’t the plan.
A Sergio Aguero goal got City back into the game just before half time, but four minutes after the restart City decided to play out from the back and Norwich, who played a high press for much of the game, closed down quick forcing Nicolas Otamendi to lose the ball as Emiliano Buendia robbed it from his feet before squaring to Teemu Pukki for an easy finish.
Without Aymeric Laporte through injury and Vincent Kompany, who was released in the summer to take a player/manager role in Belgium, City looked out of sorts and average in defense and you have to think if the two players above had been at Carrow Road on Saturday this loss wouldn’t have happened.
Guardiola all but said that in his post-match interviews, while trying to not place the blame completely at the hands of his defenders and Goalkeeper Ederson. He did become sarcastic though when asked in the post-match press conference if City could afford to drop points behind Liverpool saying “We are in September, we’re going to do that? Okay. Congratulations Liverpool you are the Champions.”
The problem facing Guardiola though is Laporte isn’t due back until next year and Kompany is no longer even an option. Even more, concerning for the current EPL Champions is that the transfer window doesn’t open until January to fix their problems and if they continue to defend as they did on Saturday, by then Liverpool could have the Premier League all but wrapped up.