When you haven’t seen City play it actually becomes incredibly easy to write about them. In this situation, the stereotypes you expect the side to conform to can simply become reality in the absence of any actual facts. On such baseless speculation and assumptions, message boards and newspapers around the country are written anyway.
So, this is my attempt to sum up yesterday’s match between Bristol City and Norwich City armed only with the match stats, a 140-second highlights package and 10 minutes worth of commentary gleaned while travelling home from a days shopping…
Bristol City 0 Norwich City 1: Analysis based solely on the match stats
Looking only at the match stats this was another perfect away performance. City ceded two-thirds of possession to their opponents, before hitting them with a sucker punch late in the game. Both teams had an equal number of shots on goal suggesting City (Norwich not Bristol) were content to sit deep, restricting the opportunities afforded to the home side. With only 3 shots on target from 9 attempts, it is highly likely the Canaries themselves opted to shoot from range – where the chances of scoring are inevitably lower – or were wasteful in front of goal when their opportunities arose.
As expected of a team with a high percentage of possession, Bristol forced double the amount of corners to their Norfolk counterparts. As they were unable to score, the suggestion is that the Canaries dealt more effectively with all 8 flag kicks than they have in previous games – probably a result of having three dedicated centre backs in the team.
One final statistic is the foul count. City committing 15 fouls to their opponent’s 9. In contrast to matches at Carrow Road where creative players such as Madison and Hoolahan are increasingly frequently subjected to persistent fouling, here it seems it was the Canaries playing ugly in an attempt to break up the patterns of play. This is backed up by the five yellow cards handed out by ref Simon Hooper to City players.
As in the other good results against teams in the top half of the table (against Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Ipswich), the Canaries triumphed by a solitary goal. With the departure of Alex Pritchard this week, City must keep hold of its talismanic midfielder – and match winner in three of these four results – James Maddison at all costs.
Bristol City 0 Norwich City 1: Analysis based only on the highlights
Based purely on Sky Sports’ excellent highlights, City were worthy winners on Saturday. Josh Murphy and Nelson Oliveira both came close following great individual build-up play. Bristol were restricted to speculative efforts straight at Gunn and one excellent opportunity from outside the box that hit the post following a well-worked corner.
The two moments of magic that determined the outcome of this match occurred at either end of the pitch. Maddison’s quick feet and sumptuous finish at the top end that gave City the lead, and Gunn’s agility to twice get up from a prone position securing the win late on.
With a lack of goalmouth action shown in the highlights, this game was almost certainly not a classic for the neutral. Not that that will matter a jot to City fans right now.
Bristol City 0 Norwich City 1: Analysis based on preconceived stereotypes
Writing a match report based purely on preconceive stereotypes, this was a lucky win for City.
In goal, Angus Gunn had a good solid game. He’s the best goalkeeper City have had since his father. Don’t like his penchant for a kebab though. That’ll have a negative effect on his agility…
Starting with three centre backs is sooooo negative. It a necessity though. That Timm Klose was no doubt bullied by his opponent, and Zimmerman and Hanley’s lack of pace often exposed.
At wing back why’s Ivo always caught out of position too high up the pitch? What’s he doing so far forward?! He never creates anything…
On the opposite flank, Jamal Lewis was superb. A real find, he’ll probably be sold in the summer though, for no other reason than to fill Delia’s pockets.
In midfield, Tettey broke up all Bristol City’s attacks, deservedly earnt his yellow card for persistent fouling, and simply distributed the ball to his partner Mario Vrancic and the defenders behind him. His knees probably gave in at some point too.
Vrancic himself is too slow and too weak, often getting caught in possession – another who creates nothing – while Josh Murphy too frequently runs into blind alleys before falling over at the merest hint of a touch from an opposition defender.
Maddison is the only bright spot now Pritchard has gone. Another who’ll be sold to make a quick buck in this window. Up front Nelson Oliveira can’t be arsed anymore, barely winning a header all day and refusing to chase any ball not directly to his feet. Greedy bastard.
As for the substitutes, Marco Stiepermann is a waste of space, Harrison Reed tenacious but only passes backwards and sideways. No-one’s ever seen Sean Raggett play before, but he’s brilliant and far better than any centre-back can’t currently at the club. Why Webber and Farke had him out on loan for the first part of the season is a joke.
What? We won? Scrap all of the above. They’re all superstars and we’re going to win the league! We love Delia!
Bristol City 0 Norwich City 1: The Facts
We got three points. Against a team in the top 6. Madders scored again. We kept another clean sheet. We’re only 6 points off the playoffs.
They’re the facts. Anything else is just opinion…