How Kenny McLean has found his wings
Photo: Getty Images

Four points in two games during a key period has been vital to Norwich City reigniting their Premier League campaign.

Whilst Todd Cantwell has netted in consecutive fixtures and Teemu Pukki is rekindling his magic touch in front of goal, one man has made a core impact at the heart of midfield...

Running the show

Kenny McLean dominated the ball against both Everton and Arsenal, formulating 138 touches in three hours of football. 

Usually you would find defenders with the ball at their feet more than any other player on the pitch but it is testament to McLean's impact that only Sam Byram in the latter fixture saw more possession than his 27-year old colleague.

For McLean, possession isn't all about keeping hold of the ball but looking to formulate attacks with a creative trio of Cantwell, Pukki and Onel Hernandez ahead of him.

The Scotsman has played six key passes in the last two matches, starting attacks for three of Norwich's four goals in the last duo of fixtures.

Playing further forward

Despite making six assists during the second half of last season after a long spell on the sidelines, McLean has been utilised as more of a defensive stalwart this campaign and was without a goal creation to his name for over seven months until the last week.

His renaissance on the pitch has coincided with a tactical adjustment at the expense of Emi Buendia, despite the Argentine previously being second for number of assists in the Premier League.

Whilst Buendia lacked consistency, manufacturing a number of costly errors in recent weeks, McLean has been granted the opportunity to play as an attacking midfielder, central between Cantwell on the right and Hernandez on the left.

Such a change has allowed Tom Trybull to slot back into a defensive midfield role, alongside the tidy options of either Ibrahim Amadou or Alex Tettey. McLean's defensive attributes, which have still included five turnovers of the ball in the last two fixtures despite playing further forward, provide more cover for Norwich out of possession.

Score or assist and Norwich don't lose

McLean is exactly six foot but has also won more aerial duels than any other player to share the pitch with him in the last two fixtures - 14 headers won with 12 of those against Everton.

Such excellent work, particularly defensively, can easily be forgotten when you consider the overwhelming statistics of him playing further up the pitch.

In the nine games McLean has scored or created a goal for Norwich during 2019, the Canaries have never lost - including the 3-2 victory against Man City earlier in the season.

During the other ten league matches McLean has played this season, Norwich have picked up just one point and scored only five goals. Including the City game, the Canaries have picked up only four points in eleven matches where McLean has played deeper - a tally matched in the last two since being moved further forward.

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