Analysis: How the tactical ineptitude of Norwich cost them valuable points against Southampton
Norwich got it all wrong from set-pieces (Photo: Getty Images)

"We were bullied in the set-pieces."

Those were the damning words of Norwich manager Daniel Farke as his visiting side lost a crucial battle of the basement against Southampton.

Teemu Pukki netted during an improved second half showing from the Canaries but a duo of set-piece strikes from the hosts, who had already scored 33% of their campaign's goals from such positions, proved costly for Norwich.

But could Farke have better prepared his side to deal with the impending threat from the Saints?

Zonal marking opens opportunities

Whilst Farke is correct to suggest his side "were bullied in the set-pieces," his decision to deploy zonal marking was hardly convincing, particularly at the mercy of James Ward-Prowse's dead ball specialism.

Southampton, a side that have now scored more goals than all but Liverpool and Bournemouth from corners and free-kicks.

The negative of zonal marking is any delivery with pinpoint accuracy will, more than likely, pick out the target of the cross. Considering Danny Ings had scored in three successive games, striking eight times in his last nine, allowing him to ghost between two defenders was hardly a wise move.

On the occasion that the delivery falls short of the target, any clearance could also reach an unmarked opponent.

This was the case for Ryan Bertrand's goal and could have proved a costly intervention again when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg tested Tom Krul from range with the scraps of another Ward-Prowse set-piece.

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Saints flood the wide areas

In contrast, Ralph Hasenhuttl deployed his troops to nulify the threat from wide areas that Norwich pose through the likes of Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Onel Hernandez.

Southampton attempted 37 tackles and Norwich lost the ball 38 times - 26 of those in wide areas and 17 turnovers at the feet of Hernandez and Aarons.

Using a high press, the hosts were content with shifting their players across the pitch, even dragging their central midfielders into wide areas to support the likes of Nathan Redmond and Moussa Djenepo.

Captain and central midfielder Højbjerg made 8 tackles, all in the left third of the pitch. Such was the effectiveness of the Southampton tactic that Norwich only attempted seven crosses, completing just three, as Hernandez in particular struggled, losing the ball once every four times he had a touch.

Lack of attacking support until late in the day

Perhaps even more concerning was that Norwich just had one solitary effort in the first 45 minutes, failing to register a strike on target until the second half.

A lack of inspiration and hunger from the start?

Whilst Pukki's strike in the second half was well taken, after a sublime Alex Tettey through-ball which was one of the very few moments that Norwich unlocked a tight Southampton defence, it wasn't until injury time that they had a real onslaught on goal as they finally allowed more players to push forward.

Emi Buendia and Sam Byram both had golden opportunities to equalise, both formulated from moves created in wide areas.