Tactical Analysis: How Duda and Buendia interchanged and inspired
A rare moment for a Bournemouth midfielder to get close to Ondrej Duda in possession (Photo: Getty Images)

It's not easy to hit the ground running just days after making a move abroad, midway through the season, and returning from a winter break. It's even harder coming into a side bottom of the table, bereft of confidence and without a win in nine Premier League matches.

But from a confident, almost arrogant, first Premier League touch with a neat chested lay-off, Ondrej Duda impressed in a high octane opening 45 minutes for Norwich that blew their struggling opponents away.

Combining effectively with Norwich's Player of the Month, who created more openings for his teammates during a calendar month than has ever been recorded in Premier League history, Duda and Emi Buendia hinted that their partnership could just give the Canaries hope of flying high come the end of the season.

The partnership

Duda filled a previously void number ten role behind Teemu Pukki, offering another focus to Norwich's attacks. The Slovakian looked sharp both physically and mentally, despite being out of favour at his parent club Hertha Berlin under Jurgen Klinsmann.

The 25-year old took advantage of a flat Bournemouth midfield three, easing between the lines of the Cherries' midfield and defence to continuously pick up the ball in dangerous positions.

It was from here that Duda would often look to spray the ball wide or pick out the always willing runs of Pukki through the channels. But he also left the trio of Phillip Billing, Dan Gosling and Jefferson Lerma chasing shadows as he occasionally dropped deep to keep possession ticking over, allowing Buendia to drop in behind.

Buendia himself had a creative focus throughout the contest but in a contrasting way to Duda. Whilst the Slovak would change the tempo of the game through his one-touch football, Buendia would pick up the ball at the base of midfield before cutting inside and bursting forward as yellow shirts in front of him worked the Bournemouth defence.

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Deadly Duda

Duda immediately offered something different to a thin Norwich City squad. Not only did he prove to be a more natural number ten than all of his teammates but he also had the ability to recognise where his next pass would go, two moves before he received the ball, always on the half turn.

The Slovak created the first chance of note, quickly spraying the ball wide to Max Aarons whose clipped cross was met by the head of Buendia as the pair showcased the efficient interchanges - almost as if they had been on the training together for three months rather than three days.

Duda was also involved in the key moment of the contest, thwarted a goal on debut only by the hand of Steve Cook that resulted in the visitors going both a player and goal down.

His manager admitted"I think Duda was class. Bear in mind he has just come out of a winter pre-season in Germany and he almost scored his first goal. His ability to link-up play, speed up the game and calm it down was great."

Duda's first 45 minutes of Premier League action compiled an 88.6% pass success rate, 10% up on his career percentage, without being dispossessed or contributing an unsuccessful touch once. To underpin the first-touch football he played, Duda manufactured 58 passes from 67 touches.

Brilliant Buendia

Naturally, after playing just two sets of 90 minutes all season, Duda's influence dropped into the shadows during the second half despite prodding an effort at goal before being hooked on 77 minutes as Ben Godfrey was given his marching orders.

But the Duda-Buendia partnership not only interchanged with the ball but also synchronised in terms of influence. As Duda saw less possession, Buendia grew further into the game, both on and off the ball.

There was a period during the early to middle stages of the second half where Norwich's tempo dropped, allowing Bournemouth to ease their way forward. But the fire still burned in Buendia as he snapped into challenges and looked to inject pace into Norwich attacks when he got on the ball. Pukki should have killed the contest when the Argentine slipped him through on goal with a perfectly weighted pass.

Continuing the theme of recent weeks, Buendia dominated the ball, formulating 74 passes, more than any other player on the pitch and over twice as many as all of his opponents, bar Diego Rico and Nathan Ake.

Once again, Buendia created more key passes than anyone else, four in total, and enjoyed the most touches on the pitch with 102, just four less than the Bournemouth midfield three combined. Only Granit Xhaka, Ilkay Gundogan, Benjamin Mendy and Jorginho saw more of the ball in the Premier League this weekend.

Could the Duda-Buendia partnership keep Norwich's Premier League campaign alive?

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