Norwich City supporters would have travelled to the Black Country in the hope that their team could collect just their second away league win of the season, facing a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who hadn’t won in the Premier League at Molineux in 2020.
In reality, Daniel Farke's men produced arguably one of their weakest performances of the 2019/20 season, leaving them seven points from safety at the bottom of the league table, with just four league victories to their name so far.
First 20 minutes a missed opportunity?
Following on from their comfortable 4-0 victory over Spanish outfit Espanyol in the Europa League on Thursday evening, Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo decided to leave Adama Traore on the bench for the visit of the Canaries.
In the opening exchanges of the game, it was clear that the home side were missing the powerful winger’s influence, with their first attempt on goal not arriving until the 19th minute (Diogo Jota’s opener).
However, Norwich failed to capitalise on Wolves’ slow start, as they dominated possession in the early stages but struggled to create any clear-cut chances themselves. Teemu Pukki and Kenny McLean did warm the gloves of Wanderers stopper Rui Patricio, but neither effort will have made the Portugal international worry too much.
Had Farke’s side begun the match in a sharper fashion, their fortunes could have been quite different. As it turned out, Wolves didn’t look back after netting the first goal, and saw the game out confidently to seal their first league victory since January 18.
Buendia introduced far too late in the day
Norwich seemed unable to create any clear goalscoring opportunities throughout the afternoon, with a likely reason for this being their head coach’s hesitance to bring on playmaker Emiliano Buendia.
Rumours of a behind the scenes bust-up between Farke and the 21-year-old had been circling among a number of City supporters on social media following the former’s pre-Wolves press conference, where Farke appeared to be critical of certain parts of Buendia’s game, with his words documented on The Pink Un website.
“Sometimes he lacks that ability to run in behind and add that to his game. He has to improve. Probably the most important topic is not so much about the individual elements, but the success of the team. The point average in the starting line-up when he plays is the worst of any of our wingers.”
As a result of these comments, it perhaps was not a surprise that Norwich’s leading assister of goals (seven) started on the bench at Molineux.
After a first half in which Slovakian loanee Ondrej Duda failed to make any real impact, and with City in need of two goals to try and rescue a much-needed point, the introduction of Buendia at half time could have given them a helping hand.
Instead, Farke chose to delay any substitutions (as he has tended to do on many occasions since arriving in Norfolk nearly three years ago), and did not turn to his bench for the Argentine until just before the hour mark, with the game already dead and buried by that point after Raul Jimenez had grabbed Wolves’ third nine minutes earlier.
Result could have been a lot worse for City without Krul
There were not many admirable individual performances across the Norwich side which turned out at Molineux, but one player you had to feel sympathy for was Dutch keeper Tim Krul.
Wolves’ forward pairing of Jota and Jimenez caused problems throughout with their relentless bursts through City’s backline, leaving Krul with no chance of preventing any of the three goals.
The Canaries should be thankful to the 31-year-old for keeping the score line down, having made a number of impressive stops, arguably the best of which being his save of Ruben Neves’ well-struck free kick just before the interval.
Despite Norwich’s struggles this campaign, Krul has consistently performed well, and is likely to have his sights set on returning to the Netherlands senior squad for the upcoming European Championships, having last collected an international cap in 2015.