What happened at Carrow Road on Saturday is the reason why we love football, although the Blues’ fans might feel differently. Man City’s defeat to Norwich City did only seem implausible, it felt almost impossible. It wasn’t just that City hadn’t been unbeaten in 25 matches by newly-promoted sides or that it hadn’t lost in the league since January, it was that the loss came from an injury-depleted Norwich team that had been playing atrocious defence all season long.
The Canaries spent just over £1 million on transfers during the summer window, which was the lowest of any team in the league. This team could surely not compete with the Man City squad with a combined cost of over one billion.
But dreams became a reality in one of the most exciting games in the season. How did this happen? Were Man City that bad or was it just that Norwich City had put up a heroic performance? The answer is probably both, although we have to give most credit to the home side for the courage to take City on, and not being afraid to take a risk against the champions’ lethal attack.
What Does This Win Mean for Norwich?
How important this win is for Norwich in the longer term is difficult to say. To start with, it’s three more points in the race to 37 needed to avoid relegation. Given their early-season schedule, six points from five games is a more than handy return. It also demonstrates that the club has the determination and style to do more than just avoid relegation. Even more importantly, it means that regardless of what happens at the end of the season, the club will have at least one memorable day to remember.
After this win, Norwich have moved all the way up to the 12th spot, and are now a 1.36 favourite to avoid relegation, according to William Hill. The odds for Teemu Pukki, the team’s leading scorer, to finish the season as the top goalscorer in the league are 17.00. That seems like an appealing prospect given his remarkable form as of late. He has scored six goals so far, just one less than Tammy Abraham and Sergio Aguero.
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How Will the Loss Affect Man City?
Although Saturday’s shock defeat to Norwich was a blow to Man City’s title ambition, we’re still too early in the season to write the Blues off. However, there is cause for alarm – Liverpool are already leading by five points, and Jurgen Klopp’s team aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. While Man City overcame a seven-point margin last season, every point leaked is vital when the top teams are dropping less than 20 points over the course of a campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s side can point out that this was a slightly unfortunate loss, that Raheem Sterling hit the post, and that they had 25 shots to Norwich’s seven. But in the end, the nature of the defeat is insignificant, and all that matters is the final result.
By looking at the last season’s table, it’s easy to see that City were playing fantastic defence. After all, they conceded only 23 goals in 38 games, which was 16 less than everybody else. However, the statistics don’t always depict the full story. City had a remarkable defensive record because they dominated the possession in most games. They thought that if the opposition didn’t have the ball, it couldn’t score. Consequently, Pep Guardiola always preferred to have defenders who can pass rather than those who excel in more traditional defensive disciplines.
In most games, that’s fine. The problem comes against teams who can break the press and force City to defend. That’s why Jurgen Klopp has such a good record against Guardiola. Also, that could be the reason why City hasn’t been able to make some noise in the Champions League.
Be that as it may, it’s only one defeat. Last season, City won the league despite losing to Leicester, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle. There’s plenty of time to get back on track. But suddenly, the Blues don’t look quite as invincible as they did.
Man City will have a chance for redemption next Saturday when they host Watford at the Etihad Stadium. The Citizens will try to climb to the top position currently being held by Liverpool, and they are likely to stick to their attacking style of play against the Hornets. Aguero is on a hot streak, having scored seven goals in his five appearances of the season, and we can expect him to add a couple more to his tally in this match.
At 26.00, Watford has been made an underdog by William Hill. It’s tough to dispute Manchester City’s win in this situation, but at 1.10 they won’t be a suitable wager for many punters. On the other hand, the 8.00 odds for the correct score 4-1 seem like a bet worth taking.