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Norwich City 1-1 Coventry City

iFollow listed Dabo as the single striker. Unconventional, even for Robins, and of course it didn't play out that way, but he might be an alternative to fill the position when a conventional target, isolated striker just doesn't work out...

It seems that we play a former Premier League team and the damage is often caused by the playmaker. It makes sense, of course, that the playmaker causes the damage, but dealing with the problem is a necesity. Here you see the problem of allowing a strong central player, like Tettey, time to turn and play through the midfield line to another key player in Vrancic:

However, when Coventry were organized, they could press from a 1-4-4-2 shape and force Norwich to play longer, and turn the ball over: mentioned that Norwich had no significant weaknesses, but my opinion would be that they didn't create too much to demonstrate weaknesses. They either went through Tettey, who then connected wide or with Vrancic, or it went longer for a 'through ball' and this is where they really hurt Coventry in the middle of the first half. This image shows one example of a through ball from controlled possession in the middle third by Norwich. There were several instances of this same type of control in a 5 minute period, even with 10 Coventry players behind the ball:

The penalty and goal came after the extended pressure and the shape of Coventry allowing for the Norwich control. All chances came from deep runners, especially the winger #11 Płacheta. These two images show the shape of Coventry defending deeper, and how Norwich used the width to disorganize the Coventry defense, and how they targeted the deep runner:

These were the only real Norwich threats of substance and, interestingly, the same trend came in the second half. Norwich was very good with the ball. They played with composure and recycled possession to avoid turning the ball over a lot. Their ball movement also allowed Coventry to defend in numbers, but it pinned Coventry back more so in the game. Regular early outlets for Coventry were long balls forward and is no wonder that the isolated Bakayoko won 5 aerial duels.

Here you see a trend from most of the games that Coventry have played this season in the Championship. Pressure coming and then escaping the pressure with negative passes. The disconnect comes now that Kelly and Sheaf also drop to provide support and in the image, you see a 5v4 in Coventry's favor, but the ball goes back and then goes long. Again, explaining why Bakayoko had 5 aerial duels won, however, Hanley and Sorenson, the Norwich CB's, had 13 wins between them. A third of aerial duels won from the same ball should ring some alarm bells.

Coventry's real threat came from dominance on the wings with Dabo and Giles. Both are aggressive with the ball at their feet, but success in their game requires central control of the game from the midfield. In just one example, 20 seconds apart, you see Giles down the left for Coventry driving and beating Norwich players, attracting attention and leaving a central 2v2. Then you see Dabo in behind on the right after Coventry's pressure won the ball back, leading to an Allen heading over the bar.

The pressure created by the wing attacks for Coventry should leave you expecting more. Coventry were most effective down the wings with the speed and direct attack, so it puts an emphasis on the central midfield to control the attack and give those wide players the opportunity to join the attack.

There is no doubt that Coventry enjoys having Kelly back in the team as he knits the shape together. He often brings an outside CB into the game, and looks to play into the forward spaces, allowing Coventry to push up and control possession in the opponents half:

Bakayoko held the ball up relatively well but was often isolated. Coventry have had more success in previous weeks with two strikers. However, two strikers were sacrificed in an attempt to hold Norwich:

The substitutions helped Coventry take more control of the game, finishing with two strikers in Walker and Biamou. The image above shows Coventry deeper and the longer outlet ball to the isolated Bakayoko, which resulted in the ball coming right back. Shipley coming in provided energy to get beyond the fullbacks which were missing somewhat in the earlier part of the game. This means the wings are still a useful outlet, even if your wingback isn't in the space, and significantly reduces the demand on those players:

After those subsitutions, it was notable that Norwich dropped deeper. This game the incoming Hamer some freedom on the ball and he proved what he can do. Corners suddenly became more threatening, as did the freekick that Hamer floated in for the head of McFadzean which hit the post. The goal came from the freedom afforded to Hamer and he showed what he can do when given the space to play. The direct diagonal was unlike anything Coventry played at all, and it exposed the weakness of Norwich down the flanks:

Diagonal from Hamer, which creates space and opportunity for the forward movement of Walker and Biamou.

The ball first time across from Giles (although fouled) invites the chaos that ensues from the runners above and the resulting goal from Biamou that was thoroughly deserved.

If you watched the game, you might have wondered why we slowed the game down and waited for the final whistle. I did. Why not go for it. Norwich were deeper, rattled by the direct attack of the substitutes and potentially there for the taking. However, we've seen the front footed attack bite us on the backside late on in games so this approach demonstrates some of the maturity I want to see.

I think Robins was in a difficult position for this game. Norwich, whilst significantly weaker with no Pukki, still showed their premier league experience and championship topping ability with controlled possession and a clear focus on how to break Coventry down. Coventry were certainly most threatening through the wings and competed well to get a foot on the ball as much as they did, with the productivity that came from it. The shape for defending in a 1-4-5-1 makes it tough to get anything going forwards, but when Bakayoko held the ball and connected with O'Hare he brought the Coventry team forward as Norwich opted more for organized, deeper defending.

The performance builds on a positive win last time out versus Cardiff and with favorable fixtures ahead, Robins should take and build on the momentum being created from utilizing our strengths on the wings. There will also be encouragement at the rotation and 5 subs rule for the midfield so an impact can be made without losing the quality that can often happen with throwing subs on.

On to Derby on Tuesday.


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