Abi Davies travels up to Norfolk and the land of Partridge to see if there was any “Ah Ha” for the Swans.
Swansea went into Saturday’s match aiming to end their run of games on the road without picking up a point. Having faced mammoth challenges, coming up against 3 of the Premier Leagues highest calibre sides away from home so far this season, The Swans should have still felt optimistic that they could travel back to South Wales with more than just their pride in tact providing they gave a true account of themselves.
Swansea were bolstered by the return to full fitness of Leon Britton who came as the only change to the Swans side that beat Stoke a fortnight ago, having missed the fixture due to a recurrence of a back injury that plagued him in past campaigns.
Michel Vorm, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams and Joe Allen all started for Swansea despite fears they may be a little jaded following their international excursions last week.
Swansea got the game under way but were quickly on the back foot as the home side found themselves ahead within the opening minute of the game, when Pilkington connected with Morison’s lay off, under no pressure from Swansea’s defenders who were stood static inside the box, the midfielder produced a wonderful strike which blasted past Vorm.
It became apparent early on that Paul Lambert’s side had done their homework on Swansea, as Welsh international Steve Morison made a nuisance of himself for the duration, with numerous effective runs through the centre- testing the unfit Monk and seemingly tired Ashley Williams.
There was no disputing that the Canaries were the more prepared for the game, dictating the pace they allowed Swans players little time in possession. The hosts were rewarded further for their assertive start to the match as they doubled their advantage with less than ten minutes on the clock, when Russell Martin latched onto a beautifully weighted delivery from David Fox, unmarked, the defender directed his header past Michel Vorm.
Hope for Swansea’s cause was restored as they amounted an instant response when Scott Sinclair surged into the box and despite being off balance the winger was able to pull the ball back for Danny Graham who was on hand to halve the deficit with his second goal in as many games.
Graham’s goal changed the whole complexion of the first half, as the visitors began to pass their way into the game it was the Swans asking all the questions of their opponents, stringing some decent passages of play together. However for all of their first half possession, the majority of their movements were breaking down in the final third as they seemingly lacked ideas.
No further clear cut chances in the first half meant Paul Lambert’s side retained their 2-1 advantage going in at the interval.
Swansea didn’t deserve to be trailing at the break based on their overall first half display, but it was a lesson for Brendan Rodgers’ side that in the top flight you will be punished for coming out of the traps slowly.
Swansea’s deficiency of a set piece specialist has been apparent so far thus season and this continued to be the case at Carrow Road, with corners either having too much on them or not beating the first man. With the presence and danger Ashley Williams can pose from set pieces I feel this is something that is essential to resolve.
Norwich started the second half much like they started the first, controlling the pace and tempo of the game, the home side were first to every ball and Swansea seemed to have no response for the onslaught of pressure being applied.
Swansea never really got out of second gear after the break, looking slow on the ball, getting caught in possession on far too many occasions there was no team spirit or understanding between players which was extremely uncharacteristic.
Their defensive display was one of vast contrast to what we have become accustom to seeing from the Welsh side. Even simple passes went astray, and build up play from the back was not done with the same assertiveness as it usually is.
Pilkington sealed victory for Norwich shortly after the hour mark with his second goal of the game as Swansea failed to clear their line,the English midfielder was on hand to scramble the ball over the line.
With 20 minutes remaining Lita replaced Dyer. For me this was the wrong substitution to make. Sinclair was fairly anonymous at Carrow Road therefore I would have replaced him as opposed to Nathan Dyer.
Norwich had further chances to extend their advantage however the score remained 3-1.
The result at Carrow Road means Swansea have now suffered four successive defeats away from home.
In the midst of a lacklustre performance from Swansea, Danny Graham and Joe Allen’s performances were two of few positives to draw from the game. Both had a work ethic of different class to any other in a Swans shirt on Saturday.
Graham in particular impressed me, despite being our lone striker, he often found himself tracking back trying to regain possession giving his all, you couldn’t have accused him for a lack of endeavour.