Teemu Pukki had a great second-half chance for Norwich City in the 0-0 draw against Wolves
– Photo credit: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Ltd

A point Norwich City more than deserved against a Wolves team that started the game in the top six of the Premier League. Still at the beginning of Dean Smith’s reign, but that was another extremely encouraging statement.

City’s rise in the second half was reminiscent of the opening day against Southampton. With one crucial difference.

Teemu Pukki’s Toe Poke hit the advancing Jose Sa, or it could have been two wins for the new head coach. To use Smith’s Carrow Road measure, the Molineux men will have boarded the bus home, knowing they were being sent through the mill.

Driven by the manic Kenny McLean, Norwich stormed forward, with Max Aarons on one flank and Brandon Williams and the formidable Milot Rashica on the other.

There was no end to the fairy tale on that occasion, but it was another important step in the right direction. Norwich after this proof there is no more gentle touch in the major league.

McLean and his compatriot Billy Gilmour were excellent on this midfield battlefield. Wolves tried early on to dictate through the cultured inspirations of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho. Gilmour looked for the hosts on the ball and then took on a further level of responsibility when he fell deeper after the injured elimination of Mathias Normann. But it was McLean who acted obsessively to set the tone of the front foot during this second period. His energy, his shutdown, his flattering seemed to infect everyone around him.

It was an unrelenting offer from the “Mayor” and with the fall of the Wall, the influence of Neves and Moutinho decreased dramatically.

Gilmour with him this type of defense around him could pull the strings for the second week in a row. It remains a mystery why he was so out of favor among Smith’s predecessors. But the Scottish duo now looks key components.

City’s biggest financial expense of the summer lured Rashica out of the Bundesliga. Dean Smith recently admitted at his official unveiling that his destination could easily have been Villa Park before the Canaries saw a chance on their return to the Premier League.

Rashica has been on the radar of many of England’s top clubs, but it was City that took the plunge last summer.

There may have been indications of attack intentions under Daniel Farke. But Smith’s move to the left at halftime in the Southampton game appears to have won the Kosovar’s approval. His energy, directness and willingness to track down and support Brandon Williams on the left side of Norwich were again noticeable elements on Carrow Road against Wolves.

Rashica still has goals and assists, but the desire from Smith, pressing the game, and the press in the opposing half certainly fit his game. The standing ovations that welcomed his late substitution spoke volumes.

Add those missing productivity items and there’s no doubt this can prove to be a smart recruit.

His Inclusion on a Farke team sheet tended to attract unflattering comments from part of the Norwich fan base. Bar, perhaps the beginning of the title win, when he formed a decent central pairing with Olly Skipp, Rupp had to be content with a supporting role in his city career so far.

So also under Smith, until Normann after two falls in the first Couldn’t go on at half time. The cause of the Norwegian’s fitness problem will become clear in due course, although the midfielder himself revealed in his most recent international match that he is playing through the pain threshold with a ligament damage in the pelvic area.

Rupp was Smith’s first point of contact. That in itself was a vote of confidence, and the German didn’t look out of place in a rare Premier League cameo. He rescued Billy Gilmour within minutes of his arrival with a timely interception on the edge of his own box.

At the opposite end there was a padded wall pass for Max Aarons to test Jose Sa. His first pass gave Pukki a big chance in the second half and he could have made his own headlines if he wasn’t in 80. But that was an impressive performance. With a tight turnaround for the midweek trip to the last club in Newcastle, Rupp may be needed for a longer stay.

Regardless of City’s bleak result against Wolves, their upcoming trip to winless and affluent Newcastle had a great feeling. Eddie Howe’s first official game in the dugout had ended in a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal the previous Saturday. His first date at St. James ’Park will no doubt spice up the atmosphere of an expectant home crowd.

The bar for Tyneside has been raised significantly with this recent investment and change of ownership. The support of the Premier League is unacceptable.

The mind wanders to a similar task in the top flight of Alex Neil for Norwich when a heavy defeat emerged that left scars on the Canary Islands collective.

In the end there are three Points at stake, but should Smith’s boys maintain this unbeaten run it will be a real statement of intent. And cause a lot of early nervousness in the Howe era.

Ref: https://www.pinkun.com