EPL: Why Lack of Wide Options Is a Concern for Norwich City

Andy WardContributor IIFebruary 12, 2013

NORWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 9:  Robert Snodgrass of Norwich City takes evasive action under pressure from John Arne Riise of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Fulham at Carrow Road on February 9, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The buzz word surrounding Norwich City in the January transfer window was unquestionably "striker".

Fans and coaching staff alike continually stressed the need to increase the Canaries' options up front, and it's easy to see why strengthening the forward line was such a priority with Chris Hughton's men among the lowest scorers in the Premier League.

As it was, the window slammed shut with Messrs Luciano Becchio and Kei Kamara chosen as the men trusted with trying to ignite Norwich's firepower in front of goal, as the club attempted to ensure that they would have enough to not play a starring role in the end of season relegation showdown.

But did Hughton miss a trick in not trying to also bring another winger to the club?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that City are really struggling to create chances of late, with Saturday's goal-less draw at home to  Fulham the fifth time in six league and cup games in which Norwich has drawn a blank.

It's the sort of form in front of goal that will have many fans reaching ever closer towards the panic button, and invariably when teams fail to score goals the blame is firmly placed at the door of the strikers.

However, I would suggest that the problem lies deeper than that.

You see, even the very best strikers in the world rely on the service that they are given. For every Lionel Messi there has to be a Andrés Iniesta providing an endless supply of opportunities for others to finish, and this is an area that Norwich City have really struggled to get to grips with in recent weeks.

With the exception of Robert Snodgrass, no one amongst the Canaries ranks appears to possess that X Factor needed to unlock top flight defences as things stand, and this is why I feel that another wide-man would have been a more than worthwhile investment last month.

Wingers are a strange breed of creature.

They often fluctuate from the sublime to the plain ridiculous, from the breath-taking to the sheer frustrating, but the one thing that the best wingers have in common is that they are match-winners.

Perhaps equally as importantly, they can offer an impressive outlet for relieving pressure.

Defence can be turned into attack in the blink of an eye when the ball is at the feet of a flying winger, and it speaks volumes that Norwich City have yet to score a goal on the counter-attack this season (via Whoscored.com).

In recent weeks, you can almost sense the lack of ideas amongst the Canaries forward-thinking players, and this has really put the brakes on Norwich's attacking potency.

The defeat to  Luton Town was a classic example of how Norwich are arguably easy to play against at the moment because the Hatters were quite rightly content to put eleven men behind the ball and let Hughton's men pass in front of them.

On that occasion, there was no one on the Norwich side capable of travelling with the ball and doing something different, and so breaking down Paul Buckle's resilient outift was always going to be tough—regardless of what division they play in.

The frustrating thing is that I firmly believe that Norwich City are at their best when they get the ball wide and get crosses into the box (Anthony Pilkington's memorable winner against Manchester United is just one example of how fruitful that particular avenue can be).

With the aerial threat of Grant Holt, Luciano Becchio and Kei Kamara, it's obvious that City has strikers who would thrive on such service and, if given the chances, score goals.

In the shape of the aforementioned Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington, the Canaries do possess players capable of creating from wide and making the best use of their talents could well be the difference between heart-break and survival.

However, with Elliott Bennett not exactly setting the world alight in his unfavoured left-midfield role, I can't help but feel that the Canaries are struggling for strength in depth in the wide positions as we head into the business end of the season.

Only time will tell if such concerns are wide of the mark.


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