Norwich-Man City talking points: Wilfried Bony absent, Vincent Kompany the bright spark
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 12/03/16 9:29pm
After Manchester City's 0-0 draw at Norwich City in the Premier League, we look at the biggest talking points from Carrow Road.
Manuel Pellegrini's side are now nine points behind leaders Leicester in the race for the title, and although there was a refreshing performance from skipper Vincent Kompany, City's attack was largely ineffective, failing to register a shot on target in the second period.
They host Manchester United next in the Premier League, before a trip to Bournemouth as Pellegrini looks to claw his side back into the reckoning in his last campaign at the Etihad.
Kompany the bright spark
Manchester City's attacking players were heavily criticised after the match for failing to break down a Norwich defence which had conceded 54 goals in 29 games this season, but at the other end, captain Kompany was the brightest of few sparks.
The Belgian made 11 clearances and gained possession 12 times, more than any of his team-mates, and looked back to his best form having spent the majority of the season out with injury.
He also won more aerial duels than any player on the pitch, and was there to clean up on the rare occasions Norwich peppered the Manchester City area.
Pellegrini needs Kompany in top form as the league title looks to slip away from their grasp, and consecutive clean sheets will boost his own confidence going into the Manchester derby.
With another game passed, there are more question marks over how Raheem Sterling fits into this Manchester City side.
His introduction for Wilfried Bony just before the hour-mark failed to have the desired effect, but it wasn't through lack of effort.
The England international made 29 sprints in his short stint, more than Bony managed in twice the time, and touched the ball the same number of times (26) as the Ivorian striker.
But it was a testament to Norwich's defence - particularly right-back Russell Martin - that Sterling struggled to make an impact on the result, with the 21-year-old forced out to the left byline on numerous occasions.
Thierry Henry, a man who knows a thing or two about arriving into the penalty area at the right time, did not hold back in his assessment of Bony on Ford Football Special.
"You should be running, breaking your neck to get into the box. That's not good enough, you have to be in the box. Who is there to make sure that you can upset the Norwich defence?"
Bony's 58-minute stint passed without note, and despite getting the ball out wide at every opportunity, the striker was rarely seen busting a gut to make himself available in the penalty area.
He touched the ball just 26 times, none of which came inside the area, and completed the lowest percentage of passes of any starter on the visitors' side.
The 27-year-old is yet to score against a top six side for City, and not many would be surprised if Pellegrini opts for a return to 4-2-3-1 against Manchester United next weekend.
Cross after cross after cross
The visitors put in 22 crosses at Carrow Road, but only five of them reached their target as City's wide men failed to make an impact.
Timm Klose and Ryan Bennett made 23 clearances between them as Norwich's area came under huge pressure either side of half-time, and the hosts' shape forced City out wide to nullify the impact of Aguero in central areas in and around the box, something Aston Villa failed to do last weekend.
City have now scored only 13 goals away from home this season, 10 fewer than any side in the top five.
Gary O'Neil's man-of-the-match performance epitomised the effort and endeavour of Norwich to grind out a welcome point.
Wearing a bandage on his head from a previous injury, the midfielder threw himself into everything in an attempt to slow down the supply towards Sergio Aguero and Bony at Carrow Road.
He made more passes and won more duels than any of his team-mates, and gained possession 11 times as well as running a kilometre more than any player from either side.
His partnership with Jonny Howson in the heart of Norwich's midfield could be instrumental in their bid for survival, as they look to avoid becoming the first team to be relegated from the Premier League four times.