After the loss to Crystal Palace, Norwich manager says player welfare is not considered

After the loss to Crystal Palace, Norwich manager Dean Smith believes player welfare is not considered.

After the loss to Crystal Palace, Norwich manager Dean Smith believes player welfare is not considered due to COVID-19.

Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta, and Jeffrey Schlupp scored in the first half to assist Palace move into the top half of the Premier League at Selhurst Park, relegating Norwich City to the bottom of the table by the end of the 2021 season.

Smith admits his side “need to be better”, but believes teams should not have to play two games in three days in such disruptive conditions, with some games being postponed because of rising cases.

“I didn’t have a lot of choice with the team and the subs today,” he told BBC Sport. “If that’s what the Premier League want, so be it. We should never be asked in the current climate to put players through that. Players will keep topping up the injury list.

“We had three who dropped out yesterday. Max Aarons, Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell all pulled out. It’s a really hard time, not just for ourselves but for everyone at the moment.

“I just told the players the half-term report: it’s not good enough and it needs to be better. If they want to maintain any kind of semblance of a Premier League team, we have to turn it around very quickly. It doesn’t help we only have 10 senior players.”

After a bright start, the visitors fell behind after eight minutes when Kenny McLean fouled Will Hughes in the area and Edouard converted from the spot for his first goal since October.

Hughes was the driving force behind Palace’s takeover. He leaped forward and slid in Mateta, who could only find the side-netting.

Mateta scored his first goal of the season seven minutes before halftime to make it 2-0. Edouard drew to the left and played in a low cross, which Mateta expertly placed past Angus Gunn.

Just seconds earlier, Norwich’s Jacob Sorensen squandered a fantastic chance, and Schlupp added a third with a powerful finish from a tight angle four minutes later.

In stoppage time, Sam Byram clipped the top of the crossbar with a header, but Norwich’s defensive issues had already given them a mountain to climb.

In the second half, Gunn made an excellent double save to deny Schlupp and then Mateta, while Vicente Guaita was forced into rare action by a Przemyslaw Placheta strike.

Smith was aware of how difficult the job would be when he arrived at Carrow Road in November, but his side appear to be lacking in inspiration at the moment.

There were some good spells of possession, particularly early on, and a couple of half chances, but Palace were never really troubled.

With Pukki and Cantwell out, their task was made even more difficult, but they have now lost five games in a row without scoring a goal and conceding 14.

The Norwich fans even resorted to singing “Let’s pretend we scored a goal!” which neatly summed up another difficult afternoon in what is quickly becoming a nightmare season.

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