The new normal brought the same old problems for Norwich City, a side who produced little to suggest they might be anything but doomed to relegation.
A home meeting with Southampton was seen as one of crucial fixtures of their run-in, a chance to show there is hope yet. Instead, it became more of a brutal reminder of why they are six points from safety.
There can be no questioning Norwich’s effort, or their commendable sense of identity, but the two goals they conceded in five second-half minutes said plenty about their quality, particularly in defence.
Danny Ings, Southampton’s goalscorer supreme, was ruthless in scoring the first and then creating the second for Stuart Armstrong. By the time Nathan Redmond, who was assisted by Michael Obafemi, got the third, Norwich had lost much of their shape and most of their fight. As with all teams in this restarted campaign, there are understandable reasons for Norwich being below their best. The absence of supporters cannot have helped, while the summer heat will not suit their pressing intensity.
As they were torn apart again and again in the second half, though, the easier explanation was that they are still not good enough.
It was made more of a shame for Daniel Farke’s side because they had started well, creating a series of chances and worrying Southampton at first. But, gradually, Southampton were able to take control of both the ball and the territory.
The visitors were aided by the relentless instructions of their manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl, who used the empty stadium to prove he has the booming voice to match his hulking frame.
In almost every moment of the game, Hasenhuttl’s voice provided the soundtrack. At one moment he was telling his players when to pass, at others he was telling them when to press. The assist to Armstrong for the second goal came after Hasenhuttl had yelled at Ings to play it wide. Ings followed orders, and Armstrong found a corner.
Norwich were need of such direction as Teemu Pukki had two brief glimpses of goal but he was hesitant on the first and closed down on the second. It was not sharp enough for Norwich, and certainly not good enough for a relegation battle. (© Daily Telegraph, London)