Norwich City 0 Albion 1

Albion's productive use of an unprecedented break in fixtures has left them poised to secure Premier League safety.

And a rather shorter timeout did them no harm in this precious win at Carrow Road.

Project Restart? Well some of the teams below the Seagulls seem to be stuck on pause after a 15-week gap in fixtures resulting from coronavirus.

Albion’s return to action has brought them seven points from 12.

They have really tough games to come but the cheers we heard from support staff and players not involved on the pitch at the time told what this result meant as Stuart Attwell brought an end to proceedings.

Leandro Trossard’s deft finish of a low Aaron Mooy cross on 25 minutes established a lead which was preserved without alarm until added time, when Adam Idah headed against the inside of the post.

Albion very rarely got into their footballing flow and will want to be much better from that perspective.

But there is steel about them – and defensive flexibility as was shown by substitutions to counteract Norwich’s late push.

That is now five consecutive games unbeaten away from home in the top flight for only the second time in the club’s history and the first in a single season.

They have also kept three successive clean sheets on their travels, a sequence they have never bettered across almost seven seasons in the Premier League and old First Division.

No one is trying to say lockdown was a good thing just because it helped Albion improve their results. Of course not.

But, if ever a team were in a position where they could benefit from the novelty of effectively two pre-seasons – one at the start and then a reset before the final push – it was the Seagulls in this transitionary period.

You make the best of your situation and Albion, who went into lockdown after a creditable 0-0 draw at Wolves, have come back impressively.

As a club, they were assured and pro-active during the stoppage. Leaders in some respects.

Perhaps that confidence and clarity rubbed off on the players as they were carefully guided through what turned into 105 days between matches.

Dan Burn has spoken about the sense of purpose which greeted them when they returned for those first training sessions in small, distanced groups.

Potter said of lockdown: “It is a staged process. We were all a little bit disappointed at where we were at the close, if you like.

“We felt we could have had more points but it was where it was.

“We had picked up too many draws. The fine lines were against us and you have to turn those around with hard work.

“With the pandemic we went through, you have to deal with the person first. Make sure everybody is okay, their family is okay and then try to analyse what we have done well, what we can do better and try to work with that.

“Put an idea forward that is clear and we focus on that.

“I try to put some perspective on things, try to understand that this is the Premier League and it is hard, especially when you transition from a previous coach, previous regime that has been here for four years and you are trying to change different things.

“In that transition, a lot of things can happen but generally I think we have stuck together, we have learnt a lot together and we will improve. It is about perspective, I think, and then just making sure you are doing as well as you can to help the players understand what they need to do to get the job done.”

Potter believes Leandro Trossard has benefited from that pause and the environment around the club during it.

The Belgian shone off the bench against Manchester United in midweek and secured a start at Carrow Road in the process.

He and Mooy played wide and ahead of the fulcrum of Yves Bissouma and Davy Propper.

The Argus:

Trossard got across his full back Max Aarons to meet Mooy’s low delivery after Neal Maupay had played linkman to send the Aussie away.

Those who follow Norwich pinpointed Timm Klose’s stray pass, which was picked off by Bissouma.

But Maupay’s part in a Trossardesque pocket of space was also important.

The drinks break has been introduced as part of Project Restart but it also serves as a timeout.

The Argus:

Potter is not keen on it continuing but maybe players and those who sell TV adverts will be.

For now, though, it is there and is a chance to address one or two minor details.

Potter said: “As the game unfolds, you need to tweak things now and again.

“We had to drop Neal a little bit more into midfield in the first half after the water break and then we got a reward from winning the ball and breaking on them.

“They are little tactical things but really it is about the players playing the ball, playing the action, staying in the moment, staying focussed.

“The principles we have, regardless of the system, stay the same. They are always consistent.”

Albion should have made more of other promising situations and created more chances. Neither keeper was busy in an increasingly tense contest.

Bissouma stung Tim Krul’s palms with a shot and there were a couple of near things from set-pieces.

Aaron Connolly thrashed a half volley over the bar very early on and Burn somehow forced the ball wide with his back when he looked set to head home a perfect Mooy delivery.

Onel Hernandez was a threat for Norwich but their two most renowned game-changers, Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell, remained on the bench longer than expected.

When they went on, Potter took a look and then changed things, lining up five at the back and congesting passing lanes.

He said: “At that time, we thought they were going to come on and it is about seeing what the shape is.

“There is a flexibility in Norwich’s team. We wanted to have a look at that first and then decide from there.”

Pukki and Cantwell never made an impact.

The Argus:

It was the third player introduced at that stage, Idah, who almost grabbed a point when his stoppage-time header hit the inside of the far post.

A goal then would not have saved Norwich from the impending drop but would have been a real dampener for Albion.

Still, Potter always says you need a bit of luck.

They got it there but the climb away from danger has been no fluke.