Norwich City boss Chris Hughton prepared for Manchester City backlash
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Chris Hughton is braced for a backlash from Premier League champions Manchester City at Carrow Road this weekend as the Canaries bid to pick up their first points of the festive period.
The Blues’ slumped to a surprise Boxing Day 1-0 defeat at Sunderland and Hughton expects a positive response from Roberto Mancini’s superstars.
Norwich have now lost to West Brom and Chelsea since a 10-match club record Premier League unbeaten run, but Hughton believes his troops are capable of inflicting further damage on the champions’ faltering title defence.
“Man City will want a reaction and we want one here as well,” he said. “The good thing about top players, we can speak about top players costing a lot of money, but they have great attitudes as well.
“I think most would have expected Man City to win that game. At the moment Sunderland are now picking up form and whether it was a deserved win or not the pendulum appears to have turned. Man City will want a reaction and so do we.
“We’re now two games without winning and we want to get back to getting some points again. I don’t think we have to improve an awful lot. In the first half (against Chelsea) we were a little loose on the ball and we have been quite tight during our recent run - which gave Chelsea the opportunity to counter. If I look at our games against the Champions League sides at Carrow Road, it was a very similar one.”
Hughton accepts the Canaries are in the midst of a testing festive period with Manchester City followed by a New Year’s Day trip to West Ham.
“They are tough games, but we knew that and all you hope is that you are in good shape going into those games and we have been,” he said. “The margins are quite small and they are not going in our favour at the moment.
“They were when we were on that run so it comes down to improving those margins and we got a fair few points leading up to this Christmas period.
“We have a very tough one on Saturday and we have to make sure we are right in that as well, and if we are then it gives us a chance.”
Norwich’s 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Chelsea left City on 25 points at the halfway stage of the Premier League season – 10 clear of the current bottom three – but Hughton is too canny to publicly set a target for 2013.
“There is no points target. It is about producing what we have done in the first part of the season,” he said. “We started slowly, but we got a bit of momentum from a good run. We know what we have to do. It is a tough ask because of the quality of this division and the players and teams you are up against.
“We have to replicate more of that in the second part of the season. We have to try and match what we have done and we have to work just as hard because a lot of teams will be pushing. We want to make life as comfortable as we can for ourselves.
“I think if you had offered that to me at the start of the season then, yes, I would have taken that. You only have to look at this Premier League week in, week out and that probably emphasizes just what a good run it was that we went on.”