Friday, February 22, 2013
Any goal will do for Norwich City as they bid to end a run of nine Premier League games without victory, according to defender Sébastien Bassong.
The Canaries face Everton at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm), looking for their first league win since beating strugglers Wigan 2-1 on December 15.
Bassong headed a last-minute equaliser when the two clubs drew 1-1 at Goodison Park in November, the first of three goals he scored in the space of four games.
But the goals have dried up for both the centre-half and for City, who have scored just once in six matches in all competitions.
Like manager Chris Hughton, the 26-year-old Bassong will settle for City finding the net any way they can tomorrow if it means three points to push them further away from the relegation battlers.
“I don’t mind how we’re going to win games,” said Bassong. “If it’s going to be a scrappy goal, I don’t mind that because the only thing that matters for me is to get the three points at the end of the game.
“I know you all analyse and criticise and say Norwich are not playing that well. I don’t mind that. The only thing that matters for me is winning games. If we have to defend for 90 minutes and put the ball in the net in the last minute, I’ll take that.
“As a team we have to dig deep. We’re not a team with the best individuality or quality in the Premier League to be able not to dig deep. We have to put a good shift in to get a win. That’s what we did for all the wins we’ve had and that’s what we’re going to do again. It’s our game.”
Bassong has just six goals in English football – he also scored three for former club Tottenham – and admits he would love to add to that tally.
But City’s indifferent form since Christmas has forced him to concentrate more on his defensive duties.
He said: “I’m trying hard to score but I think the luck has gone or something. But I’m more focused on defending well at the moment. I’m not going forward so much lately because we haven’t been on a great run, so I think I’d better be focused on keeping the shape and if everything is going well I might be tempted to go up again.
“We need to score goals. We’ve kept a lot of clean sheets and altogether we’ve got to try to be more effective in the final third, to put the ball in the net. As soon as we start scoring, I think everything is going to be all right.
“We have been through some bad moments but the most important thing is we don’t make it last too long.
“We’ve drawn the last three. I don’t think we’re really far away from a win. Sometimes it’s just the details. Sometimes the luck can be with you. When we were unbeaten for 10 games, we won some games with a lot of luck so now it’s the other way round. It happens in football.”
But Bassong warned that City could not ignore the risk of being dragged into a survival battle.
“I think we’ve got to think about it because it can come quicker than we think,” he said. “You can find yourself at the bottom without realising you are there, so we have to be positive, keep believing in ourselves, keep doing what we know we can do but always looking behind us and thinking the other teams won’t give up. If we’re not playing to our maximum, we might find ourselves down there.”
Hughton is equally aware that three points are much better than one.
“We need to start turning some of our draws into wins. We are at the business end of the season in a very difficult league where other teams are winning games. We need to make sure the gap that we have had to the bottom three is something we can maintain and get the wins we need to stay clear of it,” he said.
After a fortnight without a game, which included City’s training stint in Abu Dhabi, Hughton would not confirm whether he plans to switch formations and play two strikers tomorrow. But skipper Grant Holt (back) and winger Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) have both recovered from the injuries that forced them to miss the 0-0 draw at home to Fulham a fortnight ago.
Hughton has concerns, however, over midfield pair Alex Tettey and Andrew Surman. Norway international Tettey has not trained for the past two days after suffering a knock, while Surman could return to training today after a slight knee problem.
For Everton, full-backs Seamus Coleman and Tony Hibbert are the long-term injury worries, while Nigerian striker Victor Anichebe was forced off with injury in the 2-2 draw against Oldham in the FA Cup.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard is set for his 300th appearance for Everton in all competitions.