West Ham’s Matt Jarvis is the dangerman, says Norwich City boss Chris Hughton
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Chris Hughton has identified Matt Jarvis as the key man for the Canaries to stop this afternoon at Upton Park.
The 26-year-old scored at Carrow Road last season for his previous club Wolves and was also a major source of irritation in the corresponding Premier League fixture before Christmas in the Black Country.
Jarvis inevitably moved on in the summer following relegation, and Hughton is an admirer of the one-time England international’s ability from wide areas.
Russell Martin’s goalscoring heroics caught the imagination in Norwich’s weekend 4-3 Premier League reverse to Manchester City, but it is the dependable full-back’s defensive instincts that could be tested in the East End.
“West Ham is a good side,” said Hughton. “They have dipped a little of late, but they are a strong side at home. They can mix up their game. They have a good balance of play up front, with hitting Carlton Cole, and then working off players. They are a side that will look at times to be direct and offensive with Jarvis in a wide area getting in crosses. I expect a really tough game at their place.
“Russell is someone who has played a lot of games (for the club). He is one of those lads, like Holty, who have been here a long period of time and made telling contributions. It was good to have him back (against Manchester City), particularly with Steven Whittaker (hip injury) likely miss the next few games.”
Martin is also poised to retain the captaincy if Hughton opts not to risk Holt after an injury-hit festive spell for the skipper.
Holt was linked with a summer move to the Hammers before thrashing out a longer term deal to stay in Norfolk and Hughton believes the striker’s all-round game this season has underlined what a crucial piece of business that proved to be.
“I’m pleased we kept hold of him,” he said. “He has been very good for this football club, which is why the endeavours in the summer were to keep hold of him. It is touch and go whether he will be fit to play against West Ham, but we need him back and available in the squad.
“He has been similar to last season where he was slow starting and then got into really good form and his goalscoring came in that period. It’s a little bit of a blow to miss him when he was in good form again, but these are things you have to cope with.”
The Hammers’ will definitely be without some key performers through injury and suspension, but Hughton has little sympathy given their scheduled Boxing Day game at Arsenal was postponed.
“I would have preferred West Ham had played the same amount of games, but as Reading proved it doesn’t always work out that way,” he said.
“If you have been able to rest players, I think we would all take that opportunity. We can only influence our side of things. Away from home it is always a difficult place to go.
“We will need to try and get back to what we do best. We have shown some good form away from home. Against West Brom we just didn’t quite have enough, but I see it is another wonderful challenge.”
Hughton accepts a trip to one the division’s new boys should not hold any fears after difficult festive tests against the Baggies and title-chasing duo Chelsea and Manchester City.
“Clubs like ourselves always look at a scalp against the big ones as a bonus. We did well to get two against Arsenal and Manchester United, but we are not unrealistic,” he said.
“The positives very much are that when we went on the unbeaten run people inside the club did not underestimate how good that was and how well we did to amass so many points.
“We knew there would be periods when we have a bit of a low. We have just played West Brom, who are having a fantastic season, plus we have played the Champions League winners and the Premier League winners in consecutive games and we have been in all three games.
“They have been tight affairs we have lost by one goal.
“We are just in a period perhaps when things are not going our way.”