Matt Howman: The Norwich City tale of ifs, buts and maybes continues

Lukas Rupp spurns a golden chance when through on goal against Liverpool as the German elected to pass to Teemu Pukki rather than have a shot on goal himself. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Lukas Rupp spurns a golden chance when through on goal against Liverpool as the German elected to pass to Teemu Pukki rather than have a shot on goal himself. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

When your team is sitting at the foot of the table, the worst goal difference in the league and playing the European champions, club World Cup champions and soon to be Premier League champions, it would be perfectly acceptable to see that particular fixture as a write-off.

Although, to take into account all of those factors and win the game would have been a completely Norwich thing to do. And when it's at Carrow Road there is always hope.

As Jose Mourinho has shown time and time again, you don't necessarily need to be the side with the most chances or possession to win a game, you just have to punish the opposition when your chances come.

So, when recently signed Lukas Rupp took down a beautifully clipped ball over the top from Kenny McLean with a fine first touch to go through on goal, that was the moment where we should have laid down the marker for another Man City-esque miracle.

With so much time in the game remaining it would have been a tall ask to see it through, but sadly it is simply another one for the long list of ifs, buts and maybes that we have had to contend with this season.

However, what we can take from Saturday's game was that it was a performance that the whole club should be proud of. It underlined how much this squad of players has developed since the season's curtain-raiser way back in August.

Only three players from the starting line-up that night didn't feature in the return fixture. What a contrast those performances were.

On the opening night Liverpool carved us open at will in that first half. Norwich came out more resilient and won the second, but for Liverpool it was job done after 45 minutes. It looked like the Premier League elite against a plucky Championship side.

In contrast, Saturday evening resembled a true Premier League clash. The unbeatables against a lower half side looking to earn a point. Not the unbeatables against the cannon fodder of the division.

So, with pride also comes frustration. The same squad of players who beat Man City, cruised past Everton, saw off Bournemouth and almost became part of an exclusive club to deny Liverpool a win this season, are the same squad of players that dropped six points to Aston Villa, lost to Watford in their torrid run of form and the same again versus Southampton.

It is frustrating looking at the table and seeing that after 26 games Aston Villa have only lost one game less than us, yet sit seven points better off.

It is imperative when you're down the bottom that you don't lose the six-pointers and I think for all of the twists and turns, ups and downs over the season, there are only a handful of games that will be where the season is won and lost, and we haven't won any of them, yet.

Next up takes us away to Wolves and it looks like six wins in 12 will be the minimum required to give us a fighting chance.

Our fixture is sandwiched between two Europa league matches against Espanyol so we may be able to benefit from playing a rotated squad.

Wolves this season have only won eight league matches however, conversely, they have only lost six in 26, losing only to Watford and Liverpool in the new year.

Us fans will now be wondering which Norwich will turn up this one. Will it be the team that plays confident, incisive passes to break through the lines or the team that looks nervous in possession?

Will it be the team who defends diligently, remains organised and resolute or the team that's often under pressure, shipping the average two goals a game?

The reverse fixture saw us dominate Wolves in the first half - replicate that over the 90 minutes and we might just be left with five wins needed in 11.

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