Clash of the form teams
Chris Lakey Norwich City put the best away form in the Championship on the line at Cardiff this lunchtime when they face the team currently proving invincible at home.
Norwich City put the best away form in the Championship on the line at Cardiff this lunchtime when they face the team currently proving invincible at home.
The Canaries are unbeaten in five away games and have kept three consecutive clean sheets at the back end of a run which has seen them go 11 league games unbeaten.
But Cardiff are top of the current form league - and have won their last five games in front of their partisan fans, scoring 10 goals and conceding just two.
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It's the best home form versus the best away. Something has to give - and Canaries boss Glenn Roeder is hoping his philosophy of building from the back will help the Canaries continue their remarkable rise from the bowels of the Championship into the safety of mid-table - and possibly beyond.
“We had a bit of good fortune at Southampton in keeping a clean sheet because they missed a penalty, but generally speaking we have defended very well, and that is not just the goalkeeper and the back four, it's the midfield in front of them also, the two banks of four which cut the opposition down to few chances,” Roeder said.
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“All the best teams are built on clean sheets - it is no coincidence that teams that win the Premier League concede the fewest goals.
“If you are starting a game thinking, 'we are not going to concede', then we have only got to score one to win.
“If you are running down the tunnel knowing that week in, week out you are letting in two or three it's 'we have a hard job here today, we have to score four goals just to win a game', and that happens once a year, if that.
“All successful teams are built on defence, no matter what the entertainers say. Let the entertainers entertain and let the winners win.”
Roeder comes up against an old foe today in striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who, at 35, is still three years younger than City's own super-vet Dion Dublin, who will be called on for a full shift again in the absence of Jamie Cureton.
“I always thought Jimmy was an exceptional talent,” he said. “He used to be a thorn in West Ham's side when he was at Chelsea, he plays with raw enthusiasm and motivation. He can look pretty mean at times on a football pitch.”
Dublin starts alongside Ched Evans, but even with a midweek fixture next week against Hull, Roeder is not concerned at over-working one of his prized assets.
“He has played three games in a week this season and done more than well,” Roeder added.
“He is at the top of his form at the moment and we need him - we need him whether Jamie Cureton is fit or not.”
t Today's game kicks off at noon because Wales are playing Scotland in a Six Nations rugby match at the nearby Millennium Stadium.