It’s already a season to remember for Norwich City
The Canaries made the long journey to Middlesbrough yesterday on the back of a marvellous display against QPR two days earlier.
City gave one of their best performances of the season against Neil Warnock’s men on New Year’s Day, with the standard of the football they produced at both ends of the pitch being all the more impressive given that it was delivered against the runaway league leaders.
It merely re-emphasised that this Norwich team need fear no-one this season, and are more than capable of giving any team in the Championship a run for their money in this division if they play to their potential.
Considering that City raised the bar so high on Saturday though, it might have been asking a bit too much to expect City to hit those same heights again so soon afterwards.
Then again, considering how well they have played so far this season, and also how positively the current campaign has developed, perhaps it shouldn’t have come as any great surprise either to witness the team duly stepping up to the plate once again and ultimately securing another precious result?
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In terms of the game itself it wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination.
City started brightly and they deservedly put themselves in front courtesy of Grant Holt’s 12th goal of the season.
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By contrast, Middlesbrough seemed reluctant to try to put the Canaries under any real pressure, and they only came to life after Julio Arca’s attempted through ball deflected wickedly off Leon Barnett to draw them back on level terms.
The remainder of the contest can probably be best summed up by saying that City essentially enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but without overly testing their hosts at the back, likewise with Tony Mowbray’s men, who mustered the occasional attacking move but without ever really threatening to grab the winner either.
And also when mistakes often proved to be the undoing of both side’s best intents, meaning that the game never really caught fire and where genuine goalscoring chances proved preciously few and far between.
However, any point that you earn away from home isn’t to be scoffed at. And seven points secured from a possible nine over the festive period by Norwich is undoubtedly an excellent return.
Understandably, they weren’t at their fluent best, but there’s no denying that the Canaries worked very hard yesterday and they were very professional.
And it goes without saying that they have been brilliant so far this season and have surpassed even the widest expectations – no two ways about it.
Second from top in the Championship table at any stage of the campaign pretty much speaks for itself.
And no matter what happens between now and the end of the season, no-one can take anything away from City for this incredible achievement.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – MICHAEL NELSON: John Ruddy performed very well between the sticks yesterday. His catching was safe and assured, he made a couple of very good saves and he was alive and alert on the occasions he was called into action. But Nelson just pips the City ‘keeper for my money.
He was strong in the air, solid in the tackle and regularly first to the ball when it was being played into the feet of the Middlesbrough strikers. And he also impressed with his positioning at centre-back on account of reading the game so well.