Iwan Roberts: Norwich City’s never-say-die spirit is still there for all to see
It’s been a tough week for the lads with two very difficult away games at Everton last Saturday and Southampton on Wednesday night.
They did so well to come away from both unbeaten, taking a point in each game to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.
We are now just over a quarter of the way through the season having played 14 games, and Norwich City have exactly the same amount of points now as they did at the same point last season.
They scored nine more goals after 14 games last season, but they also conceded six more goals than they have done this term. They sit in 13th in the Premier League, but it’s all so very tight with only four points difference between Norwich City and Southampton who occupy the third relegation position.
Goodison Park is always a hard place to go and get a result, but that’s exactly what the lads did last weekend.
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They have shown over the last three years that they keep going until the very last kick of the game and never know when they are beaten and, even though there’s a new man in charge of the team, that never say die attitude is still evident. It was proved once again with a last minute goal from Sebastien Bassong securing a well-deserved point against David Moyes’ men.
Even though Southampton haven’t had a good start to the season it was always going to be a tough game down at St Mary’s.
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They had won their last two games so were full of confidence going into the game against Chris Hughton’s men.
I was down at Southampton a few weeks ago when Swansea were the visitors and I was very impressed by what I had seen from the Saints.
Looking back at that game they really should have beaten the Swans, but you couldn’t help but admire the way they attacked. The one thing I wasn’t impressed with was their defending, which has been their downfall for much of the season.
Once again the lads showed great character to come from behind, with the Saints talisman Ricky Lambert firing the home side ahead.
The lads were quick to reply though, and yes, there was a bit of fortune when Robert Snodgrass fired the Canaries level just on the stroke of half time.
Southampton’s young Argentinian goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga really should have dealt with the Scotsman’s tame free kick, but every Canary fan would have been delighted when they saw the ball squirm under his body and into the back of the net.
It was good to see Mark Clattenburg officiating at St Mary’s for the first time since being accused of racially abusing John Obi-Mikel over a month ago. I said a few weeks ago that I would have been shocked had Clattenburg been found guilty of this, and I was proved correct when the FA dropped all charges against the referee.
I think Chelsea handled the whole situation with real naivety, and I thought it was poor of them as a football club not to apologise to Mark, instead coming out with a statement saying they “regret” the whole matter when really the simple words “we’re sorry” would have been suitable.
Of course any allegation of racism should be investigated thoroughly by the FA, and Chelsea were 100pc right in making sure they dealt with the case. However, they should have took time to analyse the situation and ensured that Clattenburg had a case to answer for before coming out publicly with such serious allegations.
I was sad to see that John Ruddy will be out until possibly the end of February with a thigh injury that requires surgery. I think he’s been struggling with this for a few weeks, not that you could have seen this in any of his performances. It’s five clean sheets already this season for big John, only Joe Hart, Petr Cech, and Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic have more. John will be missed, but with Mark Bunn, Declan Rudd and Jed Steer, Chris Hughton has plenty of capable ‘keepers to take John’s place.
Sunday provides the lads with a great opportunity to extend their unbeaten run to eight games in the league.
Former Norwich boss Martin O’Neil brings his struggling Sunderland side down to Carrow Road.
They are on a shocking run, winning only one of their last nine games and really are struggling to score goals. Martin spent a lot of money in the summer when he bought Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher (�24m for the pair) to the Stadium of Light.
Johnson has really struggled since his move from Manchester City and, after scoring five goals in his first four games for the Black Cats, Fletcher has only scored once since.
One thing for sure is that if the lads show the same grit and determination as they have done on the road this week then I’m convinced they can take all three points against Sunderland.