Norwich City boss Chris Hughton looking to push on after stopping rot
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Chris Hughton is acutely aware Norwich City need to pick up the Premier League pace again to avoid becoming embroiled in the heat of a gathering relegation battle.
City’s 0-0 home draw against Newcastle was their first point in 15 after a tough festive season, but the Canaries head to Liverpool still residing in relative mid-table security.
Hughton knows how quickly that can change with every club below them, bar Paul Lambert’s struggling Aston Villa, earning tangible reward for their efforts over the weekend.
“Absolutely, there is a danger (of being sucked down),” he said. “There are certainly more positives than negatives at the moment but we have to play well enough to get the points to stay clear of that at the bottom.
“If you aren’t able to then it is not only us but anybody can get dragged into that. If you take the positives then that is certainly the clean sheet. I felt we deserved that because we were up against a team that always scores goals; a team that has been to Old Trafford and scored three goals and scored three at the Emirates.
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“You look at the quality they have got when someone like (Yohan) Cabaye came come off the bench, who is one of their main providers. As a team and a unit we defended really well. I can’t think of a save that Mark Bunn has had to make.”
City’s defensive resolve was in stark contrast to their fitful attacking thrusts at Carrow Road.
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“The thing that disappointed me and frustrated me was we got into some really good areas in that final third,” said Hughton. “I think if our quality had been there and we had shown that little bit of composure you would have seen us win the game. We didn’t test the keeper often enough, but I certainly felt over the game we were the better team. You need to score goals to win football matches and we were not able to do that. If we weren’t able to win the game we had to make sure we didn’t lose it because we have had a tough Christmas and we wanted to get back to winning ways.”
Hughton also pinpointed the collective failings of Norwich’s usual deadly accuracy from set pieces against the Magpies.
“I was disappointed with our set plays. The delivery has been very good but they let us down,” he said. “Was there any reason for that? No, unfortunately it was just one of those days. Newcastle were the same. It certainly wasn’t down to a lack of endeavour. Probably the best chance of the game was when (Anthony) Pilkington had a shot and Tim Krul showed what a quality keeper he is.
“There was possibly a lack of confidence in our attacking play. At times we needed to show more quality with that final ball but where I am happy is that we did get into good areas.”
Hughton, however, insisted City’s lack of precision at the sharp end was not a cause for underlying concern with stiff league tests on the horizon to come at Anfield and then Champions League-chasing Tottenham at home.
“I would certainly be a lot more worried and a lot more disappointed if we were not getting into those type of areas,” he said. “There was a few times when we got into a three versus two situation and it was the final ball. In that second half period we might have got Robert or Wes (Hoolahan) through on two or three occasions, but we were up against good defenders and I thought their centre halves defended very well. They played quite a high line but there was still three occasions when it looked like we had got ourselves in.”