Iwan Roberts: Norwich City deserve all the plaudits, despite Arsenal defeat
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Football can be a very cruel game at times and there was no better example of this than what happened at The Emirates on Tuesday night.
There is no doubt in my mind – and those of the 9,000-plus Norwich fans who made the journey down to north London – that City should have gone through to the last eight of the Carabao Cup. Sadly it wasn’t to be, thanks to Arsenal’s teenage sensation Eddy Nketiah.
Arsenal didn’t look like getting back into the game until Arsene Wenger introduced the 18-year-old with just five minutes of normal time remaining, and it took the virtual unknown just 15 seconds to give Arsenal a lifeline.
Nketiah scored his and Arsenal’s second six minutes into extra-time to send them into the quarter finals, something they hardly deserved on the night, but it was Daniel Farke and his players who came away from The Emirates on the night getting all the plaudits, and rightly so after a quite superb performance.
After five games of the season Norwich were third from bottom of the Championship, having won just four points, and it looked very much like being a long old winter, and season. However, after that magnificent win against the old enemy at Portman Road last Sunday, they now sit in a play-off position: the turnaround in the club’s fortunes has been quite remarkable.
There are two big home games coming up for the Canaries, with Derby on Saturday and then top-of-the-table, big spending Wolves on Tuesday. I used to enjoy playing against Derby; ask any Leicester City fan, I loved scoring against them for the Foxes.
The very first hat-trick of my professional career was scored for Leicester against Derby and I achieved that feat in just 28 minutes – and the Leicester fans still sing about it: “Oh, Iwan is a Welshman, he wears a Welshman’s hat, he lives next door to Joachim (Julian) and he lives in a council flat. He scores them with his left foot, he scores them with his right, and when he played the Derby he scores all blooming* night.”
I remember an important penalty I scored against Derby at Carrow Road back in our promotion season. We were losing the game 1-0 with nine minutes to go when we were awarded a spot-kick. I’d only been on the pitch for seven minutes, coming on for big Peter Crouch, but I immediately grabbed the ball, full of confidence.
I was that confident I missed with my first attempt – well, Lee Grant saved it. But he moved far too early and I was allowed to take it again. Having tried to place the first I decided just to smash my second attempt straight down the middle into the back of the net.
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Carrow Road erupted, but it was in no comparison to the noise that the yellow army made when Phil Mulryne scored the winner in the very last minute.
* You can use whichever word you like here...
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There was a big talking point after Tuesday night’s game between Bristol City and Crystal Palace and it had nothing to do with anything that happened in the 90 minutes.
After being hammered 4-1, some of the Palace players, including Pape Souare (who has just returned to the starting line-up after a horrific car crash that nearly took his life), headed towards their fans. Souare took his shirt off and threw it into the middle of them, only for the fan who caught it to throw it straight back at him in disgust after a shambolic Palace performance. All credit to Souare for walking over and thanking the supporters, but did he really think it was the wisest decision in throwing his shirt into the crowd after losing 4-1?
I’ve heard people call the supporter who threw the shirt back a disgrace, but I totally disagree. He travelled to Bristol to support his team and witnessed a spineless performance from the Palace players and, let’s be honest, it’s not the first time this season that Palace have been embarrassing and he was obviously angry and very frustrated and quite clearly didn’t want a souvenir to take home – so he returned the shirt to its rightful owner.