Norwich City out to make it 13th time lucky
Norwich City’s capital pain has eased slightly in recent years – and they will be hoping to make it 13th time lucky when they travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The Canaries suffered a winless six years in London before Darel Russell’s strike earned a rare three points at Queens Park Rangers in March 2009 – during a campaign that ultimately ended in Championship relegation.
City will travel to the capital this weekend having won twice in 29 attempts thanks to the 1-0 win at Charlton towards the end of last season that confirmed their promotion back to the second tier at the first attempt.
And Norwich’s record away to the Eagles is arguably worse.
Palace have kept City at bay in their last 12 competitive visits to Selhurst Park, beating them nine times and drawing the other three games. The Canaries’ last win came in the final game of the 1995-96 season – following City chairman Robert Chase’s acrimonious departure – thanks to David Hopkin’s own goal. However, for a current Norwich side capable of regularly surpassing expectations and one that has produced the goods on their travels since manager Paul Lambert took charge, past records are likely to count for little – according to former City star Daryl Sutch, who played in Norwich’s victory almost 15 years ago.
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“As a player those runs don’t really mean anything,” said Sutch. “You always try to prepare for a game the same, wherever it is. On certain occasions you’ll have different tactics to counter the opposition.
“Having seen the current Norwich team, they’re winning a lot of games away from home. So they are going to go down there full of confidence and in all honesty I wouldn’t have thought they would even know how long it’s been since there has been a win at Palace.
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“You don’t want to know about these runs as a player, really. All managers are different but Paul Lambert is always extremely focused on the game in hand, and that shows in the team.
“They’re playing fantastically well together, playing some great stuff and playing without any fear – and that is important, especially when you are playing away from home, because there can be times when certain stadiums can be quite intimidating.
“But he gets their mindset spot on every time.”
Only goal difference is keeping the Canaries outside the Championship’s automatic promotion places – far from a false position for last season’s League One champions as far as Sutch is concerned.
“Where they are in the league is no fluke,” he added. “They are there because Paul Lambert has got them set up well and they are playing fantastically well as a team.
“They’ve got a hunger and self-belief, and like the great teams that Norwich have had in the past, there is a real togetherness there – and it shows on the pitch.”
Palace have the chance to become the first side to complete a league double over the Canaries under Paul Lambert, after picking up a 2-1 win at Carrow Road earlier in the season – three points that came without arguably their most valuable asset, former Ipswich Town forward Darren Ambrose. Despite the threat of relegation looming over the Eagles, their home record is not dissimilar to City’s, with three draws and four defeats – while they have not conceded a goal in the past five home matches. And Palace are yet to lose a home fixture this season that Ambrose has started.