Norwich City young guns can give Chelsea old guard a game

Football can be a very cruel game at times and it certainly was that on Sunday afternoon.

That last-minute goal by Kenwyne Jones wasn’t what Stoke City deserved and it definitely wasn’t what the lads deserved! For the second successive game Norwich were by far the better team up until the unlucky Leon Barnett was shown a red card for a challenge on Jonathan Walters which was clumsy more than deliberate.

I didn’t have the best view of the incident from my seat in the Jarrold Stand so at the time I wasn’t sure whether it was a foul or not, but what I was convinced of was that it wasn’t a penalty! Maybe the referee had a worse view than I did, but someone who had a perfect one was the assistant referee. I still can’t get used to calling them that!

He was in the perfect position to see that the coming together of the two players was clearly outside the box, but for some reason decided not to get involved.

I don’t think anyone at Carrow Road could believe it when they saw Mr Swarbrick point to the spot, not even the Stoke fans.

Even though big John Ruddy made a tremendous save to thwart Walters, the pattern of the game changed and gave Tony Pulis’ side a lifeline they did not deserve.

I was impressed with the new lads and it shows how flexible Paul Lambert is, making six changes to the team and playing with two natural wingers instead of the diamond in midfield which they went with at Wigan.

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I wouldn’t read too much into Tuesday night’s Carling Cup exit against League One MK Dons, who were outstanding on the night. They haven’t lost a game this season so it was always going to be a test for a much-changed Norwich side. Even though Paul made 11 changes to the team that drew with Stoke, I don’t think any of us envisaged us losing 4-0.

Believe you me, the lads will be very disappointed with the result and the level of their performance.

But I honestly don’t think it is a bad thing being out of the cup as look what happened to Birmingham last season!

They won the Carling Cup, granted, but at the expense of their Premier League status, in my opinion.

I think the priority this season for the Canaries is staying up and if they can, nobody will remember August 23. And, to be fair, over the past two seasons the lads haven’t let anyone down too often.

Tomorrow, a trip to Stamford Bridge is bound to be a tough test for the lads.

On our last two visits to the millionaires of West London we were heavily beaten so let’s hope that with the same solid, gritty, determined performance we saw against the Potters we can come away with our just rewards.

Chelsea haven’t hit top form yet under their new manager, Andr� Villas-Boas.

He is the youngest manager in the Premier League at the tender age of just 33.

His Porto side were unbeaten in the Portuguese league (36 games) and won it by 21 points. Add that to their victory in the Europa League and the Portuguese Cup and you have to say he’s definitely a top, top manager.

However, after a goalless draw at Stoke and a scrappy 2-1 win against WBA six days ago, his ageing squad will once again face a stern test against a Norwich side full of energy and youthfulness.