Forget the away-day debate; it’s what happens at ‘Fortress’ Carrow Road that holds the key to Premier League safetyTue 5 Feb 13 by James Kent
I have always taken the view that a point away in the Premier League is a good result. However, following last Saturday’s draw against QPR it seemed that plenty of Norwich City fans seemed to think it was some sort of travesty.
However, Chris Hughton strikes me as the kind of manager that values getting a point away from home as long as he can get enough home wins. Obviously, critics will point out that it’s been a fair few games since Norwich have won at home.
Nevertheless, it’s always important to keep in mind who you are playing. I think it was only the Newcastle United game that people thought we had a realistic chance of taking all three points in recent matches. And, of course, the home game against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, recently, showed a marked improvement.
This Saturday’s encounter against Fulham offers one of those opportunities to get another three points. It’s one of those games that Chris Hughton would have been targeting for the past few weeks.
I always take the view that taking anything away from a Premier League football match is always an inherently difficult task. However, there seems to be the modern perception that certain games are easy wins. This is certainly not a view that I subscribe to and see that every team comes with their own challenges.
Certainly, every win that Norwich have recorded this season has been extremely hard fought. And if the team records another one against Fulham then it will be a similar story. The social media reaction has been extreme considering that the Canaries still find themselves seven points clear of the relegation zone.
The teams below Norwich in the table have far bigger problems. In fact, it’s fitting that the Canaries have maintained that gap despite not being in the best of form. This goes some way to showing how often those teams manage to win a game themselves.
This may be a bit of an extreme statement, but I don’t think the away games actually matter all that much. As far as I’m concerned, Norwich City will be able to get the job done in their own backyard; but if they could manage another one or two on the road then that would simply serve to make things all that more comfortable.
Nevertheless, if Chris Hughton can keep setting his team up as one that wins the important games at home and is hard to beat on the road, then that seems like a pretty good formula. It’s certainly a way that football managers used to think. In fact, I find it quite refreshing that we can get back to what seems to be the good old days.
Those waters became a little bit murky under Paul Lambert who seemed to be a remarkable difficult man to predict. This applies to everything from team selection to tactics, but it was also hard to predict if his team was most likely to win at home or away.
Of course, that kept things interesting for the fans, but it always made us feel a little bit uncomfortable. Under Hughton, it’s fairly easy to guess what the team and the tactics will be from one week to another. There is, of course, the argument that this also makes it a little bit easier for the opposition to know what they are going to get.
However, that is offset with having a settled team and formation in every game. Nevertheless, some recent games have proved that is not necessarily the way to stop a bad run of form. There is certainly the argument that a few players were burned out by playing an excessive number of games.
Therefore, there is always a negative to playing a settled team from one week to another. However, with some of those players rested against Luton, the energy levels seem to have returned for the game against Spurs and QPR, especially in the all-important midfield area.
So, in my book, Norwich City are back on track and can hopefully record their next win against Fulham. I also think that Hughton’s strategies are solid enough in principle; he has received plenty of criticism for his so-called defensive football. However, by and large it has delivered results this season including the memorial home wins against Manchester United and Arsenal.
It’s also vitally important to keeps things tight in the Premier League. A similar argument goes for the formation; it’s not an inherently defensive system and it suits the players that Norwich has. Targeting home games for wins is also sensible, and that is likely to result in Premier League survival being secured again. So, in summary, Hughton is getting the important things right and some fans just lack perspective in the world of Premier League football.
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