A perfect way for Norwich City to get Aston Villa defeat out of the system

Norwich City players congratulate Anthony Pilkington after the first goal against Wigan. Norwich City players congratulate Anthony Pilkington after the first goal against Wigan.

Iwan Roberts
Friday, December 21, 2012
5:24 PM

The win against Wigan last Saturday was the perfect way for everybody to get over the disappointment of being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Aston Villa.

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It was exactly the response Chris Hughton would have wanted from his players, and they didn’t let him down. It was as convincing a 2-1 victory as you could ever wish to have, and had Wigan gone back up to the north west with a point it would have been smash and grab job.

The lads were well worthy of the three points as they were by far the better team on the day and deserved nothing less. If it hadn’t been for some heroics by Ali Al Habsi in the Wigan goal the game would have been dead and buried before Shaun Maloney equalised after Anthony Pilkington’s very well taken opening goal for the Canaries.

All credit to the players, their heads didn’t drop after Maloney brought Wigan back on level terms and they thoroughly deserved to score the next and winning goal, and what a collector’s item it was. I’m not too sure how many headed goals Wes has scored – not only in the Norwich City shirt but in his entire career – but I’m sure you could probably count them on one hand!

Roberto Martinez would have given his defenders a real telling off for letting the smallest man on the field calmly nod an inch perfect cross by Pilkington past the helpless Al Habsi for the winning goal.

It was just what Wes deserved after his performances and I’ve said all along Norwich are a much better side with him in it.

The win against the Latics meant the team stretched their unbeaten streak in the Premier League to 10 games, which really is a fantastic effort and one that is only bettered in the whole of Europe by Spanish giants Barcelona.

Tomorrow afternoon it’s a trip up to the Midlands to face West Bromwich Albion.

Steve Clark took over at The Hawthorns in the summer, and it’s been his first managerial post after being assistant manager at the likes of Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. He is widely regarded as one of the best coaches around, but people weren’t too sure if he could make the step up to be a number one. To be fair to Steve he has taken to the role like a duck to water, and WBA made a great start to the season, mixing it up there with the top four for a few weeks.

However, the form has slightly slowed down as they have lost two of their last three games, failing to find the net once in 270 minutes of Premier League action.

So, it might be a good time to play the Baggies in the first of four games over the 11 busy days of the Christmas period.

• DURHAM’S PREDICTION OF DOOM FOR CANARIES IS ILL-FOUNDED

I had a good old footballing debate last Thursday with Peterborough fan and Talk Sport presenter Adrian Durham.

He’s quite an outspoken character and will always air his views, although on a few occasions I believe he says things to provoke a reaction from listeners to his always entertaining show. Last week he asserted via twitter that “all the teams below Norwich except Reading will get better second half of season. Norwich have peaked. That’s why I think they’ll go down.”

To say I was slightly bemused would be a severe understatement, so I decided to ask him what his reasons were for such an unexpected prediction; after all Norwich were on a nine-game unbeaten run (very soon to be ten)!

He pointed out to me and many other Norwich supporters the following:

• The team is conceding too many goals, especially in their last two games (“conceded 7 in 2, start of the rot”).

• The loss of John Ruddy for up to three months.

• Grant Holt not scoring as many goals as he did last year.

My answers to him were quite simple and straight to the point. Yes the team conceded seven goals last week; three of those came against Swansea who Norwich put four past, in the process taking the three points which somewhat deem the goals against irrelevant.

Even more telling is that since conceding nine goals against Liverpool and Chelsea at the beginning of October, the lads had only conceded seven in their last nine games, including clean sheets against Arsenal and Manchester United; the latter a side who has scored 43 goals in 17 games.

Yes, big John would be missed by any club as he has shown himself to be a top class keeper. However, Mark Bunn has already shown in his brief run of games that he’s more than capable of filling in while the big man recovers from surgery.

As for Holty not scoring as many goals, we’re not yet halfway through the season, and with other players contributing goals the team are not so dependent on Grant getting goals every game. Needless to say I didn’t hear too much back from Mr Durham, especially after the victory against Wigan which took the club to 25 points after 17 games.

It really does frustrate me that the club and the players do not get the credit they deserve.

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