Norwich City and Aston Villa are both feeding on slim goal rations
08:00 02 March 2014
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The comparison between Norwich City’s elusive hunt for goals and a relative drought at Aston Villa is not lost on Chris Hughton.
Even the Canaries’ relatively sparse two-goal output during the month of February is double Villa’s own meagre return, with the fearsome Christian Benteke’s fading fortunes symptomatic of the same struggles endured by the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper.
The Belgian has scored three times in the past five months and looks a pale imitation of the man who terrorised the Canaries and the rest of the top flight last season in a 19-goal debut campaign.
“The obvious thing you would say is simply that he is a striker and those spells happen,” said Hughton. “Is he any less a player than he was last season? No. it goes like that during your career. He is a super striker and everybody knows that he will continue to score goals. He is just in one of those difficult moments. From our point of view I think it is important we are scoring goals as a team. It is about a contribution right throughout the side, form our wide players, from set pieces, and not just the strikers.”
City’s enviable defensive solidity in recent weeks has insulated them in their on-going efforts to add a genuine attacking edge, and Hughton has praised the impact of loan recruit Joseph Yobo.
“I think what Joseph has shown since he has come in is what we all expected. He is not a centre half that is going to go marauding up the pitch. He is a very experienced, solid centre half and I think we have benefited from that,” said Hughton. “He has walked into the place as an international player and he has shown everyone why that is the case.
“They’ve got a lot of very good offensive options. Perhaps they have found it more difficult at home because they are very good on the counter-attack.”
Grant Holt’s presence in the opposition ranks this weekend, however, serves ti underline City’s search for greater productivity spans Hughton’s entire pell at Carrow Road. The Norwich chief accepts the focus on both Holt and his predecessor Paul Lambert is inevitable.
“Certainly for us it doesn’t add any extra spice. It is a game we want to win, whether it was Villa or Stoke or Sunderland or Southampton, so in that respect it is no different,” he said. “I know many will look at Paul and Grant and the previous connections both had to this club but ultimately it is about winning a game. Holty is a good player and Paul knows him better than anyone so no I am not surprised he has had another chance at the Premier League. All I’m interested in is making sure we put ourselves in a position to play well, be determined and try to score goals. We have been in good form, without getting the results, but we did that against Tottenham and confidence is high. We need to now turn that into wins.
• Former Norwich City midfielder Darel Russell has signed a two-year contract with North American Soccer League (NASL) side Tampa Bay Rowdies.