Just like the good old days for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton after Premier League shut out against Crystal Palace
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Norwich City's battling Premier League win over Crystal Palace evoked some good memories for Chris Hughton.
Gary Hooper’s match-clinching first half strike may have separated the sides at Carrow Road but a third clean sheet of the campaign and the manner of the Canaries’ defensive resolve proved an added bonus for Hughton.
“Yes, the result was the most important thing for me but after that the clean sheet was not far behind,” he said. “I feel we were a little bit more solid last season; we were a very tight unit for a lot of games and we made ourselves difficult to beat. If you keep clean sheets you give yourself a chance.
“It’s a results-business and we had lost some very influential players to injury so it was much-needed. It felt like a big win because it is never comfortable viewing when you are in a position you don’t want to be in the table. To jump up however many places we did was a nice feeling.
“The fact it was against a team around us in the division and ahead of two tough away games was vital. Tony’s (Pulis) teams pressurise the ball from the front so we had to be physical and resilient. He set his side up to be tough to beat but we used the possession very well - then you are looking for that final piece of the jigsaw and I thought we were very composed.”
Martin Olsson’s goal line intervention to divert Barry Bannan’s left-footed shot against the underside of his own bar proved no less pivotal a contribution than Hooper’s calm finish moments earlier.
“We needed Martin to stop that one going in and we were grateful for that,” said Hughton. “On the evidence of the first half I felt we deserved to win. We were better than them but of course it is always about those fine margins. We scored a very good goal and probably needed another one because you knew Palace might go a touch more direct. They did and we gave away a few silly free kicks. We knew we would be under a bit of pressure in the second-half, but I felt we restricted them to very minimal chances.”
Hughton restored Sebastien Bassong to his central defence with Michael Turner making way.
“There were a few things behind that,” said Hughton. “Seb has had a good couple of weeks training and I think with him it was only a matter of time before you bring him back. Michael had a minimal injury that meant he missed a couple of days training during the week which meant he only trained Thursday and Friday.
“He is also on four bookings, and I just felt that was a situation I needed to manoeuvre a little bit. He is fine and comes back into contention for these next games.”
Hooper’s second Premier League goal in consecutive home games was further evidence he is adapting to his new surroundings.
“Gary is getting stronger and fitter,” said Hughton. “He is getting used to the league and his team mates. He is a quiet lad but a confident player. He is used to scoring goals but I was probably more pleased with his overall game. ”