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This city side is just so clinical...

PUBLISHED: 15:37 01 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:56 01 July 2010

David Powles

For those 2,000 hardy souls who had already made the trip to Walsall on Monday, the late postponement was, of course, completely frustrating - and totally avoidable.

For those 2,000 hardy souls who had already made the trip to Walsall on Monday, the late postponement was, of course, completely frustrating - and totally avoidable.

The Christmas holidays pass all too quickly and to spend the majority of one day driving up and straight back down the A14 for ultimately no good reason would, I imagine, make your blood boil.

I have no reason to doubt referee Mark Haywood's decision and reasons to postpone the match, but to have left it so late was a serious mistake on his behalf.

It's part of a referee's job to use their experience to make a decision on playing surfaces as early as possible - especially when you know that so many people are travelling such a long way to see the game.

And in this case he clearly got the initial call on the playing conditions wrong - leading to a wholly unsatisfactory last-minute postponement.

However, while the call-off was bad news for City's away contingent, in terms of our league campaign there are two schools of thought over its impact.

Some may think that, after a game just two days earlier, an extra few day's rest would be of benefit to those players likely to be tired and not playing at 100 per cent.

Personally, however, I subscribe to the thinking that Norwich should be looking to play as many games as possible at the moment, while on such a good run.

The legs may be tired, but hopefully sheer momentum would have carried us through, which is why I was backing us to have gained three more points at Walsall, continuing what has so far been an excellent few weeks for the club.

The postponement means we are now facing three games in the week beginning Saturday, January 9, which pretty much negates any positive impact of the players getting an unexpected rest this week.

It's swings and roundabouts and any side with aspirations of automatic promotion, such as ours, should be able to cope with an extra game a week here and there anyway.

A win on Monday, had it transpired, would have also been a major psychological boost as it would have meant we entered 2010 in the automatic promotion position, thanks to Charlton Athletic having the kind of miserable Christmas we know about all too well.

Monday's disappointment aside, it has been a brilliant festive period so far and another three points in Saturday's highly winnable game at Wycombe will mean the traditional Canaries Christmas slump has been well and truly avoided.

In fact, should we pick up another three points on Saturday, this will go down as one of the best Christmases in recent years.

Only once in the past 10 seasons have we managed to begin the New Year on the back of a 100 per cent record for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year - 2003/4, the last time we managed to get successfully promoted.

And on only three of these occasions have we secured more than 50 per cent of the available points.

Yet despite the two comfortable home wins, I didn't feel that Norwich truly played at their best against Huddersfield or Millwall.

It is just that, at the moment, when they do turn on the style, pretty much every League One side finds them unplayable.

The excellence of our striking trio has been well documented, but what impresses me most about Norwich at the moment is just how clinical in front of goal they are.

Take the Millwall game. I lost count of the amount of times one of their players blazed the ball high or wide.

According to the statistics the Lions actually had more chances on goal than us, 11 to our 10.

The difference being we got eight of them on target and two in the net, they just five on goal and none in it.

And in our last five games, opposition teams have had 45 efforts on city's goal, with only 21 of them on target. Three shots have hit the back of the net, but in four of the games our opponents have failed to score.

In the same games, Norwich created 58 efforts on goal, 39 of them on target, leading to 13 goals and, more importantly, four wins and one draw.

The majority of our shots are on target, and a third of them have led to a goal.

This accuracy in front of goal, coupled with some very good defensive performances, has put Charlton well within our sights and from this moment on priority number one is to get past them and secure automatic promotion.

Five of the rest

Will the curse of the Canaries Calendar strike again? Normally being featured in it is a hint of imminent departure and it was no real surprise to see the identity of Mr January for 2010 - out-of-favour striker Jamie Cureton. I should imagine his bags are already packed.

It was good to see Paul Lambert talk of his desire to get promoted automatically and avoid the lottery of the play-offs. Can I make my own personal plea for this to be achieved? One of my best friends (not a City fan obviously) has set his wedding date for May 29, the same day as the League One Play-Off Final. One of those choices in life you just don't want to have to make.

Like many football fans I'm a closet stat anorak. My stat of the week? Which player has committed and been victim of the most fouls in League One so far this season? It's our very own Grant Holt. His 55 free-kicks won and 54 given away are for me a real indication of his desire to get involved in the physical battles. For me this has been a real key to the team's success this season and something sorely missing in previous years.

No surprise to see Fraser Forster's name being mentioned alongside major Premier League clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham - the boy's a class act. He commands his area well, has great shot stopping ability and has the presence of a top flight goalkeeper. I'm pretty sure Newcastle are all too aware of this though and would be loathe to lose him in the long term, not to a club like Arsenal nor, sadly, one like Norwich. I think we have to make the most of him while we can.

Too much football played during the festive period is often the moan of the pampered modern day footballer and his manager. How then do you think they would have coped in 1924 when Norwich beat Queens park Rangers 4-0 in a Boxing Day Third division (South) game, to be followed the very next day by a game against Plymouth Argyle, which they lost 5-0? Just one of the many fascinating Canaries tit-bits to have come from my favourite stocking filler this year - a copy of Norwich City On This Day by Gareth James.

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