Hughton banks on Canaries’ character
By Jim van Wijk
Norwich manager Chris Hughton feels his team have shown enough character during their three-match losing streak to remain positive for the challenges ahead in 2013.
The Canaries have endured a miserable return from their run of festive fixtures, with defeat at West Brom halting a remarkable 10-game unbeaten Barclays Premier League run which was swiftly followed by a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea on St Stephen’s Day and then a 4-3 reverse when champions Manchester City came to Carrow Road at the weekend.
Hughton, though, will take his squad to West Ham today confident the group can maintain a safe distance from themselves and the battle for survival.
“We have gone through a difficult period, but we have also been against really difficult opposition,” said Hughton.
“We have been close in every game, lost by just one goal each time, so I think there are certainly a lot of positives we have taken from these defeats.
“But every match you play is an opportunity to bounce back and we will look to do that against West Ham.”
Hughton added: “If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I would be happy with the points tally we have at this stage, then yes, I would be. Now it is about getting back into good form and back to picking up points.
“Everyone is looking to get to 40 points, so we would like to get there too.”
The Irons, who have won just one of the last eight league games suffered a fifth defeat in that run when going down 1-0 at Reading and manager Sam Allardyce wants a positive reaction from his players today.
The Hammers slipped to a 1-0 defeat against fellow promoted side Reading on Saturday and have now won just one of their last eight Barclays Premier League fixtures.
“We need to bounce back,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure we become better at creating and taking our chances, otherwise it’s going to be tough.
“The balls into the box haven’t been given enough quality to open up a defence as everybody starts tightening up at this stage of the season.”
Despite welcoming a few players back from injury, Allardyce must now cope without the suspended duo of captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins for the match with Norwich.
“Losing the game (at Reading) was hard enough, but to lose two key players in the last game of the suspension period makes it even worse,” he said.
“If they had got booked on Tuesday, there’s no suspension, but they go and get booked at Reading and now we have to make do without them.”
With the Hammers on a run of poor form Allardyce is expecting a tense atmosphere at Upton Park for the visit of the Canaries.
“Norwich’s feat in going 10 games in the Premier League without defeat, that is a great, great run. I think it is going to be a big test for our nerve for the first time this season,” he said.
“Norwich have been very good defensively, particularly away from home and I think they make life very difficult for you to break them down and play very well on the counter-attack.”
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