Saturday was a great opportunity for Norwich City to pull clear of the Premier League relegation battle, especially as only Southampton won out of the bottom six. Therefore a home point from the goalless draw with Fulham has to be seen as a missed opportunity to widen the gap, despite an encouraging attacking display.
It is obvious what problems the Canaries have and that is scoring. They have managed just one goal in five Premier League matches. You don’t need a degree in psychology to work out that if your side don’t score, you won’t win football matches – it is as simple as that.
At least this result for Chris Hughton was better than the 5-0 destruction he had to endure on the opening day at Craven Cottage. Norwich haven’t beaten Fulham in any competition since 1986, so the Cottagers have proved to be tricky opponents. Nevertheless, Martin Jol’s team have not been in sparkling form for some time, so they will be much happier with the point.
Stand-in goalkeeper Mark Bunn was almost a spectator throughout. He was forced into one decent save from Steve Sidwell early in the second-half, and Damien Duff showed some threat on the flanks. Apart from that, the visitors’ threat to the hosts’ goal was basically non-existent.
Norwich were dealt a blow on the morning of the game by Grant Holt’s absence. He woke up with back spasms and was consequently ruled out of the squad. His lack of goals this season mean he wasn’t greatly missed in this regard, but his aerial threat would have given Brede Hangeland and Philippe Senderos more problems than what they had to face upto all afternoon.
January signing Luciano Becchio made his full debut in Holt’s place, and he spurned the majority of Norwich’s best opportunities. Although he looked rusty infront of goal, Becchio did work well with the creative midfielders in the team, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington.
He couldn’t stop scoring in his four and a half years at Leeds, so it will be interesting to see if he and Holt can play in the same team when he recovers from injury. After all, they are similar players in comparison to their best abilities.
The best opportunity though fell to Bradley Johnson, but he thrashed a shot wide from the 18-yard box after being setup by Becchio.
In reality, it wasn’t a great game and a draw was probably a fair result. Even so, some Norwich supporters might have felt that on another day, they would have earnt all three points.
Looking at the current situation in the table and four wins from their last 12 games should see Norwich across the 40 point mark towards safety and Premier League football next season.
The club’s shock FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Luton Town a fortnight ago means it is a week off next week, so it gives the chance to put together some new training regimes ahead of Everton’s visit to East Anglia in a fortnight’s time.
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