Norwich City: 6 Things We Learned from Superb Arsenal Win
I have to admit that I am still a little shocked that we managed to win 1-0. It was an awesome performance by Norwich City and by far the best of Chris Hughton's reign so far. Having watched the matches against Liverpool and Chelsea, I was fearing the worst. But I'm delighted that my instincts were incorrect on this occasion.
A System That Suits Us
I have been going on about the 4-5-1/4-2-3-1 system for a while now and how it would suit Norwich. I was delighted to see Hughton using it in Saturday's game. The protection given by Bradley Johnson and Alexander Tettey, allows Pilkington, Elliott Bennett and Hoolahan to go out and express themselves.
I thought the Irishman (Pilkington), in particular, was superb and showed why he needs to be in the side; he also proved that he works hard and does his share of defensive work. But it's when he gets into the final third that he really produces his magic. Hoolahan worked well with Holt and really made the Canaries tick when attacking.
It was a brave decision by Hughton to go into this home game with only one striker, but it was the right decision. I hope that the Norwich manager sticks with this system, because I honestly think it suits us better than any other.
A Quite Superb Defensive Show
Most Norwich fans went into this game expecting the opposition to score goals. The fact that they didn't showed how well the Canaries defended as a unit. There certainly were superb individual performances, but the unit as a whole was strong. Bassong, probably, just shaded it, but they all deserve credit.
And that includes goalkeeper, John Ruddy. There was a suggestion by MOTD that Ruddy had an easy and quiet day. Clearly, they watched a different game, because I saw a goalkeeper that was on top of his form. He was needed to make a number of quality saves, and he did the basics superbly well.
Arsenal had a bit of pressure late in the game, Ruddy was there to punch the ball out and make some superb claims. His positioning was superb throughout the match and he was constantly organizing the defence. A stellar performance by an England goalkeeper.
Finally, Respect Thrown out of the Window
Against Liverpool and Chelsea, Norwich allowed the opposition too much time and space to do exactly what they wanted. It's fairly obvious that you can't afford to do this against the world's best players.
It looks like the team and Hughton have learned from this, because this time we pressed Arsenal at every opportunity and simply stopped them playing their usual passing game. There was a moment in the game that summed up Norwich's determined performance.
That was when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain subbed on and was immediately welcomed to the game by a crunching tackle. It seemed that it was something he never quite recovered from and had to come off injured.
I have a lot of time for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Norwich were not going to allow Arsenal's gems to do what they normally do.
There Is Real Quality in This Norwich City Team
I don't think we are any longer just a team of lower league gems. There is now some real Premier League quality in the side. This is partly because the players that excelled last season have a year behind them now, but mainly due to summer transfers.
I think the three signings of Alexander Tettey, Sebastien Bassong and Javier Garrido are quite superb. In fact, I don't think they would look out of place at teams in the top end of the Premier League.
It is certainly true to say they are of higher quality than we have seen at Carrow Road for many, many years. The signs are also promising for the rest of Hughton's signings.
Possession Is Not Always King
There are plenty of teams in the Premier League that believe they are doing well if they keep the ball. Now, I don't always agree with this, because I have seen Norwich dominate plenty of games, but still lose. So, what matters to me is what you do with the ball.
Norwich may have only had 38 percent of the possession against Arsenal, but they used it a lot better. And I'm sure both sets of supporters would admit that it was the Canaries that created the better openings. If Norwich keep playing like this, then it won't matter how much of the ball they have.
Remember the Date...
Saturday 20 October 2012 could prove to be a hugely significant date in the managerial career of Chris Hughton. Norwich have looked decent in certain games this season, but terrible in others. But the Arsenal game proved a great deal of things.
The spirit is clearly very much there and this team can go and get results in the Premier League. Grant Holt's desire to score the winning goal was superb, as was the determination of the team not to concede throughout the game.
This game proved to supporters that Hughton can progress the Canaries up the Premier League table.