Norwich City: 5 Biggest Strengths of the Canaries This Season
I think it is fairly clear that Norwich City have evolved from the side they were last season. Therefore, it seems a good idea to look at where their biggest strengths are this season. Chris Hughton is a different man from Paul Lambert, but many Norwich fans must know feel that the club is in better hands under their new man.
So, grab your favorite hot beverage, sit down and have a read of my latest slideshow discussing the fortunes of the Canaries.
The Defense, or Should I Say Sebastien Bassong
Critics may point to heavy defeats against Fulham, Liverpool and Chelsea already this season. But on closer inspection, it is clear that Norwich are a much more solid unit than they ever were last season.
Of course, some would say that it has come at a price because the side isn't scoring as many goals. This is a fair assessment, but I would remind fans that it is still relatively early in the season. Chris Hughton will almost certainly be looking for added firepower in January, and this may well lead to some wins by bigger margins.
The defensive improvement has been particularly evident in recent games, and keeping clean sheets against Arsenal, Stoke and Manchester United is no mean feat. Hughton seems to be of the opinion that we should win at home by the odd goal and not get beat away. And I have to say that formula works for me.
There is no doubt that the manager has purchased some quality defenders, but no one deserves higher praise than Sebastien Bassong, who is a great defender and leader with a useful quality of getting the very best out of his central defensive partner.
Saturday's 1-1 draw against Everton was further evidence that the spirit is alive and well at Norwich City. Previous Norwich sides may have crumbled after Everton scored an early goal. But this side keep fighting and in the end found a deserved goal to take a priceless point away from Goodison Park.
That spirit was also shown when the team recovered from going 1-0 down to Aston Villa in a previous Premier League away match. But the real evidence of team spirit was shown in recovering from earlier defeats in the season to where they are now in the table.
The prime example of this was shown in the home game against Arsenal. The previous results were heavy defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea, so what chances were there that Norwich would win 1-0 against one of the best sides in the league. But they did, and that has arguably started the Canaries' current run. It was the game that reminded the world that the Canaries are a Premier League side on merit.
Real Premier League Quality
I am sick to death with the idea that Norwich are battling along with a squad of League One players that are punching above their weight. If this was really true, then what does that say about the qualities available to the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United?
The reality is that there are a number of players in this side that most Premier League sides would love to have. The spirit is important, but it's the quality in the side that really excites me. I would reserve special mention for Alex Tettey, Javier Garrido and Sebastien Bassong, who have all played at the highest level previously, and it certainly shows.
It wouldn't be right to discuss the strengths of Norwich City without mentioning the man who is responsible for securing most of it. Sure, he inherited a decent squad from Paul Lambert that managed to stay in the Premier League last season.
But Chris Hughton has managed to stamp his authority on the team in a very short space of time. His achievements are even more impressive given that he lost his very first game in charge, 5-0 to Fulham.
However, he has stuck to his principles and proved to the fans that his way is certainly right for Norwich City. The signs suggest that David McNally has made another excellent replacement for Paul Lambert. The future of Norwich City looks very healthy under the guidance of Chris Hughton.
John Ruddy, Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt
If you would pick three players from last season's squad that you would want in your side this season, then you wouldn't look beyond these three players. And even at this early stage in the season, they have already reminded us on how important they are.
They should all be regular internationals, but only John Ruddy is receiving the recognition that he deserves. However, Chris Hughton clearly understands how important the trio are to Norwich City. And if the team managed to survive this season, then I'm sure the aforementioned trio would have played a big part.
John Ruddy was good last season, but he seems to have taken things up a level this season and he almost seems to be the complete goalkeeper now. I think it's fair to say that few Premier League teams have such a reliable goalkeeper to call on.
Wes Hoolahan is a creative genius, and there can't be many many players of his type in the Premier League right now. But fans would like it if he scored more goals, but maybe I'm getting greedy!
We all know what Grant Holt is all about, and he is certainly the most reliable striker that we have, so there isn't much more that needs to be discussed here. It doesn't look likely Norwich City will get another 15 Premier League goals out of him this season, but they will get what we need to stay in the league.