EPL: 4 Things Needed for Norwich City to Beat Fulham
It's a game that many Norwich City fans have been waiting for, as the Canaries finally get their shot at revenge for the 5-0 demolition administered by Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League season.
It was a rude awakening for Chris Hughton in his first game in charge of the club since making the switch to Norfolk in the summer, and many people must have feared the worst for his new side for the rest of the campaign.
As it turned out, it hasn't quite worked out like that with Norwich having managed to haul themselves into the relative comfort of mid-table as we move into February, but a poor run of recent results means that they are once again starting to look over their shoulders a little bit.
A win against the Cottagers would go some way to alleviate some of those fears, and here are four things that the Canaries must do to ensure that they come out on top at Carrow Road.
Forget the Past
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Norwich City could be forgiven for believing that Fulham hold some sort of hoodoo over them, such has been the nature of the dominance from the Cottagers in this fixture in recent years, but that is of course not the case and the Canaries need to believe that.
Despite the opening-day humiliation, the two teams are locked level on points at this stage of the season, which in itself shows that Norwich are more than capable of registering a victory.
Although it hurt, that 5-0 defeat is history now and there is absolutely nothing that Chris Hughton and his side can do about it.
However, what they can do is play the game on its individual merit on Saturday and try to put things right.
This clash at Carrow Road should be seen as a great opportunity to draw a lie under the events that occurred at the Cottage in August as well as a chance to set themselves up for a successful end to the season in the process.
Get in Their Faces
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The one thing that you can say about Fulham with certainty is that they do possess some very talented individual players, and such accomplished stars can hurt you if you give them the space to create.
During the reverse fixture in West London, the Canaries gave the likes of Bryan Ruiz and the now departed Mousa Dembélé far too much time on the ball and they found out to spectacular effect just how costly that can be.
There's litte doubt that the stiflingly hot weather conditions will have zapped the energy levels of the Norwich players on that occasion, but such an excuse will not be available in the early February chill and City must not make the same mistake again.
If Hughton can mastermind a plan to shut down the supply line provided by Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov (if the latter passes a fitness test) then he will go a long way to eliminating a large chunk of the visiting team's threat.
If he fails to do so, history could easily repeat itself once again.
Come out of the Blocks
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With Norwich City having not won for eight games, there are bound to be some early nerves at Carrow Road, and the best way to eradicate that tension is to score early and get on the front foot.
Although the Canaries didn't manage to score until late in the first half against Tottenham Hotspur in their last home fixture, they started the game brilliantly, and it's amazing how much belief such an opening to a game can formulate.
Furthermore, Fulham aren't exactly known for their fighting spirit away from home, so if Norwich can dominate early doors then there may be no way back for Martin Jol's men.
On the flip side, if the away side start in the ascendancy then they will be able to quieten the crowd, and some the of lingering doubts that may be creeping into the minds of the Norwich players throughout this difficult spell could return.
The fans will have an equally big part to play in trying to create a big match atmosphere within the stadium, and hopefully the players can feed off that energy and secure the result.
Remain Hard to Beat
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There's absolutely no doubting the importance of Sébastien Bassong to Norwich City, with the Canaries having a tendency to simply fall apart when the Cameroonian defender is not in the side.
Bassong wasn't even a City player when Norwich capitulated at Craven Cottage back in August, and he missed both the 5-2 and 5-0 hammerings at the hands of Liverpool as well which just goes to show how pivotal he is.
However, with Bassong in the team Norwich are a completely different kettle of fish defensively and despite struggling for wins recently, the Canaries have still looked difficult to break down during this indifferent period of results.
Having a solid foundation is a great platform for getting results, especially as Norwich City don't score a lot of goals, so it is important the Norfolk outfit continue this trend against Fulham.
Realistically, one goal could well be enough to win the game so Norwich need to be tight at the back first and foremost in order to give themselves the best possible chance of claiming those three valuable points.
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