Writer: The Tuckster
Date:Sunday September 29 2013
Cup or not, Norwich proved their bounce-back-ability at Vicarage Road in mid-week.
Two goals up with just under quarter of an hour to go, you'd probably forgive the Watford fans for dreaming about who they might draw in the last sixteen, especially with plenty of the Premier League's big boys practically sailing through. Chelsea. Man City. Spurs.
But thanks to the resilience of Gary Hooper and the impressive debut from Josh Murphy, it's now the Canaries who will make the trip to Old Trafford and not Gianfranco Zola's Hornets.
After our last cup win against Bury, Nathan Redmond fired Norwich to their first league win just a few days later.
The cup wins themselves will matter very little in the context of our season as a whole (unless of course we actually win it). But the confidence and momentum that comes with them might just yield a priceless point or two in the aftermath.
There's something to be said for the feel-good factor around a club, and now's the time to try and take full advantage of that.
It's not been the most pleasant of spells for Chris Hughton, who's been the subject of a fair few moans and groans from the terraces and on social media. But the mid-week progression in the cup has spared his blushes, and another win this weekend will only strengthen his position further in the eyes of the supporters.
Our away form is absolutely dreadful overall, but in isolation, you feel this is a winnable game if the likes of Hooper keep up the recent good work.
Stoke are an intriguing prospect this year. Personally, I was one of the few advocates of the Pulis style of play from neutral-fan perspective. After all, they were comfortably safe for the vast majority of his Premier League tenure despite the odd wobble in form. Also, the long-ball style was a very viable game-plan against some of the elite clubs in the league.
They still employ long-ball tactics, but now the majority of their play involves slick, passing football and Mark Hughes should be commended for how he's got the team playing at the start of the season.
Will their good form continue for the campaign's duration? Too difficult and too early to tell. But for now, they remain a very formidable outfit and at home, they'll fancy their chances against anybody.
And as ever, the support at the Britannia is insanely loud. If ever the 12th man saying was more apt, it would apply to them.
Now for the team news and stats:
For Stoke, Stephen Ireland is a doubt after limping off in the Capital One Cup match against Tranmere in mid-week. Erik Peters missed that much because of hamstring trouble, making him another doubt for Mark Hughes.
For Norwich, Sebastien Bassong picked up a hamstring injury last week against Aston Villa, thus he's out for this one. Hooper should earn his first Premier League start, depending on how well he recovers from playing 120 minutes against Watford.
Last time we met
The last two visits to Staffordshire have seen two 1-0 defeats for the Canaries, the latter coming earlier this year in April after Charlie Adam sealed the game for the Potters.
Neither side was fully comfortable in the table with both looking nervously over their shoulders before the game, but ultimately it was the home side who lifted themselves up into mid-table, leaving Norwich with more work to do to confirm their league status.
A year prior, Paul Lambert's Norwich were as good as safe anyway, but the game itself was pretty dull and had no major talking points apart from Matthew Etherington's goal for Stoke, which came from a throw-in which actually should have been given to Norwich as opposed to against them.
Head to Head stat
Norwich haven't won at Stoke since 1997. Eeeek!
What's in store this time round?
Both teams are coming into the game off the back of some good results in the week, so there should be a bit of added spice here, all going well.
With some tough games coming up for the yellows, now's as good a time as ever for Hughton to slay a few demons and get more of the support onside.
On reflection of the Villa game, at least we created lots of chances compared to games prior. If nothing else they got better as the game went on. Fingers corssed we have more of the same this time, but with more in terms of the end product.
Date:Sunday September 29 2013
City To Face Fulham in FA Cup (Sunday December 8 2013)
Stats: West Brom v Norwich City (Sunday December 8 2013)
City's Raid On The Hawthorns (Sunday December 8 2013)
Savvy's Stats - West Brom (Saturday December 7 2013)
The West Brom Preview (Saturday December 7 2013)
The View From The Hawthorns Q&A (Saturday December 7 2013)
Drubbing Still Fresh In Clarke's Mind (Friday December 6 2013)
Hughton Demanding A Reaction (Friday December 6 2013)
RvW On The Comeback Trail (Thursday December 5 2013)
Yet Another Away Day Horror Show (Thursday December 5 2013)
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|17. West Ham||15||3||4||8||-6||13|
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