Writer: The Tuckster
Date:Saturday December 14 2013
A win? Away from home? Blimey.
That's 3 wins in our last 5 league games now. If I do say so myself, that's not a bad turnaround considering the pressure Chris Hughton's been under recently.
And once again at the risk of repeating myself, it shows the kind of character Hughton is to be able to actually get the lads going again to get themselves out of the doldrums and back on the winning front.
Hughton was >< that close to getting sacked. Five games later, the pressure that was mounting on him has no transferred to other managers like Sam Allardyce and Martin Jol (who's already gone). Even Malky Mackay is under pressure now, and a few weeks ago people were talking about him replacing Hughton here (me too).
It just goes to show that a few weeks is a long time in football, and depending on how a few games in a row go, the complexion can change all the time.
You can't necessarily say that about Swansea though, who to their credit have remained totally consistent throughout their Premier League stay thus far and even have League Cup silverware to show for their efforts. While other clubs are riding high one minute and feeling low the next, the Swans have been quietly going about their business giving everybody a tough game and carrying on regardless of how well or how badly a game went for them.
One thing we do have to our advantage this time is that Swansea are travelling back from a Europa League tie from Thursday, which is a tough schedule for them and doesn't leave them a lot of time to get their heads together and go through the planning for the game at CR.
Unlike Newcastle last season, the Swans have actually coped quite well with such a schedule for the time being, and a number of their summer acquisitions have been quite shrewd in addition to their current stars like Michu still delivering the goods. That said, a wet Thursday night in Switzerland in which they came back with a defeat (though they still qualified for the knockout phase) is tough for any team to recover from with a Premier League tie looming in a few days, ahead of a busy Christmas period.
To that end, here's the usuals.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is finally set to return to the fray, now that his toe injury has healed up. Snodgrass and Pilkington are still expected to be out until the new year.
For Swansea, Chico Flores is suspended but Angel Rangel looks set to return.
Last time we met
It finished all square at 2-2 last time at Carrow Road.
In a game where the momentum was constantly shifting, Swansea took the lead through Michu, who would net his 21st goal of a prolific campaign. Robert Snodgrass would equalise with a well-timed header from an Elliot Bennett cross, before Michael Turner of all people would help to get us 2-1 ahead with a half-volley after Swansea failed to clear their lines from a Bennett free-kick.
The win would've given Chris Hughton and his side some real breathing space during what was a tough run-in for Norwich, with relegation a possibility unless things improved. They had to settle for a point here though thanks to Luke Miller, who ensured the Swans travelled back to South Wales with something to show for their efforts.
Norwich were 13th after the game and just five points above the dropzone, but ultimately they survived despite dropping points like these on a seemingly regular basis.
Head to Head statements
Norwich - LWLWLW
Three wins in our last five league games is certainly something to be pleased with, and all of a sudden the pressure on Hughton has decreased significantly. The stench from the Man City and Liverpool defeats remain in this sequence, as does the damp squib of Newcastle away, but these wins over West Ham, Palace and West Brom could prove to be invaluable at the end of the season.
Swansea - DWLLWD
Only one league defeat in their last five for Swansea, and that was only in a tough match with Man City. The other loss in this sequence came against Valencia in the Europa League, but they did beat them in the reverse fixture a few months back. They came back from behind to take a point from Hull City in a 1-1 draw on Monday night.
Head to Head stat
With three wins and a draw, Norwich are unbeaten against Swansea in their four Premier League meetings to date.
What's in store this time?
With Norwich slowly rediscovering their form, especially at home, I think there's every chance of winning this one with Swansea on the backfoot from their Europe League outing.
John Ruddy was in inspired form against West Brom last week, and we'll be needing much the same from him again if Swansea outsmart us on the counter-attack. Which, lets be fair, with our defending they have every chance of doing.
With Hooper on form, we finally have another striker who knows where the net is and seems to be growing in confidence. Ricky's return to the fold will only increase the hunger and competition for places, and that's a good thing for all concerned.
Date:Saturday December 14 2013
Support Big Dunc (Saturday March 8 2014)
Injury Update Ahead Of Stoke Clash (Thursday March 6 2014)
'The Fixture Computer's A Norwich Fan' (Thursday March 6 2014)
Adam To Miss City Clash (Wednesday March 5 2014)
Duncan Forbes Day (Wednesday March 5 2014)
City Need To Let Hoolahan Go (Tuesday March 4 2014)
Hello Neil - The Villa Podcast (Monday March 3 2014)
Martin Backs Hughton (Sunday March 2 2014)
Injury Update (Friday February 28 2014)
Leroy Fer Out For Six Weeks? (Thursday February 27 2014)
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