City Fire Blanks Against Hammers
Chris Hughton was not quite able to name the same starting XI for three games running and Antony Pilkington`s late groin strain saw Andrew Surman take the left wing berth for the visit of West Ham.
The Hammers have adapted well to life in the Premier League and I was pleased that Andy Carroll was out injured, after what he did to Fulham.
That would mean that Carlton Cole would lead the line for them - a player who`s best ever return of goals in a single season was fifteen. With our newly discovered defensive resilience I was hoping for a win here.
The first half was started well for City and within five minutes, Surman received the ball from Garrido, switched the ball to his right foot and flashed a shot across goal and narrowly wide.
But West Ham quickly got into their groove and almost scored when Vaz Te`s cross was parried by Ruddy. The ball dropped to Cole, whose close range header was cleared by Martin on the line.
Ruddy again showed his worth on 19 minutes when he kept out a Nolan effort with a terrific one handed save - the West Ham man shook his head and smiled as he turned away.
At the other end, Snodgrass robbed O`Brien very easily and surged into the Hammers area. His cross towards Jackson was cut out by Collins when to be honest he should`ve done better. The ball was cleared for a corner which brought a frantic spell of attack on the West Ham goal.
City had four shots on target blocked in the space of a matter of seconds as Snodgrass, Bassong, Holt and Martin all fired goal wards. Jaaskelainen made two very good saves in this period of play.
I couldn`t believe we hadn`t scored but the chances kept coming. On 34 minutes, Holt hit a powerful side foot shot just wide after a flick from Snodgrass with the keeper nowhere.
A notable feature of the first half was Surman playing several excellent slide rule passes into Jackson. Despite his long haul trip to play for Canada in the week, Simeon looked sharp and his pace was worrying the West Ham back four.
Another more worrying feature was Holt being unable to hardly win a header. He continually jumped too early and was no-where near the ball - it was far too easy for Collins and Reid.
Six minutes before the break City had a loud penalty shout but it wasn`t given by the ref. Collins was shown a yellow card after bringing down Surman and Johnson could only hit the wall with the free kick, Garrido hitting a powerful shot just over the ball from the rebound.
And that was the first half. City weren`t too troubled by the Hammers attack but likewise they couldn`t score themselves.
Norwich started the second half brightly and it was Jackson again causing the major threat. Bassong showed some nice footwork, to enhance his ever improving reputation at Carrow Road and fed Jackson.
Simeon hit a rasping 25 yard drive that Jasskelainen could only tip over the bar with a decent save.
I thought there might be more trouble from West Ham when on 57 minutes they made two substitutions - Jarvis and Maiga replacing Cole and Taylor.
Maiga`s arrival was greeted by cries of "WHO?" from the home crowd.
Matt Jarvis is a big signing for the Hammers this year and did very well for Wolves at Carrow Road last season but he couldn`t replicate that form today.
On 64 minutes, Jackson was replaced by Steve Morison to a fair few boos from the crowd. My take on this was that the booing was for the manager`s decision not Morison.
Jackson had a very good game and has started this season as our most effective striker. Holt by contrast doesn`t look the same player who finished so strongly last season. He doesn`t look as lean as he did although he must be fit or he wouldn`t be playing. If anyone was going to be taken off, I thought it would be Holt.
Whether Jackson`s transatlantic travels had tired him out, I don`t know and maybe this was in Hughton`s thinking but he certainly didn`t look to be suffering from fatigue.
Holt was eventually replaced with 20 minutes to go by new boy Harry Kane.
And it was Kane that had a couple of good chances to win it as the clock ran down.
Firstly, a right foot effort went narrowly wide when he should`ve perhaps hit the target. The crowd had been calling for Wes Hoolahan as they sensed this was a game we should be winning and the minutes disappeared.
But Wes didn`t get on and with only moments left City finished strongly. Snodgrass sent Kane away with a three on two situation favouring City. But Kane fired tamely at the West Ham goal with his left foot allowing Jaaskelainen an easy save.
Snodgrass had a shot on the turn blocked wide and Morison headed straight at Jaaskelainen - and the clock finally ran out.
It was a decent performance from Norwich and a game we should`ve won - Big Sam will be the happier of the two managers though, for sure.
The defence, for much of last season our Achilles heel, continue to improve and look fairly solid - when they were beaten, John Ruddy was on his game.
The problem, as I`m sure you`ve all seen is a worrying lack of goals. Robert Snodgrass looks a great acquisition and is at the heart of much of our forward threat.
Is it just a case of "if we keep creating chances, we`ll score" or is there more to be worried about?
Holt looked poor here and a shadow of what we know he can do. But he started last season in a similar vein before stepping up from about October onwards.
Harry Kane had a promising debut here and looks as though he might be part of the answer. Would you drop Holt next week?
I don`t think we need to panic though. Last season we didn`t win until we`d played six matches - away at Bolton. And with games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea coming up we might be struggling again.
But we are playing quite well and creating chances - it`s just finishing them off. Surely the same players that did so well last year haven`t just "lost it". I don`t think they have, I`m also looking forward to seeing Jacob Butterfield.
Here`s to better luck in front of goal.