Norwich: With Hooper, Fer & Redmond In Form We Can Smash Sluggish Swansea
It's here again. That slightly unnerving feeling that has eyelids flickering and fingers fingering at the shirt collar. No, it's not the onset of a stroke. It's expectation.
The Norwich 'crisis' has overwhelmed all the chatter recently over here and whether you're a glass-half-full man, or conversely, completely wrong, the situation is still fairly muddied for the Yellows. Muddied because the crisis was never really a crisis. We had a terrible run of games against the fat cats – faired quite well in some – and suffered a couple of whippings against Man City and Liverpool – two teams that also helped themselves to the contents of our larder even under the now deified Sir Paul Lambert QC, PhD, OBE. OK, so no one likes being tossed about the pitch like a rag doll, but it happens. Just ask Spurs. Get over it.
However, amidst this 'crisis', Norwich have won three games in five and are a handful of points off Man Utd. Not bad for a manager whose footballing knowledge and nous is clearly eons away from those who took Norwich to the Champions League Final on FIFA. So are Norwich in better shape? Or were they not that bad to start with?
I don't think we have fared too badly this season. Good performances against Chelsea and Arsenal still resulted in defeats and we should have got a win against Cardiff. West Ham, Palace and West Brom were welcome victories and were possibly always more important than the trips to Anfield and the Ethiad that punctuated them. The first half display against West Ham was an absolute shocker – it looked we had Dennis Waterman's all-star 11 out there – but we eventually triumphed 3:1 against Big Sam's headless chicken.
We do have a few injuries and maybe this has jelled the formation a little and forced Hughton's hand into more attacking formations. Hooper is looking lively, Elmander was great against Palace, and Fer and Howson are marshalling things in the middle. Nathan Redmond is currently operating almost as a one-man 'special team' (which will mean nothing if you don't follow NFL). Redmond will always have the opposition keeping one eye on the counter no matter how much pressure they enjoy, as seen at the Hawthorns. People have criticised the winger's 'end product' but to be honest just being able to display his immense pace might just be enough, right now. Redmond and Hooper are key right now. Two players who can take the pressure of Leroy Fer is already attracting interest from others.
So... I imagine a few Norwich fans might be feeling 'up' for this Sunday's visit of Swansea. If Hughton is going to push more in winnable games, rather than the top-5 pantos, then this is surely one of those matches. Swansea's form has dipped slightly of late, Norwich are strong at home, and a win for the Canaries would see them sitting mid-table with Sunderland standing between them and a Christmas that wouldn't require Hughton to empty his belongings into bin bags.
The Hughton doubters have gone quiet of late, forced into stunned silence even during goal celebrations and full-time whistles that have provided three points, and of course if you are going to call for a manager's head, it helps if said manager is genuinely crap. Still, the gaffer is only ever one defeat away from the gnashing of teeth. For some, he remains a dead man walking.
So, will Norwich see off Swansea? I think so. I genuinely do. There you have it. Even Mark Lawrenson has gone for a home win. What could possibly go wrong? God it's hot in here. I must undo that top button...
WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
A Norwich central defender will score.
There will be a penalty.
Norwich will win.