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West Ham United v Norwich

Filed: Tuesday, 1st January 2013
By: Preview Percy

Next we play host to Norwich City for the first match at the Boleyn of 2013. Tubes have a reduced service, trains sort of depend on the company, with the exception of London Midland who won’t have enough staff to operate whatever level of service they want to advertise anyway. Check before you leave.

After a shaky start to the season our visitors recovered to go on a fine unbeaten run that has left them in 11th position with 25 points from their 20 games. That’s two points and one place above us, though we do have a game in hand. Having said that their recent form hasn’t been all that – they’ve lost their last three (2-3 at home to Man City, 0-1 at home to Chelsea and 2-1 at West Brom).

The three before that saw them beat Wigan at home (2-1) and Swansea away (3-4). Sandwiched between those victories was another defeat, a rather unbelievable (given recent events) 4-1 home reverse to Aston Villa. Norwich will become the first team this season that we will have played twice, with us having drawn 0-0 at Carrow Road in September.

There will be a change in goal from that match. England cap John Ruddy picked up a thigh injury in November that was serious enough to require surgery. At one stage it was also thought that that would be it for the ‘keeper’s season. However, the op was successful and a February return has been suggested. His replacement will be Mark Bunn. Bunn was credited with an own goal in the Man City match, Dzeko’s low powerful shot coming back off the post and going in off the luckless ‘keeper.

I have a spot of bad news for Canaries’ centre-back Michael Turner. Regular readers may be aware that in the past Turner and I have had our locks trimmed at the same emporium – him whenever he’s in London, me whenever I can dodge the alarm systems here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered. Having sorted out the wiring and fed the Rest Home’s guard rottweillers a few of the sleeping tablets they put in our breakfast, I managed to arrive at the salon the other day only to find that the couple who have run it for years have retired. So if there is a slightly dishevelled look to the centre of the visitors’ defence on New Year’s Day it may not just be down to overdoing it the night before.

Turner’s fellow defender Russell Martin picked up a brace at the weekend in the Man City game. His first was a header having stayed up from a corner, his second involved him putting away a loose ball that City hadn’t properly cleared after a corner. So that’ll be corners from which he’ll be dangerous then.

Also amongst the goals in the controversial Man City match was Anthony Pilkington. Pilkington scored direct from a free-kick that had been awarded after a perfectly – and blindingly obviously – legal challenge on the edge of the box. Probably best not to give away free-kicks thereabouts then. He’s been capped at U21 level by the Republic of Ireland having been informed that he was eligible to do so by FAI officials, it not previously having occurred to the player that he might qualify. Can’t think why – it appears the criteria have been lowered to once having drunk a half of Guinness rather than the pint that used to be the case. He picked up his single U21 cap in 2008 but since then nothing. I expect the full call-up is in the post.

If you read the preview I prepared for the reverse fixture you’ll remember that the Norwich Crimewatch award holder is Robert Snodgrass for whom an arrest warrant was issued for the crime against humanity of parking on a pelican crossing. Snodgrass is currently avoiding extradition to Scotland (where the alleged crime was committed) by hiding out in the Equadorian Embassy in Norwich. Probably.

Another likely absentee from the side with whom we drew 0-0 in September will be striker Grant Holt. Norwich’s recent wobble has coincided with the skipper’s absence with a hamstring pull. Local reports suggested that they had been hoping for an earlier return from the injury for the player who, alongside Snodgrass and Pilkington, is joint top scorer with 4 goals. However, the latest information I’ve been able to get the work experience kid to find for me suggests that he is a major doubt. Holt was a player for whom we reportedly made a bid during the summer, before deciding that the treatment table in our physio centre would look better with Andy Carroll on it.

Saturday was majorly disappointing but highlighted what is a major failing in the squad at the moment. Reading have gone back to basics, figuring that, since they will be playing superior teams nigh on every week, they may as well try to park the bus in the hope that any goals that they might pinch might be enough to get something out of the game. Since we handed them an early goal on a plate all they had to do was sit back and watch us fail to break them down. The fact is we’re a bit short on creativity at the moment. A fit Benayoun might have been expected to rectify that but, since Mr January has slung his hook, that left us hanging on for Vaz Te. Unfortunately, having returned early to a squad short on numbers, RVT didn’t really get into the game. And the less said about that header the better.

Assuming that the management are happy with the match-fitness of the recent returnees (and that’s a large assumption) the only absentees from the squad will be Carroll, Diame and McCartney, none of whom are expected much before the end of January. However, the picking up of five bookings just one match too early will mean days off for both Collins and Nolan. Ginge’s suspension will mean a return to the centre of defence for Tomkins. Dunno about you but I’ll feel happier seeing him in the middle as opposed to midfield or at right back where he seems as comfortable as an X-Factor contestant who has been asked to hit a note. Any note. Demel was on the bench at Reading. It’s unclear whether his presence on the sidelines was due to his not being fit or the manager simply preferring Tomkins on the right but either way if he’s fit he’ll probably start, with young Spence an alternative if not.

There are a number of options for the replacement of Nolan. Maiga could come in as a more orthodox partner for Cole or Vaz Te might continue his return. We might even see a start for Diarra if a more defensive line-up is deemed necessary.

It’s time we started picking up a few wins. Yes there have been injuries and yes we’ve not had the best of luck but that’s done now. The return of some of the injury cases should be a boost to the squad even if they’re back a bit earlier than one would have liked and the revelation that the owners will be spending a few of the Amazon vouchers they got for Christmas might focus the minds of a few others in the squad as the window starts to open. Ever the optimist I’m hopeful that we can start the new year with a three pointer. For that reason I’ll be putting the Rest Home’s fund to buy Michael Turner A new haircut (£2.50) on a home win as we start to consolidate our nice comfy mid-table position wearing the nice warm sweaters our Mums bought us for Christmas.

Enjoy the game – and happy new year!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 1-0 (FA Cup 3rd round January 2005). A bit like Barnsley and Burnley we went through a spell of drawing Norwich every year in the Cup. This time they were Premier League and half way to being relegated. We were whatever the second tier was called back then and half way to being promoted. Harewood’s 80th minute winner was put past a ‘keeper called Green. I wonder whatever happened to him?

Referee: Mark Clattenburg. “Chelseagate” has sort of overshadowed the fact that Clattenburg isn’t the greatest of referees. Remember the pig’s ear he made of our 2-1 win at QPR earlier this season? That’s his usual standard. Chelsea’s attempts to discredit him have had the totally opposite effect of making him some sort of martyr. Unfortunately.

Danger Man: Robert Snodgrass. Joint top scorer, albeit with four goals. Like Pilkington, he’s also useful from dead-ball situations.

Daft fact of the week: Norwich joint majority shareholder Delia “Let’s Be ‘Avin Ya” Smith famously baked the cake on the cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” album. What is a lesser known fact is that she was commissioned to do something similar for the cover of this year’s Chelsea yearbook. However, just before the photo shoot was due to begin the cake was discovered to have gone missing. And so had Frank Lampard. True story*.

(*no it isn’t – Ed).

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 47; West Ham Utd 17, Norwich 15, Draws 15.

First Meeting
6th October 1934: Norwich 1-2 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division Two)

Last Meeting
15th September 2012 Norwich 0-0 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Premier League)

Biggest Win(s)
1st March 1939: Norwich 2-6 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division Two)

Heaviest Defeat(s)
1st January 1988: Norwich 4-1 West Ham Utd (Carrow Road, Division One)

October 1958: Norwich 2-4 West Ham Utd (Keeble 2, Grice, Musgrove)
May 1975: Norwich 1-1 West Ham Utd (Lampard)
July 2002: Norwich 1-3 West Ham Utd (Sinclair, Defoe, Cole)
July 2007: Norwich 1-2 West Ham Utd (Ashton, Spector)

Early baths
2003/04: Mattie Etherington (a).

They Played For Both
Dean Ashton; Mark Bowen; Rob Green; Albert Foan; John McDowell; Jimmy Neighbour; Matthew Rush; Alan Taylor; Steve Walford; Martin Peters; John Gurkin; Fred Kearns; Ted MacDougall; Tony Cottee; Dale Gordon; Graham Paddon.

Bossing It
Former players who have managed Norwich are John Bond, Ken Brown, Archie Macaulay and current Canaries boss, Chris Hughton. Our former manager Glenn Roeder was also the Canaries manager.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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