A lot of people are probably not aware that there has been a long-standing rivalry between Norwich City and Wolves, one of our chants is “we only hate Wolves and Ipswich”. The rivalry goes back to the days when the infamous Kevin Muscat seriously injured Craig Bellamy who was our star player at the time and an intimidating encounter when we beat Wolves in the play-off knock out stage in 2002 despite losing 1-0 in the second leg at Molineux. In that year Norwich just scraped 6th place on the last day of the Championship season whereas Wolves finished 9 points clear of 4th placed Milwall, so it was a bitter defeat for Wolves to swallow.
A lot has happened in the 9 years since this encounter and Wolves went in to this game fighting for their survival in the Premier League and Norwich looking to pick up a win after recent bad form and without a win since 11th February.
As we have all come to expect Lambert tinkered with the team again playing a 3-5-2 line-up. The back 3 was a surprise for me with Naughton being dropped, he has been superb for is this season but Lambert’s tactics seemed to be to try to get a few goals. I don’t think this came off, we were a little shaky at the back with Ward making a few unforced errors and when Matt Jarvis scored on 25 minutes I had to admit that I though it was going to be one of those days as despite us having dominated possession we were struggling to get any real chances on goal. After half time however Naughton replaced Lappin (who I thought had a superb 1st half) and the structure seemed to suit us better.
Next Page: Opta Stats from the game…
Despite going 1-0 down we had that man Grant Holt on the pitch who just 60 seconds later popped up with a superb goal. Running onto a pass from Simeon Jackson Holt cheekily chipped the ball over Hennessey’s head, followed it on and headed it neatly in to the back of the net. It was almost Lionel Messi like and if it wasn’t for Crouch’s brilliant strike for Stoke that would have been the goal of the day.
That goal seemed to put us back on track and we continued to dominate the game with 62% of possession Vs. 38% for Wolves. Just before half-time Wolves Eggert Jonsson was penalised for handling the ball in the penalty area and the man Grant Holt put away his 12th goal of the season.
Holt would have been man of the match if it wasn’t for his second yellow card on the 85th minute for a tackle on Kightly. I thought both yellow cards were a bit harsh but being on a yellow already Holt should probably have known better. Wolves pushed us hard in the last 5 minutes and the 4 minutes of injury time but they failed to make anything of their chances and when the whistle went the Wolves players looked dejected, many of then sitting on the ground with heads in their hands. I have to say that despite our rivalry I felt for them at that point, they battled hard but seem to be missing that cutting edge. Matt Jarvis however looks like a quality player and I can see him getting snapped up very quickly if Wolves go down.
Several players impressed on the pitch as well as Matt Jarvis, Holty an obvious one and it was a shame his performance was soured by a red card. Jonny Howson, making his home debut looked like a great signing from Leeds as he was everywhere and rarely put a foot wrong, he also looks like he can score a few goals and the partnership between him and Hoolahan just might work. For me though, the star of the show again was David Fox who is fastly becoming the player of the season for me. He had 99 passes in the game and a 78% accuracy rate and helped us dominate the play throughout the game.
Lambert wouldn’t be drawn into confirming our safety for another year in the Premier League yesterday and he is right to do that but we now sit in 11th place on 39 points, just one point from the magic 40 points of survival. Just 8 games are left starting with Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday, a home game for me at a ground I’ve not yet visited so let’s hope it also gets us to or beyond that 40 points and nearer to mathematical survival.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.