Monday, November 26, 2012
Sebastien Bassong is the warrior at the heart of Norwich City’s Premier League revival.
Chris Hughton’s highest-profile summer purchase has looked a class act since arriving in Norfolk from Tottenham, but Bassong’s shift at Goodison Park underlined the defender’s raw appetite for the battle.
Nikica Jelavic was dominated by Bassong and Ryan Bennett, who also looked assured deputising for the injured Michael Turner.
The Cameroonian international’s exertions appeared to have taken a toll as the game progressed with a noticeable limp visibly affecting his movement at times, but there was nothing laboured about the athletic leap to despatch Javier Garrido’s 90th- minute free-kick to cancel out Steven Naismith’s first-half opener.
“In all honesty I haven’t asked him but I did see him hobbling,” said Hughton. “He didn’t look like he had a knock when he was sliding down on the floor celebrating in those last few minutes, though, so I think he might be okay.
“I have to say Seb’s got to put it away as it’s really been put on a plate for him, so I’m pleased for Javi, because the free-kick is a lot further out and to be able to hit that area from where he was, was excellent. He’s another one who has done very well since he came in. He’s experienced, he’s very steady and I’ve been delighted with him.
“Seb has been good but I was also pleased for Ryan, who came into a settled back four with Turner going very well. I thought Ryan played very well but Bassong has been good from day one. He has been part of a defensive unit that has been very good for a period of time.”
Hughton is not a man prone to bask in the moment, but the Norwich boss admitted extending the club’s unbeaten Premier League run to six matches was a notable achievement.
“It is. To be on the run we are on is real tough going because this league has so much quality, whether you play home or away. Most definitely any point away from home at Goodison is a very big point,” he said.
“It is all about making sure we don’t concede the goals at one end to ensure we don’t lose games and then do we have enough quality and enough of the play, can we get into those positions, to get the valuable goals.
“We’re doing it right. We are solid enough and getting the goal to enable us to get a result.
“There has never been a lack of confidence or ability in the players, it is just knowing how to win football matches. Certainly from day one, I’ve known what you have to do to win a game in this division, because they’re all tough, but maybe just that little bit more confidence has made the difference.
“If I look at the team, apart from Ryan, it’s more or less the team that’s been the same for the last five games and I suppose they’re getting to know each other that little bit better.”
Hughton acknowledged Everton had been the dominant force prior to the interval, but insisted the visitors’ always carried an attacking threat.
“I thought over the 90 minutes we deserved something,” he said. “We conceded, from our standards of late, a very soft goal. Probably in that first half period we didn’t keep the ball well enough.
“Everton were certainly the better team over that first 45 minutes, but I think when we are 1-0 down you have to chase it a little bit and you have to ask a bit more of the players and we did that.
“I don’t think there was masses in it, if I look over the whole game. It wasn’t one where either keeper was worked a lot so from that point of view it was quite a tight affair. I was just a little frustrated we got ourselves into good areas in that final third and didn’t make the most of it.”