Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Chris Hughton is urging the Canaries to embrace the challenge ahead of this weekend’s daunting Premier League trip to leaders Chelsea.
City face the champions of Europe fresh from a heavy home defeat to Liverpool which prolonged the wait for a first top flight win of the new season.
Norwich host Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal at Carrow Road the following week before a first reunion with Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa later this month. Hughton acknowledged his squad’s mettle will be fully tested with some big Premier League battles on the horizon.
“You are always worried the longer it goes without that first win but you have to demand a response from the players,” he said. “Irrespective of where the game is – here or away from home, top of the table or whatever. You have to look for a response from the players.
“It’s a challenge, it’s a test of character but there isn’t a player who hasn’t been through a poor run or a poor performance. It is about showing more grit and determination. It is a results business and that is why you look for a reaction and I expect to see one. This season is not over. It is not about six, seven, eight or ten games, it is about a season’s worth of games and we have to make sure we pick up points – the sooner the better.”
Hughton will hope to have both Sebastien Bassong (hamstring) and Anthony Pilkington (back) in contention for the trip to Stamford Bridge after missing the weekend Liverpool defeat. The City boss believes he has plenty of fresh options at his disposal.
“There is competition for places here, but you are looking for the right formulas,” he said. “If you look at the Liverpool game we have scored two goals and that has been the problem, but you also have to get it right so that you are solid and not in danger of conceding at the other end – which had been the case in the last four games. For whatever reason, we have gone against the trend of that period. We will strive on and look to bounce back. We had a similar defeat in the first game of the season and we saw that we got a real good reaction from the lads. We are going to try and have that again.”
City midfielder Robert Snodgrass insists that weekly fight to nail down a starting spot can only improve the Canaries’ prospects for success.
“Yes, there’s some great competition. I said that as soon as I arrived here. There are some good footballers and it’s just a headache for a manager to try to fit everybody into those positions,” he said. “But I’m sure he would like to have that headache rather than not having players fighting for positions. The manager picks the team and it’s a team game. It’s a long season and it’s about trying to do as well as you can each individual game. ”