Norwich City’s Ryan Bennett hoping to keep it tight against Southampton

Ryan Bennett, centre, has been in the thick of the action of late with fellow central defender Michael Turner out injured. Ryan Bennett, centre, has been in the thick of the action of late with fellow central defender Michael Turner out injured.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
12:01 PM

Defender Ryan Bennett will be hoping for a less eventful 90 minutes than his two previous encounters with Southampton when he bids to help Norwich City extend their unbeaten Premier League run tonight.

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Bennett looks certain to keep his place in the Canaries’ back four at St Mary’s Stadium (7.45pm) after an impressive return to the senior side in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Everton.

The 24-year-old replaced the injured Michael Turner and proved a willing ally for central defensive partner and late goalscorer Sébastien Bassong in keeping the Toffees’ strike force in check after City conceded only their second goal in six league games, as early as the 12th minute.

Chris Hughton’s men have featured in a run of low-scoring matches, in marked contrast to this evening’s opponents, for the newly-promoted Saints’ 13 Premier League fixtures so far have produced a total of 50 goals, 20 scored and 30 conceded. Does it point to a more open contest for City tonight?

“It can do if you look at the stats like that,” said Bennett. “But I think every game is different and they will approach it in a different way to how they’ve approached every other game they’ve played this season. They’ll look at what we do and we’ll look at what they do and I’m sure there will be some differences in the game but we’ll hope to keep it tight and nick the win.

“We will have a plan and we’ll go out there and give our best performance and I’m sure if we play well we definitely have what it takes to win.”

The goal rush that seems to follow Nigel Adkins’ team around tallies with Bennett’s past experience of facing Southampton, where his two matches against them for Peterborough in 2011 delivered a total of 11 goals. Eight of them came in a League One meeting at London Road, and the rest, after both sides had won promotion, in a Championship fixture at St Mary’s 12 months ago.

Said Bennett: “We drew 4-4 at home and in the other game we lost 2-1 with 10 men. We had 10 men from the 30th minute when we played them at their place and lost 2-1, but we did all right that game.

“It’s a very nice ground. When I’ve played there before it’s been one of the highlights of the season, playing in a stadium like that. But now I’ve come to Norwich, there are a lot of great stadiums. The pitch is always nice there so it’s something to look forward to.”

City have taken 12 points from the past six Premier League games thanks to a win at home, draw away sequence, but know that the revitalised Saints will be just one point behind them if they become their third victims in a row.

“Yes, they will, but we’re thinking about pushing ourselves up the table and, I hope, pushing them further back down,” said Bennett, hoping the Canaries can register their first Premier League away win since Easter Monday but well aware of Southampton’s strengths – they have scored twice as many goals as Hughton’s team.

“Every time I’ve played against them their attacking players have done very well. They’ve got the new lad, Gaston Ramirez, who I’ve not seen before and I’m sure they’ll come as a good attacking unit to us,” said Bennett.

“It’s been well documented the amount of money they’ve spent. They’ve started to pick their performances up and we know it will be a tough game.”

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