Friday, December 21, 2012
Norwich City are threatening to trump West Bromwich Albion as this season’s Premier League surprise package. But that is something the Baggies will look to put right this weekend, according to their midfield star James Morrison.
City head to The Hawthorns on Saturday aiming to protect their current run of 10 top-flight games without defeat under Chris Hughton.
Coincidentally, then-Birmingham boss Hughton was widely linked with the vacancy left by England manager Roy Hodgson at Albion before Steve Clarke stepped up from a number two at Liverpool to being a number one for the first time.
That decision looked inspired as Albion started in superb form and after wins over Chelsea and Sunderland completed a four-match winning streak, they sat third behind only the two Manchester clubs.
But since then, Albion have just one point and one goal from four matches. They now sit two points and one place above eighth-placed Norwich.
So the boot may be on the other foot at the weekend, but highly rated midfielder Morrison believes West Brom can use Sunday’s goalless Hawthorns draw with West Ham to their advantage and dish out their own form-ending lesson to the Canaries.
“Norwich have been on a good run,” said the 26-year-old Scot. “They have got midfielders who like to press, like Bradley Johnson. We know the kind of confidence you can take from a run like that so we need to put an end to it. When it’s flowing, it’s easier to play. They are in great form and we have to stop that.
“We knew there would be a sticky patch at some point. We have to keep our season going. We’ve got a good squad. We have a few injuries, but I feel if you have a bad game there is pressure on you because of the players we have in the squad.
“Coming on the back of three defeats is never nice, but we have got that off our own back so we can look forward to Norwich.”
Faltering over Christmas had previously been Norwich’s domain but that myth has been put to bed over recent seasons, while City’s record at Albion was perfect last season thanks to 2-1 victories in the league and FA Cup. However, Albion are already hoping their own nightmares of Christmas past do not visit again in 2012.
“Christmas can set you up for the season – we’ve struggled with it in the past and we can’t do that this year,” added Morrison. “We struggled under Robbie (Di Matteo), under Tony (Mowbray) and even Roy – but we have no excuse now.
“We’ve got players who know what it takes and who can respond to a sticky patch. Maybe we need one or two players, in January but we have got a squad that’s good enough to see us through this period.”
The Canaries will also be braced for a tough run of fixtures coming up, with five games in the space of just 15 days. Following Saturday’s trip to West Bromwich, City host Premier League title contenders Chelsea and Manchester City between Christmas and New Year. A visit to West Ham United on New Year’s Day then precedes Norwich’s short hop west to Peterborough in the FA Cup on January 5.