Norwich City aim to set the record straight against Southampton
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Southampton’s visit to Carrow Road is a chance to prove how far Norwich City have come in the Premier League.
City’s 3-0 defeat on the south coast in August was Alex Neil’s first competitive away loss since taking charge. It was also one of the rare occasions when Norwich were second best in all departments on the Scot’s watch, even before Steven Whittaker’s first half red card.
“Thanks for reminding me,” was Neil’s response when pressed for his reflections on a day to forget. “Their two wide players played very well in the away game and we are mindful of that. Even before the red card they were the better side in the first 30 minutes, but saying that Cameron Jerome had a header six yards out before they scored.
“They started the season really well, but they have found it a bit more difficult of late, although the Arsenal result shows you their capabilities. We want to try and make sure we play as well as we can and limit them. If we play as well as we can there is no question we will have an opportunity to win the game.”
Ronald Koeman’s men looked set to be fighting it out again for European football when they brushed City aside but that festive 4-0 rout of title-challenging Arsenal is the Saints’ only top flight win in the last eight.
“It is the league. It is such a hard league,” said Neil. “I think they are quite direct but they have had to change their game up a little, which is posing them problems in the fact that (Graziano) Pelle is not available. They have Shane Long, who is a completely different style of player. The one thing they are is a powerful team, they have big, powerful, quick players and we are going to have to make sure we match that.”
Neil predicts a different test to the tense 2-0 win over struggling Aston Villa earlier this week and City’s starting line-up is likely to reflect the change in emphasis.
“We haven’t been afraid to make changes,” he said. “Jonny (Howson) had played the majority of the games, there is probably only two he hadn’t started, and he comes back in and gets us the crucial goal.
“Against Villa I felt we needed to control the ball and the game didn’t necessarily pan out that way, but that was my thought process beforehand.
“We were at home and we wanted to dictate the game and someone like Graham Dorrans is as good a link as we have got in the squad between defence and midfield and making those passes into forward areas to get our threatening players on the ball.
“The problem is we have players who are suited to certain games and not maybe others. We have guys who are technically very good and others who are athletically very good. We haven’t got a range of players who are a combination of both, so we need to mix and match when we play certain teams. It is trying to get people like Jonny in the team and Wes (Hoolahan), who is firing on all cylinders at home, and how we complement each other. It is not easy to get as many good players in.”