Norwich City were overdue some ill-feeling at Bournemouth, says Simon Francis
22:45 17 January 2016
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As soon as the team sheet came out, there was the buzz – where was Lewis Grabban?
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The striker had completed his £8m move from Norwich City, to rejoin all his former team-mates at Bournemouth. He had even made his second debut from the bench, in Tuesday’s home defeat to West Ham.
Yet Grabban’s name was nowhere to be seen in Eddie Howe’s starting XI or among his substitutes.
Illness was the given reason – although no one appeared to tell Cherries captain Simon Francis.
Either way, Norwich City’s problems ran far deeper than their former striker on Saturday – while Bournemouth clearly felt the lift of beating a side they had struggled to conquer in recent battles; a win they hope sets the tone over the rest of their debut Premier League campaign. Next stop, Sunderland.
“He was gutted not to feature today,” said Francis of Grabban. “I don’t know the ins and outs of the transfer really, but I presume there’s some sort of agreement that it wouldn’t be right if he played today. You can understand that with the transfer only being a few days ago.
“So he just wanted the lads to put in a performance and get a win – and it was nice to do that for him.
“Grabs is a funny one really. It’s almost like he’s never been away.
“There are a lot of the same lads here so it just feels like we’ve been away for the summer, come back and Grabs is back again. He gets on with the lads really well so he’s settled back in fairly easily and he knows our style of play. We know how to utilise him and he will be a real asset for us this season.”
Setting the record straight with Norwich on the pitch will have to wait for Grabban but not so Bournemouth, who beat the Canaries for the first time since 1959 – although their one point from three previous league games over the last two seasons was perhaps the painful part.
“This is a huge lift for everyone,” added Francis. “Norwich had the better of the games we’d played over the last couple of years so we wanted to put that right, put it to bed, and it was the perfect way to do it.
“I think it proves our progress. Norwich have got some good players and have had some excellent results this season, but we just felt it was our time today.
“Despite the loss against West Ham I thought we’d been on a great run. Not necessarily always winning but playing some great stuff and putting in good performances. We knew results would follow. So to keep a clean sheet and score three in the Premier League against anyone is always tough, but we did it.
“Without sounding too confident or arrogant, we do try to outrun a lot of teams in this division. The stats will back that up. We’re up there for our work rate, our pressing and winning the ball back – and then we show the quality on the ball that we’ve got.
“I thought we did that today – we outworked them, outran them, outpassed them as well, and it led to the chances we had.”
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