Alex Neil - My Norwich City players will never raise the white flag
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil is adamant Norwich City's squad had not started to question whether they are good enough to mix it in the Premier League before a stirring 1-1 draw against title-chasing Arsenal.
Norwich went into the game on the back of one league win in eight which has stalled much of their early-season momentum, but Neil insisted there had been grounds for optimism. Lewis Grabban marked his return to the starting line-up in the league with a cool finish to cancel out Mesut Ozil's earlier opener and Norwich carved out the best chance to complete an improbable comeback when Wes Hoolahan spooned Andre Wisdom's cross over Petr Cech's bar from close range.
Arsenal were hampered by the injury exits of Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez at Carrow Road, but Neil insisted that should not detract from a clear statement of intent from his men.
'Our spirit has been great. We have not had many good results in recent weeks but our performances in the main have been very good,' he said. 'The one thing that has never changed is the atmosphere around the training ground, the spirit among the boys. We haven't turned on each other. They are fighting for each other and the cause.
'We are going to rely on that, we are going to need that but it is also important that I am level-headed with them. We don't get too high or too low. We want points and wins and we have to work as hard as we can and play as well as we can from one to 11 pretty much every match, especially against the bigger teams.
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'I don't think it was a case of saying Arsenal didn't play as well as they can. I would look at our team, how well we set up and how difficult we made it for Arsenal. I would certainly give my team the credit. You start to believe more as the game goes on. As the game developed our ball retention got better and we added some attack-minded players from the bench.'
Grabban certainly took his chance to impress after a season which until his equaliser was defined by his disappearing act from the team hotel prior to the Capital One Cup win over Rotherham.
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'Every player goes out there with something to prove. The fact he hasn't been involved probably means there is more of an edge to him and his performance,' said Neil. 'That is what Lewis is capable of doing for us. I was really pleased for him and the group. It is a really simple situation for me. I have a really good relationship with Lewis but like any player if they break the rules or do something that shouldn't happen then they will be punished. It has not been an issue. He accepted his punishment at the time and we move on.
'He has been training for the best part of five to six weeks to prepare to get ready to play. He put himself behind other people in the pecking order with what happened so that ultimately is why he hadn't been involved, but I felt this game suited him.'