Anthony Pilkington bids to be Norwich City’s leading man

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington relishes being in the spotlight against the big boys. Pic

Norwich City midfielder Anthony Pilkington relishes being in the spotlight against the big boys. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Anthony Pilkington is keen to find out whether his penchant for scene-stealing against the Premier League's best remains intact ahead of Chelsea's Carrow Road visit.

The 25-year-old's towering header inflicted a 1-0 top flight defeat on champions Manchester United last season and the wide player was also an integral part of the side who toppled Arsenal on home soil.

Pilkington readily admits there is something deep inside that stirs when faced with the prospect of overcoming the Premier League's finest.

'Even though we are all professionals I would be lying if I said we didn't love playing the very big teams,' he said. 'That is what everyone enjoys. As a player, first-hand, I can tell you when the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City come around you really enjoy it a lot more and it probably looks like you put in that extra yard and do that little bit more than you would against a Stoke. You see last season in the games against Arsenal and Manchester United at Carrow Road the tempo was really up there and we were in their faces and we picked up some really good points against the big teams so I see no reason why we can't do that again this time around. When the fans get behind you it is enjoyable for them and us in these type of games at Carrow Road.'

Pilkington knows it is not just the likes of the recalled Juan Mata they have to subdue on the pitch, but arguably the best manager in the professional game on the touchline.

'He is one of the best. It is as simple as that. You look at his record and his trophy collection. His house must be massive for all the trophies that he has to fit in there,' he said. 'He is a great manager and it looks like Chelsea will be up their challenging again like when he was there the first time. They got a good result in the Champions League in midweek so we are under no illusions how tough it will be. You can understand why any player would want to play for him because he manages the best teams, he has managed the top teams in Europe and won trophies but hopefully come the weekend he won't be going home happy on Sunday.

'I am a bit surprised Mata has not been a regular in the team because for me he has been their best player for the past two years, but this is Jose Mourinho we are talking about here. He obviously knows what he is doing. He is probably the best manager in football now Sir Alex has stepped down so it is up to him who he picks.'

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Pilkington insists City's squad will not be daunted by the prospect of facing the Blues after a confidence-boosting away win at Stoke.

'It was a big win because it is always difficult to go to a place like Stoke and pick up any points, never mind three,' he said. 'The way we did it was really good as well and we came away with a deserved win. We have taken a lot of confidence from that and hopefully we can take that into Chelsea. You can just tell in training this week the boys look sharp, the tempo is up and the mood is good. The spirit is high and all the boys are laughing and joking. It is amazing what a good win can do for a squad. I said it after that game it was always going to take time for the new lads to gel and bed in and you see now with people like Leroy Fer, who I thought was excellent at Stoke, they are starting to settle in.'

The Republic of Ireland international made his first Premier League start of the new season at the Britannia and Pilkington is in no mood to relinquish his hard-earned place in the line up.

'I'm back starting and that is where I always want to be. I work hard to get into the side and I have to work even harder to keep my place,' he said. 'I enjoy playing football and that is all I want to do. It is up to me now to keep the shirt. I felt I had a decent performance at Stoke and hopefully I can keep my place and put in another good performance. If you have a bad game there is one or two who can now come in to your position so you have to be on your toes; if you are not playing well you will find yourself on the bench.'