Forward-thinking Norwich City boss Chris Hughton looks to future battles
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's team sheet against Arsenal was more than a passing nod to the potential crunch Premier League fixtures that will decide the Canaries' top flight fate.
Chris Hughton revealed after City's late defeat at the Emirates that Wes Hoolahan had been given a breather, while fellow Republic of Ireland squad man Anthony Pilkington was granted another weekend off after missing a month with a hamstring injury suffered in the home Premier League draw against Southampton.
'It was just a precautionary thing with Anthony,' said Hughton. 'I want him for the five games we have left of the season so we had to look at the bigger picture. After not playing for a month, I had decided I wouldn't start with him and you then have a decision to make whether you use him from the bench. With Wes, I just decided to make a change for this one. He has played a lot of games, Wes and I just felt it was the right time to give him a rest.'
Fellow midfielder Bradley Johnson was a frest injury casualty at his boyhood club after being caught by old adversary Bacary Sagna. Johnson attempted to continue after treatment but was replaced by David Fox for the final 30 minutes before leaving the stadium on crutches, but Hughton is optimistic he will be available for Reading's Carrow Road visit.
'We feel it is just a dead leg. He is one who will be sore for a few days but we expect him to be alright,' said Hughton.
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'I didn't see the actual challenge but it better not be a bad one because he has been criticised for one here in the past, which I don't think was justified. My thought at the time was there was nothing in it. I must say fair play to David Fox. He hasn't had much involvement this season and he came on and did well.'
Hughton bolstered his midfield at the Emirates with Kei Kamara and Robert Snodgrass flanking Johnson, Jonny Howson and Alex Tettey.
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'On clear-cut chances you know they are going to have the bulk of possession, but I think we have made a real good account of ourselves,' he said. 'We didn't have loads of chances but we played the game right way. At times we gave away possession a little bit easy. This is a very difficult place to come with the quality they have got and I have to say we showed some naivety at 1-1 to allow the second goal, I must admit, and we have to hold our hands up, but apart from that we were excellent. It is difficult to come here and not have the balance of play go against you.
'I thought we were spot on in the way we played. I certainly couldn't fault the endeavour of the team.'