Jonny Howson sees reaction from Norwich City in Chelsea defeat
Jonny Howson believes Norwich City delivered a positive reaction from their Liverpool defeat – even if their best was not good enough to topple the champions of Europe.
Grant Holt's early opener – his second in two games – momentarily suggested a shock at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, before Chelsea rushed through the gears and comfortably took all three points.
But the 90 minutes was still an improvement on City's 5-2 defeat to Liverpool at Carrow Road seven days earlier, and Howson felt it provided the response City boss Chris Hughton had called for.
'The effort is always there, that's never been a question, but yes I think there was a reaction,' said Howson. 'It may not have been the turning point, but a key moment in the game was when they equalised within three minutes of Grant scoring.
'Coming in at half-time 3-1 down, with the second half – OK, it's a terrific finish from Ivanovic to twist on it and put it in from there. But apart from that, I think we restricted them to very little. So I think you can take positives, especially from the second half. But at times we did play some good stuff and created some good chances, so we can learn from this experience.'
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In the end City were powerless to prevent their hosts rolling through them, almost at will – led by the supreme trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Brazilian starlet Oscar.
The forward three – playing behind Fernando Torres – mixed, matched and moved the Canaries all over the place once Roberto di Matteo's men got into their stride.
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And on Saturday's evidence, it will take a lot to stop the European champions in their bid for Premier League glory. Certainly this weekend, they were too hot for Norwich to handle.
'It's obviously difficult at times, dealing with those three, and we were very aware of that before the game – especially in that final third,' said Howson. 'The passing and movement, and the possession; at times they are all over the place.
'And especially when they've got players like (Frank) Lampard who is going to pick them out and pick out their well timed runs, it was always going to be difficult.
'On a personal note, for me it was the movement and the interchange they have. It was one-touch two-touch football and they're difficult to pick them up at times with their pace and they are technically gifted players.
'There is a reason why they are European champions, top of the league at the minute and flying.
'They've got a 100pc record here this season and have spent millions on players. Even for the future, they're going to have real top class – especially Hazard and Oscar; I was really impressed with them today.
'Saying all that, we got off to a great start and I think if we could've just held on to that a bit longer, who knows what could have happened.'
Indeed, City's first-half lead was short lived as Torres replied almost immediately – after which, Chelsea kicked on.
'I thought it was more than three minutes...' smiled Howson. 'If we could've just settled the game down; them equalising almost turns the game on its head straight away. It puts them back on the front foot and it gives them huge encouragement. The longer we could've held out, it obviously stops that.
'But when you've got world class players, they can come up with things and they bounce straight back.'
With the latest international break this coming weekend, it leaves a little longer than usual for City to contemplate Arsenal's visit to Carrow Road on Saturday week – something they will do in the top-flight relegation zone. But Howson believes the Norwich dressing room is maintaining its positive outlook.
'It's very much been the same – we are obviously all disappointed when we come in on a Monday morning after the game, especially when you've had a defeat because no player likes to lose any competitive game,' said Howson.
'I think that's through the frustration of losing games, but the morale is still there. Out on the training pitch we're still doing the same things, the attitude has been the same. There's been no signs of any of that changing and it's still early days in the season.
'I'm sure if we keep working the way we are and if we just get that bit of luck to turn around, then it will come. It's a good group of lads and there are some great characters in that dressing room, and we will stick together because it's a close knit bunch.
'It's obviously going to be very difficult to get ourselves out of this situation, but it's eight games – still early days – and the thing we knew at the start of the season is it's a very tough league and every single game is difficult.
'So the mind set isn't going to change. We will keep trying to do the same things.'