Norwich City’s lack of yellow cards not an issue for Chris Hughton
Chris Hughton is adamant Norwich City possess a mean streak to survive in the Premier League.
The Canaries' healthy disciplinary record this season is in stark contrast to their position in the early standings after a testing start to the new top flight campaign.
City's weekend defeat at Chelsea was the fifth Premier League game where they have avoided any bookings – leaving Jonny Howson and Leon Barnett as the only men to incur the wrath of the match officials to date. The likes of potential league rivals Wigan and QPR are both in double figures already on the crime count, but Hughton insists accusations his men have proved to be a soft touch are well wide of the mark.
'Are we competitive enough? Yes, we are. If you're looking at the nature of the players we have, we have players that can look after themselves,' he said. 'I think that's probably just a coincidence.
'Against Chelsea, with what they've got and the movement they've got, you look at the priorities.
'The priorities are more to try to cover the holes because if you're trying to challenge somebody and they're bouncing that ball around you and utilising the spaces they've got it is a problem. You look at any team that plays against them, you try to cover the holes so they can't find the spaces. That's more important than looking not to give fouls away.'
Norwegian international Alex Tettey earned his first Premier League start for the club in a midfield that also featured Howson and Bradley Johnson – the latter a touch fortunate not to receive a yellow card for a second half skirmish that felled both David Luiz and Jon Obi Mikel.
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'If you look at the way we set the team up, which was a back four, a middle four and Wes (Hoolahan) playing in advanced midfield position, we set ourselves up to try to be as solid as we can,' said Hughton.
'What you can't stop them doing, because they have such good rotation with the front three, is getting the ball. What you have to do is stop them getting close to the goal, and I thought in a first half period, for a team away from home, we restricted their chances. Unfortunately we didn't defend well enough on the goals and that will be the case for a lot of teams that go there.'
Hughton plans to make the very most of the fortnight's international break for the majority of his squad to prepare for Arsenal's Premier League visit to Carrow Road.
'I hope it has come at a good time because it gives us an opportunity to work with some of the players. We will of course lose some as well but in that respect it is a positive,' he said. 'Defeats are hurting everybody. At the moment we're going through a difficult period - but so are other clubs. We're not out on a limb.
'For clubs like ours, the season is always about making sure we retain Premier League status. That was no different at the start of the season from where we are now, which is seven games in with an awful lot of football to be played.'
• FAIR PLAY TABLE
(yellow/red cards, points in brackets)
Norwich City 2/0 (2)
Fulham 4/0 (4)
Arsenal 6/0 (6)
Manchester City 6/0 (6)
Reading 7/0 (7)
Tottenham 6/1 (8)
Sunderland 8/0 (8)
Southampton 8/0 (8)
WBA 8/1 (10)
Manchester Utd 10/0 (10)
Chelsea 10/0 (10)
QPR 10/1 (12)
Liverpool 10/2 (14)
Wigan Athletic 12/1 (14)
Newcastle Utd 14/0 (14)
Everton 14/0 (14)
Swansea City 12/2 (16)
Stoke City 15/1 (17)
Aston Villa 16/1 (18)
West Ham 18/0 (18)