Norwich City (h) Premier League
11 mins Hatem
Ben Arfa robbed Pilkington just over the halfway line on the United and
strode forward into the City half before playing a short crossfield pass to
Yohan Cabaye. After a little passing triangle between the French pair and
James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Guthrie swapped passes before the
latter pinged it forward for Jonas Gutierrez the outside left spot.
Full time: Magpies 1 Canaries 0
Alan Pardew commented:
"We had eight senior players missing today and we’ve got four or five out for the season. We’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries. Everybody’s pulling together to try to get us the wins we need.
"I think it is important when you play someone like Norwich who play five midfield players, that you have a tackler in there. And my goodness, James showed that from the first three minutes when he won a tackle he had no right to win.
"They (Ba and Cisse) were a little bit closer together, and that worked better for us. If you are going to play two out-and-out strikers like they are, you have got to ask them to work, and they really put in a shift because that extra midfield player Norwich had started to get a grip at times.
"If you can manage to contain it and be able to deal with it, then you have got two goalscorers on the pitch, and that might have been the difference today.
“I thought he (Cisse) had his best game for us today - not just the fact that he threatened the goal, but his link-up play was right up there with the best in this division.
"I’m really pleased he got the goal and he perhaps should have had two more. In training he bangs three or four goals in quick succession. It surprised me that he missed some of them.
“There wasn’t much theatre today but there was a real professionalism on the pitch. Both teams put in a full stint and kind of stopped the other playing a little bit. The flair players could have offered a little more ‘Je ne sais quoi’ today but my goodness, it was a real battle – and it’s nice to win a battle.
"We’re not firing on all cylinders, we’re not balanced and we’re not at our best. But if you can win when you’re not at your best it’s a great ingredient to have.”
"Mike Ashley said to me after the Sunderland game that it was fantastic theatre and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, there wasn't much theatre here, but what there was was a real professionalism on the pitch.
"I asked people to play out of position. It was a real squad effort.
"If I had come here as a coach or
a manager watching that game, you would have to say both teams put in a
full stint and stopped the other playing a little bit."
“Listen, we have a right good lead and we will be fine. I have a great belief in the lads, I trust them 100pc that we can win more games than not and the way they are playing I have no fears whatsoever. We’re sitting there three points behind Swansea who are sitting in eighth so we’ll keep on going.
“We switched off for the goal. We should have got tighter in the penalty box. When you concede a goal that early, you are never quite sure how people are going to react. Coming here we knew it would be tough but we had chances to score. We switched off for the goal – the lads know that – they don’t need me to tell them, but I thought the way we played afterwards was very good.
“It was probably the only moment when we switched off but we knew coming here it was going to be difficult with such a vibrant crowd. Disappointed to lose, but not disappointed with how we played. John made a couple of great saves, but like I have said before he is playing really well for us. You just come to expect that from him now.
“I think they have a top, top goalkeeper as well who had to make some saves. That shows we never just came here and sat back. We tried to win the match and on another day we might have got something.
“I thought we came here and took the
game to them and they are a team who have shown everyone this season how
well they are playing. Performance-wise was very good. I was delighted how
we came back. I thought we started to dominate the ball and in possession
we were excellent.
"We were disappointed to lose the
goal but at the same time they showed the reaction was there to try and
get something back, but as I said before, we were up against a very good
side there. At 1-0 down you are always in the game and on another day we
might have got one.”
Two weeks after over 52,000 fans gathered here
to watch a battle between warring factions played under FA rules, slightly
fewer were present for a calmer and more sedate affair. The comparative lack
of atmosphere for this game though disguises the vital importance of the
victory to all concerned - a first win in five games a genuine cause for
celebration, and relief.
Meanwhile, Jonas Gutierrez filled in at left
back, Yohan Cabaye started in front of him and Hatem Ben Arfa took up
position down the right flank. Neither Gabriel Obertan or Shane Ferguson
made the bench, but Ryan Donaldson was drafted in from reserve team oblivion
to make the numbers up (had the manager wanted to make a point, he'd have
presumably omitted him and named just six subs).
The inevitable change came with Ben Arfa replaced, but despite Shola Ameobi warming up, Davide Santon
was reintroduced at left back and Jonas pushed into a more orthodox left wing
Shola then make his entrance, but there were still nothing more than half chances for United as they tried to finish off City who pressed forward more and more towards the closing