Norwich City’s hard work and team spirit pays off again

Norwich have finally kept their first clean sheet of the season with a gritty performance against Chelsea and it helped them to a fantastic point in a fantastic season. In my opinion Norwich have been the surprise package in the Premier League and this is down to their team spirit and hard work. They are essentially a team built of ambitious Championship and League 1 players with another in Jonny Howson close to joining the club from Leeds.

Looking at the team they were rightly favourites for relegation but the bubble still hasn’t burst from two consecutive promotions. Paul Lambert deserves great credit for bringing this team together and making sure everyone single player knows their job before they even step foot on the pitch. But if he wants to improve the team it surely has to be in the defence although the team performed superbly against Chelsea they have at times looked awful when defending.

In attack, they have two players who will battle for every ball and chase down every lost cause. It must be a nightmare to play against Steve Morison and Grant Holt because they do not give defenders a moments rest and when they come off the pitch they will probably discover a few bumps and bruises. This is not to say they are dirty players because they are clearly just very honest and committed professionals who will do anything to secure three points. They are both very good in the air and when the team is under pressure they know they can send the ball slightly longer as these two will have a good chance of relieving the pressure off the defence and make the ball stick up front.

Which allows the midfield to push forward and create chances and in Anthony Pilkington they have someone who can pick a pass or deliver an inch perfect cross with his left foot. He has also chipped in with a few goals this year which is a bonus but he also always provides plenty of cover for his full back when the team is defending. In the centre of midfield they have Bradley Johnson who has been linked with a call up to the England squad and although this is unlikely, he has deserved his praise this season. Alongside him against Chelsea was David Fox who does the simple things brilliantly and just keeps the game ticking over and very rarely gives the ball away. He just sits in front of the back four and doesn’t mind getting the ball even when he is under pressure, he doesn’t put in many tackles so he is similar to Michael Carrick in that respect.

The defence can be shaky but in Kyle Naughton they have a very good full back and was probably going to have a good career at Tottenham until Kyle Walker came along this season. But the rest of the defence could do with improving although Russell Martin deserves a special mention as he has performed admirably at both centre back and right back.

John Ruddy in goal has also been linked with an England call up and was given man of the match against Chelsea as he produced a few good saves in particular a brilliant save from a Fernando Torres effort.

Paul Lambert in my opinion deserves manager of the year and Norwich deserve all the plaudits coming their way. However, Blackpool were in a similar position last year and they ended up getting relegated so maybe it is too early for Norwich fans to be celebrating. They have enough togetherness in the squad to stay up but this is when promoted teams get found out and teams work out how to beat them. Norwich need to get to 40 points as quickly as possible and this point against Chelsea could be priceless come the end of the season.

Thierry Henry- The return of the Gunners legend

With a weekend of retuning legends, Thierry Henry has overshadowed Paul Scholes and looks every bit as good as when he left all those years ago for Barcelona. He may not have the pace anymore but he knows where the space is and he exploited it magnificently in his second debut against Leeds in the FA cup.

Yes it is against lower opposition but Henry did what Chamakh couldn’t in 68 minutes and that was score against a resolute Leeds defence. The way he moved inside the full back was clever and then he showed the finesse to coolly slot the ball past the advancing keeper as he has done so many times for Arsenal.

He might just give Arsenal the spark they need to challenge for honours once again and Arsene Wenger may be glad he brought him back and even just on this one cameo performance may be regretting ever letting him go in the first place.

His celebration showed everyone he still has the passion and wears the Gunners shirt with pride and the way he hugged his gaffer shows the respect he has for the man that made him the player he is essentially. Henry signed for Arsenal after a poor spell in Italy and the fans were probably struggling to work out why Wenger was so desperate to get him and paid then what seemed to be a lot of money which now seems insignificant after all the goals he scored and there have been some special ones. The one that springs to mind the most is when he flicked the ball up for himself and volleyed it past fellow Frenchman Fabien Barthez in a massive game against title challengers Manchester United. Simply, the audacity to try that in such a big game shows that he doesn’t let pressure get to him and he can turn it on in the big games which many of Arsenal’s big stars have failed to do in recent seasons.

Arsenal fans will be wishing that the loan lasts only two months because he could prove the big difference between them winning trophies and flattering to deceive as they have done so many times. If he had been in the team against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final would the result have been any different?

The frightening thing is if he can produce the goods and strike up a  good partnership with currently the most in form striker in the Premier League Robin Van Persie then Arsenal will once again be a team that everyone fears.

Looking at things that have changed at Arsenal, there is no Fabregas, Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira or Bergkamp so he will have to play alongside the inconsistent Walcott, the promising but young midfielder Aaron Ramsey and the sometimes lazy Andrei Arshavin but what Wenger is hoping for along with goals is that he can mentor these players and teach them things as he did against Leeds, whilst sitting on the bench, Arshavin put a shot over the bar and straightaway Henry leaned into Walcott and gave him some tips on what to do in that situation and the England international seemed to be hanging on his every word.

His teammates may not be as good as they once were but he could still light up the Premier League with a hatful of goals and majestic performances we all know he is capable of. He hasn’t lost his footballing ability. So can he bring the va va voom back to the Premier League