11 September ~ Norwich City’s decent draws against Wigan Athletic and Stoke City and frightening the bejesus out of Chelsea is, we hope, a signal of intent, so a game at home to West Bromwich Albion is exactly the kind of match the Canaries want to be playing after an international break. It’s time to get our first three points and move on, or before we know it autumn will have be over and we’ll not have made double figures. Both sets of fans have taken the pragmatic approach and divided their Premier League fixtures into “must win”, “mustn’t lose” and “just don’t get humiliated”; with Norwich’s tails up and West Brom’s unlucky start to the season, this game is definitely categorised by both teams side as “must win”.
The calendar has been kind to Norwich, giving us one “big” club a month with the other teams nicely jumbled up, offering a real chance of collecting a stash of brave away draws and plucky-yet-stylish home points before being put back in our place by a billionaire bully. The calendar has not been so kind to West Brom. No one honestly wants to face Man Utd and Chelsea in their opening fixtures, nor are Stoke the most heart-warming prospects, so it will be with some relief that Roy Hodgson brings his team to Carrow Road to engage in what he might consider his first “normal” game of the season.
It may seem arrogant to Baggies fans, however, that Norwich fans believe we can win it. Under Paul Lambert we’ve seen our team evolve constantly, learn from each game and exude a confidence not seen since we were sitting eight points clear at the top of the Premier League (yes, that really did happen). Saying that, West Brom are a club Norwich now look to emulate – consistently a Premier League or top Championship side – and the stability and support at The Hawthorns is very much mirrored at Carrow Road. We’d even quite like Uncle Roy to come and babysit for us when Paul Lambert inevitably moves on to a bigger family.
It took Stoke three men to tie down Grant Holt so West Brom will struggle to do the same, and Shane Long’s pace could lead to Norwich conceding their fourth penalty in as many games. It’ll be open, entertaining and such a good match that Alan Shearer won’t have to say the words “at this level” even once. Paul Buller