And a fair result that was too, beyond its simple existence. Norwich played well enough in the first half to merit a goal, whereas Stoke, though they improved in the second, were about as menacing as Walter the Softie in a pair of rubber pants. They might do well to get men closer to Kenwyne Jones, and moving around him, and if not, need another striker alongside him.
Anyway, thanks for all your emails, sorry I couldn't use them all; why not join me next door, like right now, for Sunderland and Liverpool.
FULL-TIME: Stoke City 0-1 Norwich City
90+4 min Ruddy waits as long as possible to collect a hopeful punt, grabbing it just before it crosses the by-line and ramming it downfield to where Huth can only head into touch. Odd, he's normally so dextrous. Anyway, more nothing happens, and that's pretty much it.
90+2 min Nothing much happens. The ball goes backwards and forwards.
90+1 min Tony Pulis appears with a megaphone to offer Stoke some tactical advice. "Kick it really hard", he hollers.
90 min There shall be but four additional minutes.
89 min Squelcho is not happy. "Imagine my surprise", he or she invites, "when I tuned in to superskysportssundaysizzler and caught them televising pub teams. Keep it cloggy, lads."
That's a little harsh - Norwich were excellent in the first half, though the second has featured little beyond time elapsing.
87 min For all Stoke's possession this half, any real pressure has been more theoretical than actual. They've lacked the wit and technique to pass around Norwich, and the desire - or instruction - to revert to habit, reuniting ball and mixer.
84 min Doesn't Keegan have a better record in the Premier League than all but a handful (Wenger, Mourinho, Pellegrini, Villas-Boas) of the current managers?" asserts Lee Savage with a question mark. "A couple of top 10 finishes with Man City before the cash, never outside the top six with Newcastle. Granted, he's not Ferguson but his record is better than the current Man Utd manager's."
Fair point, but Keegan has failed at the highest level, ultimately, and publicly admitted his shortcomings. On top of that, it's possible - though only possible, as football is fairly simple really - that the game has progressed.
82 min Another change for Norwich, who withdraw Pilkington for Whittaker.
79 min Brilliant shot Snodgrass, brilliant save Begovic. On the right corner of the box, Snodgrass twirls, losing Pieters, and assessing his options, picks the one he'd have fancied in the first instance, unfurling a curler that's headed for the side netting at the far post, about halfway up. But Begovic flung body and arm in its pursuit, shoving it behind for a corner that came to nothing.
78 min Almost an opening for Norwich, Pilkington ploughing through and over Pieters along the by-line, before botching his cross. Stoke then break, but again reach the final third and find themselves with no clue what to do, some kind of ersatz Man United. Accordingly, Nznozi has a shy from distance, trickling it to the right of Ruddy, who collects easily.
77 min It's not really possible to conceive of Elmander without enjoying this.
76 min Substitution for Norwich: Van Wolfswinkel, who's not scored since the opening day, is replaced by Elmander. Presumably the aim is that the ball might be held up better.
75 min And it's not only Mac Millings getting upset, Pieters rousting into Pilkington and earning himself a booking.
73 min Fight, fight, fight. "Something smells off, and it isn't jut the cheese", coruscates Mac Millings. Oh, that's it! Simon McMahon has ripped off my Cheese XI idea from the Germany-Greece game at Euro 2012.
Here it is for those too lazy to click. Quel fromage!
Christian "For" Maggio
Colin Mini Babybel
Roquefort Santa Cruz
Coach: Neufchât-el Tel
Yes, there are 12. It wasn't ch-easy to drop any of them."
70 min Norwich, after almost being caught by a break - Arnautovic, crossing from the left, couldn't quite arrange his cross to coincide with Ireland's arrival in the box - keep the ball for a little while. They don't get anywhere, but are gradually playing themselves back into the half.
68 min "I remember that toothpaste ad", brags Gary Naylor. "Didn't realise it was based on the domestic arrangements of Peter Crouch, Abbey Clancy and Charlie from the Chocolate Factory."
I think the tune is a rip-off of this.
66 min Crouch comes on for Jones, which is a little strange - though Mark Hughes might be keen on his formation, Stoke haven't sent sufficient bodies in the box as to unduly disturb Norwich's defensive equilibrium.
65 min Another headed Norwich clearance reaches Jones, just outside the box, left of centre, and he flicks up, chips and charges, bustling into two men and heading beyond them. Racing after it and from a tight angle, he drives a shot that Ruddy repels at the near post.
64 min Nznozi finds some space and charges into it, right of centre, and the ball finds its way to Pennant, on the touchline. Looking up, and instead of crossing, he clips a straight pass into the box, that Bennett does well to reach ahead of Jones, nodding away.
61 min "Those of you not watching the game on Norwegian telly are missing Kevin Keegan in the pundit's chair", says David Fallon to those of us not watching the game on Norwegian telly - lest there be any. "Solid performance so far; a highlight being leading a discussion on the flight and weight of modern footballs. Would love to see him back in management. Surely I'm not alone in that?"
Where might he go? I suppose it might be worth having him as a cheerleader and man manager - though there plenty who weren't altogether complimentary of his skill in that second area - but his record hardly demands employment.
60 min Norwich contribute, Pilkington moving in off the left to thunk a surprise shot just wide of the near post.
59 min "The hair arrangement of Pilkington is a constant fascination" reckons Peter Harmer. "For those not keeping up, this week's skinhead/clean shaven look has replaced last week's fashionable hair and Amish beard. I can only assume he rolls a dice to decide each morning what to do. Either that or there are two of him…"
He's made an error here - how's he going to fill the hours this week?
57 min Again, Stoke reach the final third only to discover themselves bereft of ideas, Pieters knocking back to Arnautovic, loitering outside the box. He larrups another effort just over the top of the near post.
55 min Stoke push Norwich back, but confronted with disciplined defence, lack the confidence or desire to simply keep the ball moving. Instead, Arnautovic shaniks a pass infield that Nzonzi drags at goal, a stray leg imparting a deflection and earning a fortuitous corner - which comes to nothing.
53 min Stephen Ireland's goatee makes it look as though his head is upside down.
52 min Norwich have hardly rustled up a touch in the last seven minutes - "the archetypal game of two halves" shortcut is readied on laptops across the press box.
50 min Next, another cross tossed over from the left, by Arnautovic and towards Jones, preparing to rise. But before he could, Fer schlepped him back, and though he soon turned a minor infraction into a major bellyflop, the officials were unmoved.
49 min Another Pennant cross achieves nothing directly, but maintains pressure, and Stoke attack next along the left, Pieters finding Arnautovic outside him and his cross only just too long for Pennant.
48 min A long free-kick hit towards Jones, and Ireland knocks the knock-down square to Pennant - but he pulls his cross to no one.
46 min After spending chunks of the first half on his feet, Mark Hughes is now reclined on the bench, arms folded. His shoes are scuffed.
46 min Norwich beginagain.
Changes: Pennant replaces Walters - you really have to wonder, if you're the former - and Ireland replaces Adam.
Half-time ad break. Kid in Stoke pajamas proves that 50s retro was tedious even in the 80s.
It's hard to know quite what's what when games are like this - however well Norwich have played, they've been facilitated by Stoke's poverty, and vice-versa. But let's dole out the credit where it's due first, and observe that Norwich have passed with purpose, patience and composure, before doling out the criticism where it's due second, and observe that Stoke have lumped with thickness, idleness and awkwardness.
HALF-TIME: Stoke City 0-1 Norwich City
45 min There shall be one additional minute.
44 min Forget the hairdryer - Stoke are getting tuttled at half-time.
41 min Fer clumps into Adam for no real reason, and is booked.
40 min Stoke do something decent, Pieters whipping over a low cross that Jones couldn't quite reach - but they need more men assembling in the box for those circumstances, really.
38 min It's possible that Norwich might have been penalised immediately prior to the goal,. Van Wolfswinknel shoving Nzonzi and Shawcross as they went up for the header collected by Pilkington. Expect some complaints from Mark Hughes, who would never dream of such reprehensible behaviours.
35 min Dearie us dept:
"Afternoon Daniel" says Simon McMahon. "I find cheese much more satisfying than cigarettes. Here's my Cheese XI -
Bishop Alan Kennedy
Monterrey Jack Wilshere
Stinking Ian Bishop
Jean Pierre Papin
Only 10 players, I know, but if I tell you the team they play for is Sheffield Wensleydale then that makes 11."
Even with the italics, I'm still stumped by half of those, but you could have Thiago Mottarella.
"And no more than Norwich deserve", and all that. Attacking down their left, Pilkington picked up a headed clearance perhaps 30 yards out, finding Howson, advancing and inside. With only Huth between him and goal, he wound up for a shot as Huth turned his chest, and drilled a shot past Begovic to his right. It wasn't in the corner, and though not easily prevented, was certainly preventable.
GOAL! Stoke City 0-1 Norwich City (Howson, 33)
33 min Something from Stoke, Walters stepping in off the right - he's swapped with Arnautovic - and feeding a pass inside to Adam. Immediately, he sent it one more, to the aforementioned Arnautovic - who swiped across a shot from 30 yards, that whooshed over the bar.
31 min More gentle Norwich pressure.
28 min Even for a ftbllr, Arnautovic is exceptionally fond of himself, shimmying one way then the other after chasing Pieters' pass - with nothing to be gained from either, save a fluttering of the fringe. And immediately, Norwich broke, Pilkington nashing down the left and swerving over a cross aimed for Van Wolfswinkel and which worried Begovic, who missed his catch. The ball then hit Van Wolfswinkel and went behind, the referee giving a free-kick against him for no discernible reason.
26 min Norwich are giving the ball short wherever possible, even from goal-kicks and defensive throw-ins - or should that be throws-in - and Stoke are letting them. The word "hairdryer" was Mark Hughes' neologism, and his players had best brace themselves if they want to start the second half with faces intact.
24 min A bit more like it from Simon Frank, who offers Zinedine Gitanes, while Alex Tettey slams into Nznozi in centrefield - fairly - before Wilson does the same to Van Wolfswinkel - unfairly - and is booked.
23 min Norwich are showing great patience, their men happy to swap positions and move the ball backwards if it means retaining possession. Stoke don't quite appear to have decided whether to press or sit off, so are doing neither to any significant effect.
21 min Cameron slides a ball into the inside-right channel that Jones pursues, Turner shuffling across to cover. That's pretty much as good as it's got for Stoke, so far.
19 min "I won't even bother with No6, No10 (false or otherwise), or the unforgettable Sergio Rizzla," says Jeremy Boyce.
Probably for the best.
18 min Norwich again find space out wide, Martin enjoying Arnautovic's artistic disposition and advancing into space he's far too good to defend. But with plenty men gathered in the box, the cross is clipped back behind all of them.
16 min Still principally without the ball, Stoke regress, Wilson clattering Snodgrass and ceding a free-kick, 40 yards out. Snodgrass takes it himself and Begovic comes, then flaps - due to Turner shoving him in the back. Neither referee nor linesmen see, but nothing comes of it.
13 min There's a brief stoppage after Kenwyne Jones put in some effort, and he left the pitch for a moment with the sheer emotion of the endeavour, but is back now.
11 min Footballing cigarettes is an appalling riff. "Nicky Butt", says Andi Thomas, and "Kamel Ghilas" counters Philippa Booth.
9 min Stoke have been permitted barely a kick thus far, and Olsson, marauding down the left, wins a corner from the right when his excellent cross is diverted behind with minor desperation. Snodgrass then swung his kick in to the back post, and with no one making any sensible effort to clear, Bennett slid to extend a leg from behind his man, firing high against the post, before Begovic smothered the follow-up.
7 min "I read your preamble with interest, and got all fired up," chirps Matt Dony. "Yes! 7 out of 10 is great! You're right, I do tell myself that my partner is 7 out of 10! It's a good thing! So, I told Mrs Dony she's a 'solid 7.' She didn't share my enthusiasm, now I have to make my own coffee. Cheers, Dan. Remind me to slip you some ProPlus sometime..."
Sounds like coffee is the least of your worries...
6 min Snodgrass checks, spins and loses Arnautovic, wide on the right, so Arnautovic charges into him, conceding a free-kick. It's curled in with menace, but Huth is up early, and nods away well.
4 min Martin dashes down the right and slings over a hard, straight cross, that Pilkington - now in a '3', not a '5' - only narrowly misses, coming in from the other side, on the stretch.
3 min It seems that Stoke's official Twitter has invented a new genre of misdirection, claiming that Norwich are lining up in 4-5-1 formation, when in fact it's 4-3-3. Clever, clever.
2 min Pilkington and Fer make ground down the Norwich left - only briefly, but Norwich have begun confidently, and spend the next minute or so knocking the ball around.
1 min Norwich kick off. You'd think, with the proliferation of compelling stats that infest football nowadays, someone might have taken the trouble to prove that teams who begin games with a huddle are more likely to endure horrific punishment beatings.
Norwich huddle. My impartiality is challenged.
The players come out,the referee takes the ball from its plinth - however did football happen prior to that innovation? - and hands are duly shaken. 115 years of beautiful tradition, right there; eitz chayim hee, dude.
Dashing right-winger Jonathan Waters listens to classical music before he plays.
Lambert & Brendan. Any other footballing cigarettes?
The action comes next says Ed Chamberlain, leading into the penultimate break before the action.
Fashionwatch. Hughton has let down his buddies Lambert and Brendan, eschewing the v-neck and tie combo in favour of a syoot. I just don't know what to think anymore.
The MBM recommends. Should you feel it prudent to head off a hangover by taking ibuprofen before bed, and should you not drink coffee, investigate first whether any caffeine is contained therein. Unless you enjoy night terrors and insomnia.
So, Stoke are unchanged - eight of their lot have started every game this season. Norwich, on the other hand, make four alterations, and change formation too: Bennett replaces the injured Bassong, Olsson comes in for Garrido, Tettey is preferred to Redmond and Pilkington edges out Elmander. Isn't elegant variation elegant and varied?
Or, put another way, Stoke have no place for Preamble hero Ireland, and Norwich have no place for Preamble hero Hooper.
Stoke City (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross (c), Huth, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi, Wilson, Adam, Arnautovic; Jones.
Subs: Sorensen, Whelan, Pennant, Palacios, Assaidi, Crouch, Ireland.
Norwich City (4-5-1): Ruddy; Martin (c), Turner, R Bennett, Olsson; Pilkington, Howson, Tettey, Fer, Snodgrass; Van Wolfswinkel.
Subs: Bunn, Whittaker, Johnson, Hooper, Hoolahan, Elmander, Josh Murphy
Man you've yet to grow to hate: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)
Preamble In most circumstances, seven out of 10 is pretty good; an A, a first and stuff. We'd certainly all be pleased to be it, and definitely all tell ourselves our partners definitely are it - which, of course, they all are.
But seven out of 10 is not so good when seven is goals and 10 is games, the combined totals of Stoke and Norwich so far this season. No, seven out of 10 is not so good.
Nonetheless, like life and cheap allegories, this needn't be terrible. After mustering just 34 goals last season - fewer than everyone but Mark Hughes' QPR – under Mark Hughes, Stoke have shifted focus away from point accumulation and towards football playing. The resurrection of Stephen Ireland could well prove a masterstroke, even if inherent aliveness has prevented the same trick working on his gran. And Hughes is also the latest man to try persuading Kenwyne Jones to put in effort; should he fail, well, you can only admire someone brave enough to resist both him and Roy Keane, a devotion to indolence arguably unsurpassed in the modern era.
Norwich, meanwhile, are also trying. Their 41 goals last season was division's next worst, so Chris Hughton signed Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Johan Elmander and Gary Hooper, as well as Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer. It might not have worked so far, but really, it should at some point, and they had a good win at Watford in midweek, Hooper playing the full 120 minutes and scoring twice, which ought to have earned him a starting place.
We shall see.