Norwich bounced back from an appalling first-half to swat West Ham aside and bound out of the relegation zone
That's the three points, all right, because that was the last kick of the game! Norwich bound out of the relegation places to 15th, and above West Ham to boot, after following up a desperate first-half performance with a superlative second-half showing! So Carrow Road Hammerthon XXII was something of a minor classic after all!
How Fer's grown into this game! He was dismal in the first half, but he's been magnificent in the second, and he's just sealed the victory for Norwich. He snaffles the ball from Tomkins, advances on the area, drifting to the left, then threads a shot into the bottom right, just inside the post and away from Jaaskelainen's fingertips. That'll be the three points!
90 min +2: Bennett skelps a clearance straight into Nolan's midriff. That'll hurt.
90 min +1: There will be three added minutes. The second the clock ticks into the red, Redmond cuts in from the left and looks to fizz a spectacular sealer into the top right. Nope!
90 min: They might not have been earlier, but Norwich are pressing hard now all right. West Ham can't get out of their own half at the moment. Ah, hold on, here comes their first break in a while. Downing skitters around on the right-hand edge of the area, but he's quickly robbed of the ball.
87 min: Changes. One apiece. Jarvis comes on for Noble, while Hooper makes way for Johnson.
86 min: West Ham are enjoying territorial advantage at the moment, but Norwich seem happy enough to sit back and soak it all up. Eventually they break upfield. Redmond gets free down the left, and whips a low ball into the centre. Collins slices the ball into the sky, then it rolls off Elmander's back by the near post. It breaks to Scottish Garrincha, six yards out. Let's start calling him Snodgrass again, is the short end to this entry. He skies a hopeless effort miles over the bar. In fact, he wouldn't even get three rugby points for that, because he'd shanked it to the left, too. Dearie me. What a miss. Will it be costly for Norwich, who desperately need the points?
84 min: A free kick from the left is floated into the Norwich area. It brushes Martin's arm, but that's never a penalty. Then another ball coming in from the same wing. The ball's bouncing slowly towards Ruddy, who hesitates. Bennett is in total control of the situation, though, calmly shielding it so the keeper can eventually come and claim. You could hear a few sharp intakes of breath in the stand.
82 min: Elmander, his back to goal, 12 yards out, spins quickly and looks to whip a shot into the top right. His effort is always flying wide, but decent enough, seeing he carved something out of nothing. "Right, you can have the gin bottle back," hiccups Tom Shaw. "It's empty. Hand me a gun." You stay away from that 3D printer, young man! I mean it, now!
80 min: A corner for Norwich down the right. A high ball's whipped into the area. Fer, near the penalty spot, mistimes his jump and heads well wide left of goal. Half a chance spurned, though to be fair to Fer that would have taken some finish. Down the other end, Diame has a dig from distance, advancing down the inside right and rolling a shot towards the bottom-right corner that's easily snaffled by Ruddy. What a ten minutes lie ahead of us!
77 min: Redmond burns past Rat down the right, but his cross is just a tad too high for Snodgrass, the Scottish Garrincha (see MBMs passim). Norwich are soon coming back at West Ham, the much-improved Fer bustling down the middle then sliding the ball to the right for Hooper to send a fierce daisycutter towards the right-hand corner. Jaaskelainen was always going to gather that. Norwich's confidence has come flooding back.
75 min: Just before that stunner whistled into the net, West Ham had swapped Joe Cole for Diame. Now they've hooked Collison too, throwing on Carlton Cole. To a man, West Ham looked stunned. They were so dominant in the first half, while Norwich were nothing short of pathetic. No more! No more! Norwich are first to everything. This is a very impressive response by the home side. Whatever happens now, manager Chris Hughton deserves massive credit for his half-time shake-up.
What a turnaround this is! What a transformation in Norwich! Nolan is booked for an infringement on a Norwich player's person, and it's a free kick 25 yards from goal, level with the right-hand post. Snodgrass steps up, and curls a power shot up and over the wall, then into the right-hand corner! That's unstoppable, and simply magnificent!
71 min: Noble is robbed near the centre circle by Fer, who releases Howson into space down the middle. He advances on the area, and when 30 yards out, unleashes a screaming, dipping shot which clatters off the crossbar, near the junction with the right-hand post. What an effort that was!
68 min: Downing wins a corner off Olsson down the right. He swings the set piece to the far post, where Tomkins ludicrously misses to the left of goal with a header from six yards. Some of his blushes are spared by the fact Reddy's won a free kick for coming out and flapping at the ball. Referees really need to sort this out, the ludicrous protection keepers get is surely a hundred times more irritating than diving, which at least has some aesthetic merit.
66 min: Sure enough, having said that, Rat is found in acres down the left twice in 60 seconds. The first time he clips a ball inside for Morrison, who drifts across and feeds Downing down the right. That move comes to nothing, but the ball's soon worked around for another phase of pressure in front of the Norwich box. This time Rat should be sent clear down the left, but the ball behind Snodgrass by Unidentified Clumsy Hammer is way too strong.
65 min: For the first time since the opening ten minutes, this game is in the balance. West Ham aren't pinging it around with the same confidence, and Rat's not getting as much space to scurry along the left. Norwich will be happy enough with this at the moment.
63 min: Rat straddles a prone Snodgrass down the left wing. The crowd bay for a red, but he's not actually stamped on the player, though he was mighty close to doing so, whether accidentally or not. The referee, full of love, takes no action.
60 min: Fer, like the rest of his team-mates, has his tail up now, finally. He tries to curl one into the top corner - not sure which one, to tell the truth - from nigh-on 30 yards. He scores three rugby points. "What did I [DISCREET EDIT MADE BY GUARDIAN FAMILY FUN EDITOR] tell you?" sobs Tom Shaw. "Now, where's that [DISCREET EDIT MADE BY GUARDIAN FAMILY FUN EDITOR] gin bottle?" Sigh. Here you go. Just a small one now. Don't forget the tonic and cucumber (tonic and cucumber not included).
56 min: Seems existentialism's Tom Shaw (second-half kick-off) was right, then. West Ham couldn't hold onto their lead, and will have to come again. So. Half a chance at either end. First Collins hooks a ball wide left from the edge of the area, then Redmond fizzes a shot towards the bottom left from 25 yards, but Jaaskelainen handles well.
Hooper, mindful of the pressure on him here, opts for power, and bangs the ball straight down the middle. Jaaskelainen would have been like a fat man catching a cannonball if he'd got in the way. That nearly takes the net off the goalframe! And Norwich are right back in this game!
53 min: PENALTY FOR NORWICH! All of a sudden, the home team have hope! A corner's won down the right by Snodgrass. He takes, but it's cleared. No matter! The ball's swung back into the area. Jaaskelainen comes to claim, but lets the ball dribble out of his arms towards Hooper, who is bundled over as he attempts to clip the loose ball goalwards!
52 min: Another needless free kick, Olsson clattering into Unidentified Hammer near the right-hand corner flag. Downing floats the set piece straight into the arms of Ruddy.
51 min: Fer attempts to diddle Noble in the centre of the park, but Noble's the one who runs off with the ball, tittering. Fer has been abject today, though of the Norwich side he's far from alone. Noble scoops a pass down the middle for Cole, who trundles towards the area. Turner hacks Cole to the ground, a pointless challenge as there were covering men. He's going in the book. The free kick comes to nothing.
48 min: Acres of space for Collison in the centre of the park. It's fair to say that Norwich aren't the equals of Arrigo Sacchi's Milan when it comes to aggressive pressing.
47 min: A fair bit of possession for Norwich during the opening couple of minutes of the half, but they're going nowhere. Hooper chases a long rake down the right, but can't get clear.
And we're off again! Norwich City - no half-time changes - get the ball rolling. But first, for the benefit of anyone who's arrived at this MBM by accident and hasn't the first clue about football, here's a primer that explains just how much fun we all have following our teams. "For a Hammers fan, this is a horrible scoreline," cries Tom Shaw. "Totally in charge and only a goal up, West Ham have a frustrating ability to not kill a game off and are only ever one mistake away from having all the good work undone and the roof cave in." You've been putting gin in your half-time Bovril, haven't you, Tom. If you haven't, perhaps you should put some gin in your half-time Bovril.
HALF-TIME REFRESHMENT: Print out and enjoy!
Anyone for Bovril?
Morrison gets his head to a right-wing cross, but is below it and can't generate enough power. Plus the fact Nolan has crept offside. And that's that for the opening 45. A fair scoreline, with the visitors totally in charge. Norwich really need to sort out their defence, with special attention to the flank patrolled by Martin, Turner and Snodgrass. They go off to loud boos.
44 min: Snodgrass has taken a smack in the grid, accidentally. He's down receiving treatment. There's a spot of blood coming out of his nose. He's off getting his shirt changed. He'll be back in time for the half-time whistle.
42 min: More space for Rat. Norwich, to channel Barry Davies at the 2002 World Cup, just will not learn. His cross is half dealt with, but Collison picks up the ball on the edge of the area and slides a pass down the right for Demel. The full back isn't on his front foot, though, and allows the ball to run out for a goal kick.
40 min: Mind you, it won't take much to change the mood. Redmond cuts in from the left and pushes Demel back, but as he reaches the edge of the area his shot, aimed for the top-right corner of the goal, reaches the top-right corner of the stand behind. Still, a positive run, and Norwich need to take anything on offer at the moment, little acorns and all that.
38 min: A minute's worth of possession for Norwich in the middle of the park. They shuttle the ball this way and that, but there's no opening to be found. Eventually Fer tries to sliderule a pass to release Hooper, but it's easily cut out. Norwich are short of ideas at the moment. They could do with the half-time whistle, if only to clear their heads.
35 min: You can still hear the West Ham fans, but the home support is fairly quiet now. Losing a goal can do that, though there will also be the realisation that things could already be much worse.
33 min: Pilkington has been replaced by Redmond.
Norwich do not sort it out. Rat is slipped in past Snodgrass down the left. Snodgrass doesn't bother making even a token gesture to scamper after the full back. Rat fires a low ball into the middle for Nolan, who can't poke past Ruddy. But in the resulting scramble he keeps hold of the ball on the byline, to the left of goal, then pulls it back into the centre, where Morrison can batter home from six yards. It was absolutely no surprise that the opening goal came from that flank.
30 min: After some neat ping-ping passing between Nolan and Cole in the centre, Nolan sprays a delightful pass out to the left flank. There's Rat again! And how many Norwich players are within 20 yards of him, do you think? That's right! Luckily for the home side, Rat hesitates while in possession for once, and nothing comes of the situation, but Norwich really need to sort this out.
28 min: Pilkington falls to ground as he battles for a ball with Demel. That's something and nothing. He springs up like Denis Law and engages the referee in philosophical debate. It looks like he's very lucky to escape a booking for yakking his neck. A bit of frustration leakage, one might suggest, on account of Norwich having done next to nothing up front since the early exchanges.
26 min: A bit of space for Rat down the left. He sends a lovely curling ball towards Nolan on the edge of the area. Nolan attempts to guide a first-time sidefoot into the bottom right. It's on target, but there's not enough pace and Ruddy can gather. That would have been a very pretty goal.
24 min: Collison, out on the right, sprays a diagonal pass towards the busy and impressive Rat on the left. The rampaging left back springs the Norwich offside trap, such as it is, and is in acres, but the pass is a wee bit strong, and he can only extend his leg to slice the ball into the stand just before it whistles into some poor punter's coupon anyway. Norwich's defence is an awful mess.
22 min: Joe Cole is already breathing heavily through his mouth.
20 min: It's been a lively enough start. The first lull, then, as West Ham stroke it around at the back for a wee while.
18 min: This is better from Norwich. A long ball headed down by Elmander for Hooper, who feeds Snodgrass on the right, then receives a return down the same wing. His low cross is whipped into the six-yard area, but Collins is on hand to clank out for corner at the near post. The set piece comes to naught, but once again West Ham don't look totally secure at the back, which is kind of strange given their record so far this season.
16 min: Fer is having a shocker. He's already given the ball away three times in dangerous positions. Now he's pounced on as he dithers around in the midfield, waiting for the bus. He needs to snap into focus, and quick.
13 min: Norwich are all over the shop. And should be behind. First Morrison sends Nolan clear in the area down the left channel. Nolan opens his body and looks to sidefoot into the right-hand corner, but Ruddy parries brilliantly. The ball's eventually bundled out for a corner on the left. From which Demel clatters a header off the crossbar. All of a sudden, this is looking ominous for the home side, who are playing with zero confidence.
11 min: Downing blooters the free kick straight into the wall, a witless nonsense. Bennett cleans out Nolan inside the area, but West Ham have been caught offside, several men at fault, and Norwich escape.
10 min: Fer fannies around on the edge of his own area, opting to thread a pass out of the danger area through a thicket of men. Nope! Rat snaffles possession down the left channel and one-twos with Nolan. Nolan's flick into the area is too strong, but no matter, he's been clattered late by Turner and that'll be a free kick to the left of the D.
8 min: Collison cuts in from the right and has a thrash at goal. His shot hits the inside of Olsson's thigh, perchance his tig, at close range. He's down on the floor, rolling around in the 'Distressed' style. He'll be OK, guesses resident Guardian quack Dr Murray, but play has to stop awhile as the poor lad catches his breath.
6 min: Hooper, in the centre of the park, flicks a ball out to the left for Elmander, who returns the thing immediately, wedging a pass down the centre of the pitch for his striking partner to chase. There's too much energy on the ball, Hooper's never getting that, but a promising move nonetheless. West Ham's defence - so parsimonious this season - has nearly been caught out twice already. That'll please Norwich, so desperate for a precious goal.
4 min: A blistering atmosphere. You can thank both sets of supporters for this. Rat hoicks a ball down the inside-left channel for Nolan, but the West Ham false whateverheis is caught offside, just to the left of the D.
2 min: Pilkington bombs down the inside left channel, a step ahead of Demel. He shoots from a tight angle, or is it a cross? Either way, it's smothered by Jaaskelainen. But that's a busy opening burst that'll give the home side succour.
With Remembrance Sunday looming, a minute's silence for the fallen. Immaculately observed. And then, with a peep of the referee's whistle, anticipatory bedlam. And with a second peep, we're off! Up and running!! It's on!!! West Ham kick off, and lose possession on six seconds. Norwich hand it back on 15. Plenty of time to get some combinations going.
The teams are out! A state of affairs which also includes them being about. The 1962 and 1985 League Cup winners are decked out in their famous canary yellow and canary-dipped-in-green-ink green, while the 1966 World Cup winners sport their trademark claret-and-blue. Brash and bright, these teams launch a sensory assault when paired together all right, but these are classic looks so who can possibly complain?
Norwich City, who drop captain Sebastien Bassong to the bench: Ruddy, Martin, Turner, Ryan Bennett, Olsson, Snodgrass, Howson, Fer, Pilkington, Elmander, Hooper.
Subs: Whittaker, Johnson, Bassong, Bunn, Hoolahan, Becchio, Redmond.
West Ham United bring Joe Cole back to the starting XI: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Tomkins, Rat, Collison, Noble, Downing, Morrison, Joe Cole, Nolan.
Subs: McCartney, Jarvis, Maiga, Adrian, O'Brien, Diame, Carlton Cole.
Roy Hay Jon Moss (W Yorkshire)
Not that it makes any difference, but this isn't one of English football's classic rivalries. Norwich City Football Club is 111 years old, while West Ham United has been a going concern for 113 years, or 118 if we throw in the Thames Ironworks era for free. And yet the teams have only met 48 times before, 42 times in the league. This fixture, then, has only been played 21 times. Not sure what point I'm trying to make here, actually.
Never mind! Carrow Road Hammerthon XXII could be a ... well, classic might be pushing it, seeing Norwich are the division's joint lowest goalscorers with six, while 15th-placed West Ham have only found the net eight times themselves. But the narrative possibilities for this one are pretty juicy. The Canaries are under severe pressure, coming off the back of a seven-goal humiliation at Manchester City. The Hammers aren't in the best nick either: they've failed to score in six of their last ten games, winning only once. Responses are required, especially in the case of Norwich, whose manager Chris Hughton looks mighty unsteady on his perch.
But there is hope! For both sides!!! West Ham might be throwing shapes straight out of the
Vicente del Bosque Craig Levein playbook, but their one recent win was a stunner: that 3-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur, a team with genuine title pretensions. And while they're not scoring, they're not letting many in: only eight conceded in ten. As for the hosts, well, four losses in the last five to a cumulative score of 2-18 doesn't exactly look good on the page, but in fairness those defeats have been at the hands of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City. And erstwhile Celtic goalgetter Gary Hooper, a player good enough to make an impression at Champions League level, has to start scoring soon.
Anyway, let's predict a result of 0-0, working on the principle that our predictions are rarely, if ever, correct. Today's prediction: 0-0.
Kick-off: 5.30pm on dying satellite concern Sky Sports (1992-2015).