Norwich City ensured that Canary fans will have a happy new year after picking up a crucial three points against rock-bottom Aston Villa.
The result marked City’s fourth game unbeaten at home, with a win against Swansea and draws against Arsenal and Everton completing the set. It also means since City’s poor run a few months ago, they’ve now lost three times in eight in a set of fixtures which has included matches against Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. The point I’m getting to is, I feel pretty good going into 2016.
After City’s 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road, I found myself a bit frustrated. We felt a side blighted by inconsistency. It was a game that, despite Watford’s impressive form, you’d look to get points from. At that point I felt the main thing was beating Villa and having a good window. Instead, we’ve picked up seven points from 12 and look as if we’re getting back to our best slowly but surely.
Norwich still need to have a good transfer window, that’s for certain. But after the last few games, I no longer feel these new faces would be arriving to be our saviours, instead they’re just coming in to make us stronger. In goal, Declan Rudd has been a revelation after displacing John Ruddy. I’m a big fan of Ruddy, he’s a good guy and a good keeper – who by his own admission has been short of his best form. However, Rudd is more than making the jersey his own at the moment. In defence, we finally seem to have found some sort of stability. Our back four looks a little more solid right now – Ryan Bennett’s run in the side is a big part of that. He’s been impressive and formed a promising partnership with Bassong. I’d still like some reinforcements at the back – we still need it. We’re light on numbers to start with and it’d remain the priority area for me, though I’ve been feeling a little more comfortable with them of late.
Midfield is still the area in our squad I’m most comfortable with. The return of Matt Jarvis, who became City’s first January signing a few days ago, will be a big boost. It’s an area we have a lot of different faces who bring a lot of different things to the pitch. Up front, however, is another area I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alex Neil tinker. Cameron Jerome is tireless, he works his socks off, his finishing may not be the strongest element of his game but he makes up for that with everything else. Dieumerci Mbokani meanwhile, I love watching the guy play football. He’s strong. His control is superb. I’ve never seen a player bring goalkicks out of the air with such ease. He’ll be a massive asset for us in the second half of the season.
Yet, after these two, it gets cloudy. Lewis Grabban appeared to be back in favour after a surprise reappearance against Arsenal where he scored, yet he’s disappeared from the bench now. Kyle Lafferty, despite being a favourite amongst some fans, doesn’t seem to get much of a sniff. We’ve been linked with strikers. I’d expect it to be Jerome, Mbokani plus one more to take us through until May.
City are getting their heads screwed on again. They’re halfway to 40 points, with half of their games gone. They’ve got options up and down the pitch. With three or four quality additions in January, I’ll be crossing my fingers it’ll be a smooth ride to May.