Norwich City 0 West Ham 0
It’s off to the Faltering Fullback in Stroud Green to watch the game with Matt and Lisa and various Gooners preparing for a visit to the Library. It's the side that beat Fulham but with Cole in for Carroll. Lisa and Matt suggest that Sam won't play Tomkins because he doesn't want to ruin his handsome looks, preferring the uglier centre back who must not be named.
We miss the first two minutes because of the Aussie rugby, but the TV is switched over as Surman curls the ball just wide of Jussi. West Ham create a couple of decent chances. Vaz Te forces a Ruddy good save with a cross short from the right, Cole ‘s header is cleared off the line and the ball breaks to Matt Taylor who shoots wide when well placed. O’Brien makes a good break down the left and his determined run sees Nolan connect with his cross only to be thwarted by Ruddy again.
Norwich come back into it, with Surman curling wide again and then the Canaries force Jaaskelainen into a triple save as the ball ricochets crazily around the West Ham box. The defensive spirit is good though, as several defenders rush in to block the Canaries’ efforts. Just before half time Collins brings down Surman with an Voldemort-like lunge and it looks a certain penalty. Luckily ref Chris Foy gives it on the edge of the box and the replay proves him right. “That was good refereeing,” says Matt for the first time in his life. At half time we watch a slimline Dean Ashton discussing the game and order more Seafarers bitter and a strawberry cider for the lady.
Norwich have the best of the second half with Jaaskelainen producing a brilliant one handed save from Jackson’s scorcher. The jet-lagged Winston Reid has a fine game, but the midfield performance is worrying. Vaz Te and Demel fluff numerous crosses and many of the long punts upfield are aimless. Diame is powerful but often tries to beat one man too many. When we do get corners and free kicks Noble’s delivery is poor. Big Sam brings on Jarvis for Taylor and Maiga for Cole. The ten million pound man has one decent curling cross with no one on the end of it, but doesn’t really get into the game apart from having a shot blacked on the edge of the box. The one player who might bring some passing ability to midfield, Yossi Benayoun, isn’t used until the 86th minute.
The Gooners fans leave it late to enter the Library as they trek off with armfuls of hardbacks. Norwich nearly nick it at the end. It’s three versus two as City break and Kane shoots at Jussi when he should probably score. Faltering fullback Demel is outpaced by Harry Kane who crosses for Snodgrass, only for his effort to be blocked. In the third minute of added time, ex-Millwall striker Morison heads straight at Jussi. Phew. A gritty away point and crisps all round.
Apart from Collins’ lunge we’ve defended soundly, though Demel still looks suspect at right back. The lack of creativity and passing ability is worrying in midfield, but we have quality to come in with Jarvis and Benayoun. The performance of Jussi is encouraging and it’s three clean sheets in four matches. It’s not a great advert for the Premier League, and you can see why England struggle when no-one can pass consistently well, but seven points from four games is certainly a decent start.