Calm before the storm as Norwich aim to bite back against Arsenal

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesDespite heavy defeats, there are positives to be found for Chris Hughton.

The most impressive thing from spending time in the company of Chris Hughton, Elliott Bennett and Russell Martin this week was not what they said. Rather how they said it.

All three are amongst the most eloquent members of Norwich City's first team staff. You know you can fire tough questions at this particular trio without fear of having to duck for cover. And there have been plenty of those bouncing around these parts after an international break that provided merciful relief from the firing range of shipping five at home to a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool and four against Chelsea's collection of midfield matadors.

Martin and a handful of his team mates departed for international climes on World Cup duty, but Bennett and the rump of Hughton's squad have had a fortnight to stew on a mix-and-match start to the new Premier League campaign. Some good, like the home draws to QPR and West Ham, some excellent, like the merited point at Tottenham and some truly woeful outings that ended with brutal hammerings. Things hardly get any easier with Arsenal in town this weekend. Robin van Persie may have departed for Manchester but Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski appear to have needed little time to acclimatise to the peculiarities of the English game.

Steve Bould's appearance at Arsene Wenger's side following Pat Rice's departure from the dugout may at first glance appear less eye-catching, but this graduate of old school Arsenal has clearly had an influence on the Gunners' previously suspect rearguard.

Wenger's sides have always royally entertained, but no silverware since 2005 underlines they have fallen short where it mattered most at critical junctures. Be in no doubt this Arsenal vintage will pose just as many potential problems at Carrow Road on Saturday evening as Liverpool or Chelsea did before them.

But there is no sense of shellshock within the inner ranks amongst Hughton's squad. The manager himself remarked on how good the spirit is in the face of such heavy recent reverses, no top flight win this season and a goal difference that should only be viewed from behind the sofa with the permission of a consenting adult. All those worrying traits have failed to dent collective confidence.

Bennett summed it up best when it was put to him at the club's pre-match press briefing no-one gives Norwich an earthly this weekend against their illustrious visitors from north London. Let the doubters write us off was the gist: “The more people go against this team, the better we seem to be. We will come out fighting - like a dog, you back us into a corner, we will always bite our way out of it.”

It was fighting talk. But it was also a revealing glimpse into the psyche of Norwich's dressing room. In truth, they had largely been written off before a ball was kicked this season. Few gave them much chance of surviving, let alone replicating a 12th placed finish in the wake of Paul Lambert's summer exit - the chief architect behind their meteoric rise from the depths of League One.

But that is just how these players like it. To a man they have come up the hard way to reach the Premier League - they are used to disappointments and knock backs and they possess courage and resilience in abundance. Only Robin van Persie's routine brilliance denied them a famous win at the Emirates towards the end of last season when a topsy turvy game ended 3-3. Tottenham loanee Kyle Naughton is the one player to have left the club from the men who started that breathless match. The odds are prohibitive on a repeat this weekend. But only a fool would write off this Norwich City squad.

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