Norwich stop the rot in Carrow Road stalemate

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Fabricio Coloccini v NorwichPA PhotosFabricio Coloccini, whose Newcastle future has been the subject of conjecture, fights for the ball against Norwich

Given the respective Premier League form lines this was an entirely predictable deadlock at Carrow Road.

Norwich had lost the last four. Newcastle arrived in Norfolk having lost nine of their past 11. The chemistry produced an attritional brand of football, the game was condensed into the mid third of the field, populated by too many defensive midfielders and deep-lying frontmen. Wes Hoolahan routinely had to forage for the ball on the half-way line, when he needed to be terrorising the Magpies on the edge of their own penalty area.

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Russell Martin came closest in the second period with a dipping volley that grazed the outside of Tim Krul's left-hand upright from 25 yards. The Dutchman also bravely raced from his line to smother from Anthony Pilkington, but it was a slim body of attacking work. Papiss Cisse tested Mark Bunn from range prior to the interval but the Senegalese was too often an isolated figure against Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner.

Alan Pardew will have taken heart from the second-half arrival of fit-again midfield talisman Yohan Cabaye, but even the talented Frenchman was unable to leave much of an impression on an instantly forgettable stalemate.

Norwich were also boosted from the bench with the return of Grant Holt after a festive spell hampered by a hamstring injury. But the longer term benefits of Cabaye and Holt's presence were scant consolations for another day.

The Canaries' faithful who trooped away from Carrow Road will justifiably feel the onus was on City to press for a decisive outcome, but Hughton by nature is a cautious individual. Holt and Elliott Bennett were both introduced for the final quarter in a game where the dye had been cast in the opening period. Vurnon Anita and James Perch ranged alongside Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey was a toxic midfield mix, smothering any signs of creativity when the likes of Hoolahan or Sylvain Marveaux attempted to break the impasse.

Both in the goalless final scoreline and the nature of the muscular arm wrestle, Norwich's afternoon bore a canny resemblance to their trip to Reading before Christmas. Hughton had to defend his decision not to make changes until the game was in its dying embers in Berkshire. Here, the charge carried much less significance.

Perspective is not always the easiest trait to adopt with the game fresh in the memory, but that previous point at the Madejski came in the early stages of a club-record unbeaten Premier League run for the Canaries that also brought tangible reward against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton.

If this latest home draw against a Newcastle outfit equally struggling for fluency is the start of another assured spell in the Premier League, then few connected to the Canaries' cause are likely to complain.

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