The Thursday Preview: Norwich Vs Barnsley
It’s of course nonsensical to draw anything from a table after 4 short matches and punctuated by disruptive international breaks, but the occupancy of lofty NPowerthon berths by Cardiff City and QPR does seem telling. Slightly lower down, midtable is the usual jostle but two sides who can take heart from their beginnings meet at Carrow Road on Saturday. Barnsley changed their team wholesale in the Summer and will have loved their 2-0 win over much vaunted Boro; and Norwich, despite “big club” pretensions and a proud history, will see seventh as a position of promise a few months after promotion.
Our recent Monday Profile of Chris Martin recalled his troubled past, a feature of the man that has once again been evoked in the recent pages of the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury – but Grant Holt, perhaps never given a chance by Forest, has begun enthusiastically in a bid to lose his lower leagues reputation. A recent assessment by Canaries fan Matt Wallace on The Seventy Two was cautious and big enough to admit that the win over Swansea for one owed much to fortune, but Andrew Crofts, a low key signing from the South Coast, has been the catalyst thus far. Crofts bagged the equalizer in the excellent 1-1 draw at the City Ground and the opening night setback at the hands of fellow primrose shirted Watford now looks like a red herring. Centre back continues to be an issue and Leon Barnett, a serial failure at West Bromwich Albion, is unlikely to rectify that – but City have every chance of matching the pre-season expectations from bloggers Little Norwich.
As for the Tykes, that win over Middlesbrough came on the heels of a 3-3 thriller with Brizzle City and a defeat of the Palace, glossing over a worrying beginning that included a second successive thumping at QPR. Mark Robins practically defines the term “head screwed on”, so we find ourselves little surprised that he hasn’t panicked. Jason Shackell scored one of the goals last time out and he in particular will relish a return to the stadium where he made his name and enjoyed a brief Premier League sojourn.
In our seasonal preview, Seeing Red saw the forward line as deficient in the wake of Daniel Bogdanovic’s departure and little that has come to pass so far will have changed opinions at Oakwell, despite Andy Gray’s early brace at Ashton Gate. With all those new faces, it’s hard to assess Barnsley this early and the presence of unknowns such as Goran Lovre, Kieran Trippier and the gloriously named Jerónimo Morales Neumann will only disorient away fans further – that may aid the Reds and help them to be underestimated, but what happened to the Joneses, Briggses and Williamses of old? A narrow home win for me.