And it was all yellow

The thumping victory on Sunday was the one that all Norwich fans have been waiting for. It was the most convincing that the team has played this season, and the first time in a league encounter that they have managed 4 against Ipswich. Not only this but talisman captain, Grant Holt scored his first ever league hat-trick, and led the Ipswich back-line on a merry dance. It was the weakest Ipswich team that I have ever witnessed at Carrow Road, and I was disappointed that a team with Roy Keane at the helm would lack fire and passion.

Before the game, I highlighted that the match would be lost and won in midfield, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Ipswich midfield were unafraid of snapping in with full-blooded challenges, but they were unable to retain possession for large stretches of the game. Ipswich captain David Norris is not a man who’s commitment can be questioned, but his obvious frustration was summed up by a dreadful lunge on the excellent Henri Lansbury. Norris’ partner in the midfield, Grant Leadbitter, did very little other than shoot harmlessly from distance, and the two were over-run by Norwich’s central pairing of Andrew Crofts and David Fox. Crofts and Fox were fantastic as they ran from box to box, blocking shots and getting in dangerous attacking positions. In one such attack it was a shame that Crofts couldn’t get enough power behind the ball when he was presented with a chance in the first half. Debutant, Lansbury however must be singled out for praise. He took a while to find his rhythm, and to stamp his authority on the game, but his pass for the second goal was reminiscent of ¬†Fabregas at his best. Paul Lambert, had the cheek to compare him to Lionel Messi, perhaps a distorted reflection, but it was a pass truly worthy of winning any game, and a great way to announce your arrival. Lansbury is not blessed with blistering pace or especially quick feet, but he manages to find an extra yard to work with, has great spacial awareness and an eye for a pass. He has a very bright future ahead of him, and it is a shame that will not be at Carrow Road.

Norwich showed the chinks in their armour, and were of course undone by a simple set piece for the Ipswich goal. The vast majority of goals conceded recently have come from corners, and it is something that needs to be improved upon if the team are to be competing for the play offs come the spring. Despite the strength in attack, Norwich looked fragile at points in the first half, and allowed too much time and space on the ball, especially for 5 to 10 minutes after they had conceded. After the interval the players seemed much more confident, and had a lot less to do, as they faced a very demoralised and limited 10 man Town.

I mentioned that a hero would come to prominence, and cometh the hour, cometh the man. Grant Holt has played well this season, but due to an injury plagued pre-season, has looked off the pace at times this autumn. He has returned to his flying form of last season, and is finally proving that he can cut it in The Championship. His hat-trick brought him to 9 for the season, and a very respectable 39 in 65 games for the club. He was a constant thorn in Ipswich’s side, and their defenders looked intimidated and scared by him whenever he thundered towards them. He finished with aplomb and guile on 3 separate occasions, and could have possibly ended the match with 5. On a couple of occasions he pressured Ipswich defenders into costly mistakes, with the first resulting in the opening goal, and the second a sending off for Damien Delaney. As I watched the game on I-Player the day after, I was struck by how often the commentary team mentioned Holt’s lack of pace. It is true that he isn’t as mobile as Craig Bellamy or Theo Walcott, but he does have a decent turn of pace, and it is a struggle for his opponent to knock him off the ball. His ability to hustle and harry, and his physicality may well be he most well known attributes, but as his deft chip against Brighton last season proves, he does have finesse in his locker.

This well earned victory has not only presented Norwich with the bragging rights until the return fixture in April, but given the team a chance to build on this result, and push on for the rest of the season. Norwich are only 4 points worse off this season than they were at this point during their title winning season in 2003/04, and although I must emphasise that they will not be promoted automatically, there is a great chance of them finishing in the top 6. Ipswich however, looked devoid of ideas throughout the contest, and trudged off the field in a subdued manner. I am interested to see where they go from here, and although they were victorious against West Brom’s second string in the Carling Cup last night, I don’t see them putting this humiliating derby defeat behind them, and I believe that they will remain in the bottom half of the table for the rest of the season if Roy Keane remains at the helm. His tactics were suspect on Sunday, especially after they were down to 10 men. His strangest decision was to take off the right back Zuiverloon, moving Carlos Edwards from winger to full back. Edwards had been the most promising attacking player for Town in the second half, and was caught out defensively for the 3rd and 4th Norwich goals. Ipswich had nothing to lose after going down to 10 men, and Keane should have been more positive and stuck with two upfront, rather than sitting back and hoping to sneak an equaliser from another set piece.

The name of Norwich City Football Club has been redeemed once more, and on a day when the result was all that mattered, the performance on live national television proved that they are back with a bang and that there’s no question where the East Anglian bragging rights are going this season.