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Chris Hughton's words & Leroy Fer's improvement meant Norwich stunned West Ham.

Last Updated: 09/11/13 at 21:00

Leroy Fer: Improved in the second half and won more duels that West Ham key man

Leroy Fer: Improved in the second half and won more duels that West Ham key man

"Whichever way we go about it, it is a game we want to win. We have got home advantage today and we are on the back of a real, poor defeat last week. The only way to react is in a good way," Chris Hughton told Sky Sports before Saturday evening's game against West Ham United.

The under-pressure Norwich City boss will have then been twitching anxiously in his dugout at Carrow Road as he saw his side pulled to pieces and behind to Ravel Morrison's goal in the first half, following in the wake of last weekend's 7-0 humiliation at Manchester City and almost £25million worth of summer spending.

But, whatever Hughton said at half-time, there was a second-half turnaround - through Gary Hooper's penalty and Robert Snodgrass' brilliant free-kick, which seemingly came from nothing to help secure the points and perhaps even save the manager's job.

Injury-time third goalscorer Leroy Fer coming out on top of his second-half battle with Mark Noble in key areas was hugely influential in that process and will have left Sam Allardyce's West Ham, who have now been overtaken by Norwich in 15th and 16th place in the table, wondering how they lost after dominating the first half with another striker-less formation.

Selection

Gary Hooper: Started alongside Johan Elmander and scored the equaliser from the penalty spot

Hughton resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his faltering side, although captain Sebastien Bassong was dropped to the bench as one of three casualties of the humiliation against Manchester City, losing his place to Ryan Bennett. Snodgrass, back from concussion, and Johan Elmander were also brought in to the team. That meant Elmander and fellow summer signing strike partner, Hooper, started together for the first time.

West Ham boss Allardyce, who had seen his side concede just once in five Premier League away games before kick-off, made two changes after the 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa, with James Collins replacing the injured Winston Reid in defence and Joe Cole preferred to Matt Jarvis. The Hammers were again without a recognised striker in a 4-2-4 formation.

Story of the game

Allardyce had told Sky Sports in his pre-match interview: "If they [Norwich] are going to play with two [in central midfield] and we are going to play with four, then I expect the players to dominate that area and, realistically, the way that system works is exploiting the spaces in between midfield and the back four."

The West Ham boss' game-plan worked perfectly in the first half, with West Ham, despite being the away team, enjoying an early 53.6 per cent dominance of possession in just the first 15 minutes. Their flexible formation also provided the opportunity for players to rotate positions, spread wide and attack, which forced Norwich back.

West Ham dominated possession after 15 minutes and spread their players wide to stretch Norwich

This continued throughout the first half and, as a result of being outnumbered in central midfield, Norwich had to play in a very narrow formation. West Ham duly exploited this by pushing their full-backs into advanced areas, especially left-back Razvan Rat - who in the first half had 57 touches of the ball, 36 passes and created three chances.

It was this tactic which led to West Ham opening the scoring in the 32nd minute when Rat was again offered the freedom of Carrow Road before the Romanian's excellent low crossing was picked up by Kevin Nolan. Morrison was eventually able to finish from close range having run off Anthony Pilkington, who shortly after had to go off through injury.

Norwich were dominated in central midfield so had to go narrow (l), allowing Razvan Rat to attack (r)

West Ham were completely dominant in the first half, enjoying even better possession than that opening 15 minutes (58.5%), winning more duels (24) and attempting nine shots to their hosts' two. But it was the visitors' passing which was especially impressive as they played 275 to Norwich's 207 and had a completion rate of 84%.

A key to that had been Noble. The surprise in some quarters that the midfielder had not been included in the recent England squad provided an indication of the level of his performances of late and he has been rubbing shoulders with the likes of David Silva, Steven Gerrard and Mesut Ozil as the Premier League's most creative players. Indeed, he completely dominated opposite number Fer in the first half.

Ravel Morrison's opener demonstrated Rat's (bottom of picture) attacking threat to Norwich

But Hughton's half-time words produced a remarkable comeback from Norwich and silenced any critics who may have suggested he had lost the faith of his squad. When Norwich emerged for the second half, they appeared to show more application to the task in hand and Hooper's 54th minute penalty, which was importantly soon after half-time after he was clumsily brought down by Jussi Jaaskelainen, gave additional momentum before Snodgrass' superb 72nd minute set-piece.

Apart from playing 10 fewer passes than they had before half-time, Norwich improved every single one of their team statistics in the second half and they also spread their formation to stop West Ham's wide attacks. In the second half, Norwich won 57.7% of their duels in comparison with 39.5% before the break. Likewise, their passing accuracy (76.1% and 73.9%), overall possession (52.5% and 42.7%), crosses from open play (nine and three) and attempts at goal (12 and two) all went up after the break.

In the second half, Norwich spread wide to pose more of the threat (l) and Fer played key passes (r)

Fer, who - like Hooper - was among the summer signings to step up and be counted when their manager most required, getting to grips with Noble was vital. The Dutchman ended the game having played fewer overall passes and with a lower accuracy but he made his play count where it mattered. Fer finished the game with an 81.5% passing accuracy in the opposition half compared to Noble's 78.6% and won 12 duels to the West Ham man's nine before also completing the scoring.

Hughton's view

"We were certainly able to raise it in that second half and apart from the goals I thought we had some other very good chances. We have to build on this. We had a similar start last season where we had some tough games and didn't start so well, and we had a game here against Arsenal and from then onwards we were a better side. It was a bit of a spring forward and let us hope that's today."

Allardyce's view

"What disappoints me more is that the confidence we have gained from our away-performance results was there for all to see in the first half... We have only ourselves to blame. When we needed that all-important clean sheet today to get the three points, it has deserted us on our own failings rather than Norwich's good play."

Jamie Redknapp's view

"When a team gets beaten 7-0, the first thing you do is question whether the players are playing for the manager. If there were any doubts those players are playing for Chris Hughton then we saw today they absolutely were. They were very good in the second half. There was energy in the midfield and Leroy Fer started to dominate, close on West Ham's midfield and run the game. It was a very, very good second half - and exactly what Norwich needed."

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Readers' Comments

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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