We caught up with top Canaries blog Holtamania ahead of Sunday's clash at the Stadium of Light to gather their thoughts and feelings on all things Norwich and Sunderland
When we last spoke Norwich were on a six game unbeaten run, things look a little different at present with a more "patchy" run of recent from. How do you assess how Norwich have done since the turn of the year?
Holtamania: It's really difficult to say. Form has been bad, but there's been one or two bright performances, such as against Everton, mixed with a lot of very drab, very uninspiring stuff. The ambition is clear - just don't get relegated. We seem to be achieving that one turgid result at a time. We're genuinely bad to watch at the moment, we create few chances and we seem to rely on set pieces. But we defend well, which is why we aren't in a struggle.
On loan Kei Kamara has caught the headlines of late with some important goals. Any chance of a deal being done for the Kansa City forward?
H: Possibly, but not guaranteed. He seems to have more of a role as an impact player right now, as his size, strength and speed really trouble defenders late on. He's got great hunger, a brilliant attitude and a lot of humility which means the fans are instantly in love with the guy. He's great to have around, but he'll need to show he's capable of deserving to start before the club decides to part with cash.
Speaking of forwards, while not quite managing the performances the fans will have come to expect, Grant Holt is still one hell of a handful right?
H: He is, when he wants to be. He's been good but not great for most of the season, but that isn't due to goals. He's playing a very different role this year, one that's more withdrawn and about holding up the ball a lot as a lone striker, rather than the gung ho system we had under Lambert. By and large, he's done ok - we look better with him in the side. But he also has these occasional dreadful performances where he complains about not being passed to, generally sulks, argues with the ref and plays like a tart. He did that last week against Southampton. When he's on his game, he's a beast. But whether it's age or defenders getting used to him, he's having less of those games.
Looking ahead to Sunday are there any weaknesses to the Norwich setup which Sunderland could look to take advantage of?
H: Probably the fullbacks. We defend very well, we have 9 clean sheets this season and in Turner and Bassong have centrebacks who have been playing out of their skin, Turner especially, after a poor start when he joined from you lot. But Garrido has been up and down at left back, and can sometimes be out of position, so they might look to attack him there. In front of the back 2 we also have a holding midfielder, Bradley Johnson - he gets through a lot of work and has been good this season, but if you run at him with speed, he can be easily got past.
Alternatively how will Norwich look to take the game to Sunderland?
H: This is assuming we take the game to Sunderland. As an away game, I imagine it'll be almost entirely set pieces and the odd counter attack. Snodgrass' freekicks are beautiful and Bassong has a few goals from set pieces this year. We also have height and aerial ability in Kei Kamara and Turner. Wes is the creative lynchpin so if we actually try to play football, which we can, it should go through him. But under Hughton, our away performances have been pretty insipid, preferring not to lose than trying to win, so I imagine we'll try to bleed the life out of the game and nick a point. This doesn't thrill me.
Any player in the Sunderland ranks that causes you concern?
H: Sessengnon and Fletcher. Both are quality, though obviously Fletcher needs the service. Sess is hugely talented with the ball and his ability to run at defenders worries me.
H: 0-0 or 1-1. We are on a mission to make games boring. Seriously do not understand why Sky have made this a TV game for the fourth time in two years. It'll be poor, we'll defend for large periods of the game, everyone will complain and then move on. This has been the story of recent weeks. I don't expect it to change. Sorry.