Yobo Proves Crucial At Norwich
The January switch of Nigeria captain, Joseph Yobo, from Turkish giants, Fenerbahce to Barclays Premier League club, Norwich City, may have raised a few eyebrows but the deal is proving to be a fantastic bargain for the Canaries and the defender.
Since his arrival at Carrow Road last month, Yobo has made his presence felt in the heart of Norwich City's defence after featuring in three league matches.
At 33, Yobo has shown that he has not lost his zip despite being left out in the cold at Turkish Super League side, Fenerbahce, this season leading up to his sealing a timely switch to Norwich City in a Fifa World Cup.
The Nigerian centre-back has started all three league games against Manchester City, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur since joining on loan.
They kept two clean sheets in those games and lost just once.
Yobo has seamlessly slotted into the centre half alongside Sebastien Bassong and their reign together in the heart of the Canaries defence has seen them churn out impressive defensive stats against the Premier League big boys.
Against Manchester City, the Canaries backline ensured that only two shots from the Citizens' total of 15 were on target in their 0-0 draw at Carrow Road on February 8.
On Sunday, Tottenham attempted nine shots in total and were limited to just two shots on target as Yobo and his Norwich teammates put up another artful display in defence to stun Spurs one-nil.
Former England midfielder, Jamie Redknapp, believes Norwich signing Yobo on loan in the winter transfer window "was a great.
" Redknapp also expressed surprise that Yobo with loads of Premier League experience "became a bit of a forgotten man.
" "There was a lot of big business done in the transfer window but one of the deals that went a bit under the radar was Joseph Yobo moving on loan to Norwich.
"It was a great deal, particular when you look at the big money spent elsewhere on players.
Yobo was fantastic at Everton and he already looks like he's striking up a good relationship with Sebastien Bassong.
"When he moved to Fenerbahce he became a bit of a forgotten man but he's a top player with plenty of Premier League experience.
"He has helped keep clean sheets against Man City and Tottenham now and it's those kind of performances and results that could be the difference between Norwich staying up or going down.
"Chris Hughton has been under huge pressure recently, especially when the club released a list of his potential replacements.
Let's hope results like this stop them going to press again," Redknapp wrote in his column in the Daily Mail edition of Monday.
Already Yobo's impressive start to his career at Norwich City against Manchester City earlier this month has earned him a recall to the Nigerian men's national team after a one-year spell out of the Super Eagles.
He is one of the 23 players called up for an international friendly against Mexico on March 5.
The centre half now knows he will be battling on two fronts - saving Norwich City from the drop and eyeing a place in Nigeria's contingent to the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
'I spoke to the national team manager and we both know what I need to do.
I have to perform here (at Norwich City) and I can get my place back in the national team.
I have been in it for so long and captaining my country was special for me.
'To go to the World Cup would be special but I am here now and my priority is Norwich City," said Yobo recently.
Norwich City currently occupy 14th position on the Premier League table and are four points above the drop zone.
The Canaries next five league games are against Aston Villa (away), Stoke City (home), Southampton (away), Sunderland (home) and Swansea (away) - all except the tie against Southampton being dogfights and huge tests for Yobo and his teammates.
Based on current form, Yobo also looks ahead of Nigeria's preferred centre-back partnership of Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo but the buck of that matter stops at the doorstep of the manager of the African champions, Stephen Keshi, as he hopes to better his country's performance at the last two World Cup editions in 2010 and 2002 when they failed to reach the last 16.