While sections of the Yellow Army are getting ‘twitchy’, the onus is on the teams below Norwich in relegation dogfightWed 13 Mar 13 by James Kent
I’m sure a lot of us left Carrow Road disappointed after Norwich City failed to do enough to secure all three points against Southampton. This was especially true after Grant Holt saw his injury time penalty saved.
There will be those that will say that Norwich should be beating the likes of Southampton at home, but those same arguments could have been said regarding other home games against Fulham and Newcastle. However, few fans would have complained about a point against Everton, that home win was certainly a pleasant surprise. Not to mention the wonderful results earlier in the season against Arsenal and Manchester United.
The point here is that it’s a long hard season with plenty of twists and turns from the first game to the 38th. Over the course of the season, there are some games that you expect to win and others you expect to lose. I think it’s fair to say that the Canaries have recorded points and wins that they wouldn’t have expected to before the season, and they have failed to get points and wins where they would have expected to.
The Canaries are placed 14th in the league table with 33 points from 29 games, which shows they have been getting the balance about right. The nine-point cushion ahead of the relegation zone is a very good situation for the club with games running out.
Of course, we are getting to the nervous stage in the season when teams know they have to hit form to spring clear of the relegation trap. A level of panicking that saw Southampton and Reading dispense of the men that elevated them to the Premier League. It remains to be seen if that gamble proves to be smart or stupid.
In a similar vein, QPR splashed the cash in January in a desperate attempt to survive in the league and two wins in their last two games shows that gamble may yet work. But we all know that club will have considerable problems if the outlay doesn’t result in survival. We are also well aware that this is the time in the season when Wigan start winning games traditionally.
However, it’s important to remember that teams near the bottom of the table will be playing each other and so picking points off each other. And although one or two of them might be able to pick up some form, it’s simply not realistic to expect them all to do that. A look at the current form table tells us that Newcastle and QPR are the ones that are showing a bit consistency at the moment.
But let’s not forget that Sunderland, Reading, Stoke, Wigan and Southampton all remain below Norwich in the form table. And I wouldn’t say any of them look particularly dangerous at the moment, but we will learn more after the forthcoming games against Sunderland, Wigan and Reading.
I know a number of Canary fans are apprehensive about the run-in, but I think we can afford to feel fairly relaxed. Yes, there is the matter of a less than convincing goal difference to consider, but it’s surely points on the board that’s the most important thing here. And for my money not that many more are required to secure that all-important survival tally.
But there is something about the mystical 40-point mark that means we can’t all completely relax until the target is reached. Doubt will always remain until we can say with certainly that Norwich can’t be relegated. But it’s important to maintain enough perspective to conclude that an excellent job has been done so far.
The Canaries are in an excellent position and it’s now just a case of finishing the job. Obviously, fans are going to get a bit twitchy about draws and everyone likes to see their team win every week. But it needs to be realized that the pressure is not really on Norwich.
We already have enough points to feel like we are nearly there; it’s the teams below that now have to resort to desperate measures to gain Premier League points. Take the game against Southampton, the away side created the more and looked the more dangerous. Some may argue that Chris Hughton likes a defensive stance and Southampton have an attacking style, but football is never as simple as that.
The reality is Southampton had to come to Carrow Road and do all they can to secure a win, the home side needed to just ensure they didn’t lose. Ironically though, that tactic nearly resulted in a priceless home win had Grant Holt managed to convert that penalty.
But this is how I see the remaining games of the season for Norwich, they have games to come against teams below them in the table, and it would be nice to think that they can secure a win or two from them. But what is really important here is that the door is not opened again, the onus will be on Norwich’s opponents to win the games.
This process continues in the very next game against Sunderland. Here is a team that felt they were well clear of the relegation picture, but a number of defeats has changed that scenario significantly. They will now feel that they need a home win to get things back on track, after all they have the worst form in the Premier League.
The job for Norwich City is simple a case of making sure they don’t lose first, then seeing if there is an opportunity to win it late on. I’m sure such a strategy for the rest of the season will see the Canaries home and dry with something to spare.
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