With 19 points from 19 Premier League games this season, the maths is fairly easy.
If Norwich repeat their form of the first half of the season over the course of the second half of the season, they will finish with 38 points.
And if that simple logic is applied to every other team in the league then they will finish the season in 14th. Four places above the relegation zone.
Of course logic and the English Premier League rarely have much in common and there are any number of variables that you could add to the mix – injuries and who does what in the transfer window being just two. Sticking with your manager – or not – is clearly a third.
West Ham, it appears, have no fit centre-halves and barely have a striker to their name. Their clash with Fulham on New Years Day could be as instructive as Norwich’s to Crystal Palace.
Every game is now going to be a cup final. If they weren’t already.
But the point is worth making.
On those bald – and all-too crude – statistics, the bottom half of the English Premier League is getting poorer and poorer year-on-year. Certainly points-wise and, arguably, performance-wise.
Standards are slipping. At both ends of the park.
And that is true of all those teams – from Aston Villa downwards, few can score with anything like the required regularity and even less can defend to any real standard.
Not when faced with teams from the top third of the table.
There are obviously exceptions. This weekend and the two Manchester clubs only managed to win their games by a lone goal.
Two games in three days might account, in part, for that.
And there are still odd results that defy explanation. Where common sense would usually dictate otherwise. Sunderland’s win at Everton being one.
But given the individual brilliance of some in this league and the increasing mediocrity – by direct comparison – of the rest, one conclusion is becoming ever more apparent.
The strong are getting stronger; the weak that much weaker.
That the imbalance that exists in terms of financial muscle – be it in terms of stadium capacity, Champions League cash or owners’ pockets – is ripping away at the last shred of competitiveness between the haves and the have-nots.
In every sense bar the name, they are in a different league.
There are few owners who would be moved to sanction a £200,000 a week pay packet for a player who tears everyone from Spurs down apart.
But it is that level of resource that Norwich and Co are matched against.
It’s been muttered before – how every other club in that group would like a Gary Hooper of their own – but, with the best will in the world, how many clubs in the top eight would have Norwich’s top scorer on their transfer radar next month?
They fish in a different pond.
More importantly they also fish in a different pond from an increasingly young age. And because success – or a ticket to the Champions League – generally assures a manager of his seat at the head of the table the next season, then the turnover tends to be less.
Chelsea are an exception; ditto Manchester City. But the very best managers, coupled to their limitless player spending, can hit the ground running.
Trying to gauge trends will never be an exact science – see above for plentiful exceptions to the manager turnover ‘rule’, but it strikes me that in points totals alone this season is proving as poor as it gets. And that’s across the board.
There is no helpless case. No Swindon or Blackpool. No team lost without trace from the middle of October.
Which is why I would worry – not that the Premier League chiefs will. Not whilst they have a big, fat BT cheque book making the gulf ever wider; new rights deals that will fatten the rich again over the course of the next few seasons.
No doubt the calls for Chris Hughton’s head will grow again should events go awry at Palace on New Year’s Day.
Maybe the temptation will grow at board level. Maybe.
But I think there’s a competitive sickness at the heart of this division that is beyond any one man’s ability to cure. The travails of Paul Lambert at Villa Park would attest to that.
I’m not saying do nothing; short term pick-me-ups could see Norwich scramble over the line with 39 points to their name. Job done for another season.
Safe. Nose still in that trough.
But look beyond scraping enough points in March to be back at The Etihad next season and, to my mind, there is something fundamentally wrong with the very fabric of the English game if eight teams can barely cobble together a point per game by the mid-point of any season.