With City cut adrift at the foot of the Premier League table, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about survival.
So, with that in mind, I thought I would have a look into City’s chances of doing just that.
It is, of course, far from impossible. With 16 games left to play, there are still 48 points up for grabs. Which begs the question, how many points do Norwich need?
Well, that depends on how you work it out.
If you take an average over the past five seasons then 35 points will typically see you safe, however, both Newcastle (2015-16) and Hull (2014-15) have been relegated with 37 and 35 points, respectively. Yet, in the last three seasons, 35 points have been enough to avoid the drop. It appears the general trend is downward, with teams requiring slightly fewer points to survive in recent seasons.
Norwich have so far amassed 14 points – six points adrift of 19th and eight points from safety – the situation is bleak and the table makes grim reading, so it’s understandable that many City fans feel relegation back to the Championship is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
At this point, it’s worth reiterating that 48 points are still to play for, and with that in mind, the next step is to look at where Norwich can pick up points.
An obvious starting point would be the game against Bournemouth at Carrow Road this coming weekend. The Cherries are in dire form, picking up four points from the last 11 games, failing to score in their last three. The South Coast club are probably the only team whose form is comparable to the Canaries.
When you consider the situation both teams find themselves in, this really is a must-win game. The Bournemouth game does feel like a line in the sand for City, after being so close to getting all three points throughout the Christmas period, followed by a disappointing collapse at Old Trafford, it now feels as though any remaining optimism will be lost if they fail to collect all three points this weekend.
A mid-week trip to the shiny new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium follows and having been robbed of a win against Spurs at Carrow Road less than a month ago, you would imagine the players will head into this one with a point to prove.
A trip to Newcastle’s St. James’ Park follows an FA Cup 4th round tie at Turf Moor. August feels a long time ago, but while the Premier League season was still in its infancy City emphatically beat the Toon 3-1 at Carrow Road. Yes, Newcastle have improved dramatically since that day and find themselves in mid-table, but if we are to stay in this division, we should be looking to take points from this game.
Liverpool (h), Wolves (a), Leicester (h) and Sheffield United (a) follow, and you would be hard-pressed to find a City fan expecting a return from any of these games. It is without doubt a difficult period, yet with the situation the club finds itself in, they are going to have to take something from these games, or at least some of them.
We have reached the point where City are going have to cause upsets in order to stay up, however, we have seen in games against Manchester City, Leicester, Arsenal and Spurs that the Canaries can pick up points in these games and, arguably, look a better side against the bigger teams.
Once the tougher fixtures are out of the way, Norwich have a run of games against Southampton (h), Everton (h), Watford (a) and West Ham (h). City have of course beaten Everton at Goodison and although the Toffees have improved under Ancelotti, with the situation Norwich find themselves in, these four games become must-wins if they are to get out of the relegation zone.
This also means we will have to break the hoodoo and start beating the teams around us, with neither Watford and West Ham not out of danger at the time of writing.
The final three games are a mixed bag; Chelsea (a), Burnley (h) and Manchester City (a). It’s fair to say Burnley is a must-win, especially after a relatively poor performance at Turf Moor back in September.
City made a real game of it against Chelsea in just their third Premier League game, eventually falling to a 3-2 defeat, a game I remember coming away from with plenty of optimism. Going to Stamford Bridge in May is a different proposition but – as previously stated – Norwich are going to have to cause upsets to stay up.
The final day of the season sees us travel to the Etihad, a fixture Jonny Howson will remember fondly after a superb solo goal on the final day of the 2012-13 season. Getting a result against Man City is a monumental ask, but we said that back in September and I don’t need to remind you of the result that day. I imagine we will cherish that scoreline for some time.
In short, we are propping up the bar in the last chance saloon. Truth be told, it’s probably time to head home.
If results don’t pick up imminently, Norwich City will be relegated. City are going to have to start beating teams around them and continue securing respectable results against the bigger teams, They will also probably have to find a way to start winning from a losing position, something they have so far failed to do.
It’s a big ask, there is no doubt about that, but I’m choosing to remain optimistic ahead of the Bournemouth game. If we can get back to winning ways against the Cherries, we could see a resurgence, but we are getting very close to miracle territory.