Thursday, January 26, 2012
I love a stat – it’s something of a guilty pleasure. And not only in the ‘handed a sheet of paper with every Premier League fact you’d ever like to know’ way – which, for the record, is great.
• Judging by Saturday, Ipswich Town’s back line liked the idea of my proposed ‘Gary Neville’s footy freaks and gaffs’ DVD, almost certainly destined for Christmas. Three defensive howlers and a sending off worthy of such highly anticipated titles.
• Staying down south, we’ll have to see if Michael Owen is the man to save Town’s season. I doubt the striker’s reported friendships with Paul Jewell and Marcus Evans – or Town’s budget – will stretch to the point of him signing, mind.
• While it may be harsh, and it does mean wanting success for Cardiff and West Ham, it feels a little better looking at the top of the Championship these days. Double promotions are rare for a reason – a rule I still hope the Saints prove.
• Jonny Howson has been on my midfield list for more than a year, so it’s great he has joined City. I hear he may be ready for a return next month – but whenever it actually happens, it’s clear City are getting a player that can really kick them on.
No, I don’t mind rifling through the records trying to work out if a random feeling for something is backed by numbers, falls down or simply says nothing at all.
On Saturday City finally shook off the one statistic that was genuinely becoming tiresome – that lack of a clean sheet.
The fact it came against Chelsea almost said how meaningless the stat was, even though it backed up a few defensive worries from supporters and pundits alike.
But has defensive fortitude ever been key to Paul Lambert’s two and a half years of success at Carrow Road? Those late come-backs and never say die victories – more than a few came with City already being behind, as the description suggests. City have played exciting, open football through most of that time – mixing it up more than ever this season; goals scored, rather than conceded, was almost always the talking point.
Saturday was City’s first goalless draw at Carrow Road since Walsall visited for Lambert’s second league game in charge – September 5, 2009.
And as the little table at the bottom of all this includes, the Canaries’ Championship success came with a formidable record for goals rather than against.
Colchester at home, Manchester City away – they are all in there.
But regardless of the numbers and patterns, there is no doubt Saturday’s result came by way of an excellent defensive performance.
And that tells me the Canaries are making big steps forward at the back – more so than a nil.
• The Canaries’ case for the defence…
• League One 2009-10
Conceded 47 goals from 46 games Goals conceded per game – 1.022 (ranked third out of 24 teams)
Best: Leeds/Millwall – 44 from 46 – 0.957
Worst: Stockport – 95 from 46 – 2.065
(City top scorers in the division with 89)
• Championship 2010-11
Conceded 58 from 46 – 1.261 (ranked eighth out of 24)
Best: QPR 32 from 46 – 0.696
Worst: Scunthorpe 87 from 46 – 1.891
(City top scorers in the division with 83)
• Premier League 2011-12 (from 22 games)
Conceded 36 (15th out of 20) – 1.636
Best: Man City 18 from 22 – 0.818
And the worst…
Bolton – 47 from 22 – 2.136
Wigan – 45 from 22 – 2.045
Blackburn – 45 from 22 – 2.045
Wolves – 40 from 22 – 1.818
QPR – 37 from 22 – 1.682
(Only Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Blackburn can currently top the Canaries’ 32-goal tally this season)