Canaries must guard against over-confidence to continue derby dominance over Town
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There's a surprising amount of confidence among Norwich City supporters ahead of Sunday's derby, considering Daniel Farke's side are tied on points with Ipswich.
City are enjoying some upward momentum and consistency, losing just one of their last eight league games and winning five of those thanks to some significantly improved performances.
The Tractor Boys seem to be feeling rather more dreary, having only won two of their last nine. However, they have also only been beaten by leaders Wolves in their last five games – leaving the best that Norfolk and Suffolk has to offer on 44 points in mid-table.
Yet on Christmas Day it looked very different, when the Canaries were 16th and eight points behind their nearest and not-so-dearest in the Championship table after a nosedive in form.
Having won 1-0 at Portman Road on October 22 thanks to a fine James Maddison strike, Farke’s team had moved up to the heady heights of sixth place. It capped an eight-match unbeaten run and all of a sudden it looked like City’s drastic revamp on and off the pitch was on its way to success.
That day Norwich were four points and five places above Town. Fast-forward a couple of months though and it was the Ipswich fans making ‘mind the gap’ jokes.
The higher ground is now tantalisingly within reach once again for City supporters, eager to again be able to enjoy the local bragging rights, and that makes me nervous.
Yes, Maddison & Co are on the up and look the more likely of the two teams to have a chance of chasing down a play-off place, and yes, Town haven’t won a derby since April 2009, but complacency can be so dangerous in the Championship.
It’s a division in which every point is hard-earned and so often sees organised and hard working teams upset the big boys either dropping back down from the Premier League, or trying to spend their way back there.
Ipswich were held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Burton at home on Saturday, minnows even by Championship standards. That would almost be funny for City, had the Brewers not held them to horrible 0-0 scraps at home and away as well.
Nine games unbeaten in derby clashes for Norwich is the longest streak without a defeat in the fixture for either side in its long history, as we head into the 90th league battle between the clubs.
That has inevitably created something of an inferiority complex for those south of the border, bolstered by 16 years in the same division while City have been promoted to the top flight three times.
Likewise, this has led to a superiority complex among the Carrow Road faithful when it comes to derby day – but records are there to be broken.
Mick McCarthy’s team have scored 12 more goals in the league this season and will no doubt be desperate for a first win of the Yorkshireman’s reign.
Complete just a seventh league double over the neighbours and City can shape up for a genuine play-off push. But if any complacency or over-confidence makes its way into the home dressing room, you can be sure the Championship gods will make sure the Norfolk boys fall flat on their face.