Football reporters say City will beat the drop

PUBLISHED: 10:47 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 10 September 2010

Michael Bailey

Norwich City will be safe - that is the message from the people who have been watching City's rivals come rain and shine during this season's Coca-Cola Championship battles.

Norwich City will be safe - that is the message from the people who have been watching City's rivals come rain and shine during this season's Coca-Cola Championship battles.

After gauging the feeling of the local football correspondents for each of this season's remaining relegation contenders, they gave a comprehensive indication City have enough to avoid a nightmare finale to their topsy-turvy season.

Although the number of points separating the Canaries from spending next season in League One is not great, there are still plenty of teams between City and the Championship drop zone.

And with several of the six teams below Norwich still to play each other during the remaining three weekends, Leicester and Blackpool are tipped to slip into English football's third tier once the summer arrives.

As Norwich gear up to face West Bromwich Albion at Carrow Road on Saturday, some of City's rivals have hugely important fixtures too. Coventry travel to already relegated Colchester while Leicester face a trip to Oakwell to take on FA Cup semi-finalists Barnsley. Should the Foxes or Sky Blues fail to pick up three points this weekend, they could struggle to win their remaining difficult games.

Blackpool, who have failed to win since beating the Canaries at Carrow Road eight games ago, have arguably the trickiest run-in and anything but a win against Sheffield Wednesday at Bloomfield Road this weekend could see them in serious trouble.

While all three of the Owls' remaining fixtures see them playing teams around them, and having drawn their last seven matches, they will be anxious to turn them into wins before the season ends.

So while City desperately hope to remove any lingering relegation jitters by putting a few more points between themselves and the relegation zone, a plan B of relying on other results may prove to be enough - post-season inquests excluded.

Norwich also remain rank outsiders for the drop with the bookmakers, with odds no shorter than 18/1 for the Canaries to be relegated.

With Scunthorpe's fate virtually sealed and Colchester already relegated, Leicester are favourites to join them in League One with odds at 7/4 to go down, with Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton following close behind. Blackpool are 6/1 to be relegated.

t Norwich City - current pos: 16th

Michael Bailey: Norwich Evening News

“It's not the number of points but the number of teams which will save City from relegation, but how long it takes them to put those fears to bed is the big question. In truth, City will only be serious contenders for League One if they fail to pick up a single point in their remaining games. With two of them at Carrow Road, where City's record under Roeder remains pretty good, they should be safe before they travel to Hillsborough.

“Sheffield Wednesday will probably need something from the game against City. Either way I expect them to stay clear of relegation. In my opinion it's between Leicester and Blackpool, both of whom have horrible-looking final day fixtures.”

Run in: Apr 19 - West Brom (h), Apr 26 - QPR (h), May 4 - Sheff Wed (a).

Final prediction

16 Norwich City

17 Sheffield Wed

18 Coventry

19 Southampton

20 Barnsley

21 Leicester

22 Blackpool (r)

t Barnsley - current pos: 17th

Andrew Lodge: Barnsley Chronicle

“There's a set of very tired players at Barnsley. It was very disappointing against Hull who were very strong in a game that probably came too quickly. If you'd have asked around after the FA Cup semi-final, you'd have struggled to find anyone who thought they would get away from trouble. But now I think they, and Norwich will be safe. You look at the remaining fixtures and the main contenders, the Leicester/Sheffield Wednesday game might decide who goes down.

“I'm quite surprised Norwich have been dragged back into it. At one stage, it looked like Roeder had turned them into outside play-off contenders.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Leicester (h), Apr 26 - Charlton (h), May 4 - Cardiff (a)

Final prediction

16 Norwich City

17 Barnsley

18 Southampton

19 Coventry

20 Sheffield Wed

21 Blackpool

22 Leicester (r)

t Blackpool: current pos: 18th

Steve Canavan: Blackpool Gazette

“I would go for Leicester to be relegated if I was a betting man. Norwich should be safe but they have got that little bit of work still to do.

“But I like the way Norwich play and they were very good at Bloomfield Road earlier in the season. Blackpool thought they were safe when they went 12th and beat Norwich at Carrow Road but since then they've gone eight games without a win. They haven't been playing badly but have drawn too many.

“Confidence has slipped a bit and it's all on Saturday's game. Teams like Norwich, Leicester and Southampton are all big clubs who didn't expect to be down there, whereas Blackpool expected to be here and are prepared to battle.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Sheff Wed (h), Apr 26 - Plymouth (a), May 4 - Watford (h).

Final prediction

16 Barnsley

17 Norwich

18 Blackpool

19 Coventry

20 Southampton

21 Sheffield Wed

22 Leicester (r)

t Southampton - current pos: 19th

Adam Leitch: Southern Daily Echo

“People are feeling more confident after the last couple of results. The Bristol City win came from nowhere and they are looking a lot more solid at the back.

“Although no one at the club would say it, with Burnley at home this weekend, a win will probably see them safe - which is just as well because when you get to the last game of the season anything can happen.

“It's in their own hands and as for Norwich I think, to be honest, they may already have enough points.

“They would have to lose all three games and then all the sides below them would need to go on a run of form that has eluded them so far this season.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Burnley (h), Apr 28 - West Brom (a), May 4 - Sheffield Utd (h).

Final prediction

16 Norwich

17 Barnsley

18 Southampton

19 Sheffield Wed

20 Coventry

21 Blackpool

22 Leicester (r)

t Sheffield Wednesday - current pos: 20th

Paul Thompson: Sheffield Star

“I have fancied Wednesday to just keep their heads above water all season. In fact, I thought they would be better off than they are now, so I can't change my mind.

“They're not scoring enough goals - have only lost one of their last 13 games, but only won three. The game on Saturday is vital, the one after that is huge, and as Brian Laws has said, it will go right down to the wire. Wednesday have had terrible luck with injuries all season and when that happens, you wonder 'are they jinxed'? But they're battling and the spirit is good and haven't got the jitters.

“Barnsley was my tip to go down but they've pulled themselves out with two great results after being knocked out of the cup.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Blackpool (a), Apr 26 - Leicester (a), May 4 - Norwich (h).

Final prediction

16 Norwich

17 Barnsley

18 Southampton

19 Coventry

20 Sheffield Wed

21 Leicester

22 Blackpool (r)

t Coventry - current pos: 21st

Andy Turner: Coventry Telegraph

“I think Norwich will be fine. QPR is the crucial one.

“Although West Brom can be a bit hit and miss, it's a tough one on Saturday. But when QPR came to Coventry in March, they were the worst side I have seen all season. I think Norwich will beat them and be safe by the time they face Sheffield Wednesday.

“If Coventry don't pick up a result on Saturday it will be panic stations. The Wolves game will be a real humdinger but the crucial one is against Colchester.

“The fans have no problem getting behind Chris Coleman. With the take-over now completed, they will have plenty of money to spend next season. The only question is in which division.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Colchester (a), Apr 26 - Wolves (h), May 4 -Charlton (a).

Final prediction

16 Norwich

17 Barnsley

18 Southampton

19 Coventry

20 Sheffield Wed

21 Blackpool

22 Leicester (r)

t Leicester - current pos: 22nd

Andy Mann: Leicester Mercury

“I think Norwich can probably count themselves out of it. Leicester aren't scoring enough goals, they seem to come in flurries.

“But if you can't beat Colchester at home, then you know you're in trouble. One fan ran on to the pitch during the game brandishing his season ticket - half the fans think he was a hero, the other half an expletive.

“But the fans are generally still behind them and will be until the final whistle at Stoke, but then the post-season inquests will begin. I think we'll pull out of it, but it's a hunch more than anything.

“They have spent a lot of money and there have been so many changes at the club this season and I'm sure there'll be more to come.”

Run-in: Apr 19 - Barnsley (a), Apr 26 - Sheff Wed (h), May 4 - Stoke (a).

Final prediction

16 Norwich

17 Barnsley

18 Southampton

19 Sheffield Wed

20 Leicester

21 Coventry

22 Blackpool (r)

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