Melissa Rudd: Are Leicester proof that City can pull off a great escape?

PUBLISHED: 17:22 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 26 February 2020

Teemu Pukki celebrates his goal in the 1-1 draw at Leicester in December 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Teemu Pukki celebrates his goal in the 1-1 draw at Leicester in December Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

If talk of a great escape a few weeks back seemed fanciful, it feels futile after a defeat at Molineux where City’s spirit looked to have sapped away.

Jamie Vardy scored against City earlier in the season, but is currently going through a barren patch 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdJamie Vardy scored against City earlier in the season, but is currently going through a barren patch Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich's surrender in the Black Country felt like a nail in the coffin of any survival hopes, on a day where they were hardly competitive against opposition that barely needed to break sweat to score three times.

Norwich's seemingly impending relegation is now often talked about in the same way as Liverpool's procession to the Premier League title, a foregone conclusion.

The difference is that there is a monumental gap between the champions elect and second-placed Manchester City, whereas Daniel Farke's men are seven points from safety with 33 left to play for.

Yet this is a side who have managed to take only seven points from their last 11 games and are on course to record the club's lowest ever points tally in a Premier League season.

Staying up now would require a run of form that seems nigh on impossible based on recent results, combined with the fact that Norwich have scored just three times in seven league fixtures in 2020 and are yet to win a single point after conceding first.

As unlikely as it may seem, it's worth remembering that there are teams that have been in similar situations who clawed their way to safety from the jaws of relegation. You only have to look at Friday's opponents to see the finest example in recent times.

Forget Leicester City's title-winning exploits in 2015/16, merely surviving in the Premier League looked to require a minor miracle this time five years ago.

In fact, taking a close look at Leicester's 2014/15 campaign has revealed some details are not just similar to where Norwich find themselves before matchday 28, they are identical. After 27 games, the Foxes also had 18 points, having scored the same number of goals (24) and were also bottom of the table and seven points from safety.

Nigel Pearson's side had also won just four times, drawn six and lost 17. They had conceded fewer goals, but like Norwich, the majority of their defeats that season had been by a single goal.

Incredibly, they went on to win seven of their last nine matches, scoring 19 goals in the process, and conceding just seven. Leicester secured safety with a draw in the penultimate fixture of the season and ended up finishing 14th with 41 points.

Norwich's current predicament won't leave many fans thinking they are capable of pulling off such a daring escape, but 15 years ago I remember a similar air of resignation filling Carrow Road before Nigel Worthington's City won four of their last six matches to head into the final game with destiny in their own hands.

We all know how painfully that ended, but if you gave supporters the same scenario of being in with a chance of staying up when Norwich head to Manchester City on May 17, we'd be fools not to take it.

First though, the current crop need a result from somewhere on Friday evening to spark a flame that slowly seems to be extinguishing.

Unlike the reverse fixture in December when Leicester were aiming for a ninth straight league win, they've won only one of their last six, with top scorer Jamie Vardy in polar opposite form. He's scored just once in his last 12 appearances in all competitions. However out of form the frontman may be, though, he simply can't be afforded the same space he was given at the King Power Stadium when his unopposed header from a corner was deflected and parried into his own net by Tim Krul.

Sunday's loss against Wolves aside, Norwich's performances haven't resembled a side rock bottom going through the motions. Farke has done a very good job so far of rallying his troops, despite them being the basement side, and he now needs to make sure the manner of the Wolves defeat was a blip not a blueprint for how the rest of the season unfolds.

A home fixture against a team who were lucky to come away with a point when Norwich outplayed them on their own turf should be reason enough to believe a win is well within their grasp.

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