Stat attack: Disorienting mixture leaves Canaries in need of consistency
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With a third of the Championship season already played out, DAVID FREEZER delves into the statistics to reflect on a campaign which has already been something of a roller-coaster ride for Norwich City.
It has been a disorienting campaign for Canaries supporters at times this season.
There have been some genuine highs and worrying lows, all of which have amounted to Daniel Farke’s side sitting 13th during the international break, slap bang in the middle of the table.
Is mid-table mediocrity befitting of the resources available to the German coach, or can the break rejuvenate a squad which has been hit hard by injuries?
While we await those answers, here is how Norwich compare with their Championship rivals in some of the key indicators so far this season...
Struggles in front of goal
Only three teams have scored fewer goals than the Canaries in the Championship so far this season – and they are all in the bottom four of the current standings.
Just 15 goals have been managed in 16 league games. Second-from-bottom Bolton have scored 13, minnows Burton only 10 to sit 21st in the table and struggling Birmingham a shocking eight.
Let’s not forget, Norwich had the joint best attacking record in the division last season, tied with Newcastle on Fulham with 85 goals.
That goal-scoring ability appears to have deserted the Canaries for the time being, managing to score more than one goal in just three games.
It’s been more frustrating for the home supporters as well, with six goals in eight Carrow Road games better than only Birmingham’s five in six at St Andrew’s across the division.
Accuracy has to improve
The Canaries are averaging 13.9 shots per game, only four teams – Brentford, QPR, Cardiff and Bristol City – have a higher average in the division so far.
However, City are averaging just 3.8 shots on target per game, ranking them 16th in the Championship. Having scored 15 goals in 16 games, that has become an obvious problem.
In total it is 223 shots unleashed by Norwich players this season and 60 of them have been on target, to average a goal every 14.9 efforts on goal.
Only two teams have been more profligate, Bolton on 22 shots a goal and Birmingham on 19.4.
Ipswich are the most ruthless though, averaging a goal every 6.2 shots, ahead of Hull (7.2) and leaders Wolves (7.3).
The search for defensive strength
It’s been a dramatic struggle to try and keep the back door closed for Farke’s team so far.
Their defensive record of 20 conceded in 16 games is middling by Championship standards.
Cardiff and Middlesbrough are tied on 13 as the best and tied on 31 as the worst are Burton and Sunderland.
Fans will need little reminding that 12 of City’s goals were conceded in the first five games though. Losing 4-2 at Aston Villa and 4-0 at Millwall was the first time a Norwich team had conceded four in successive games in over 18 years.
However, a dramatic swing in the other direction arrived after the international break as the Canaries went a club-record five consecutive games without conceding.
Clearly they couldn’t continue at that rate for the rest of the season but conceding two goals in each of the last three games has proved costly, with three defeats pulling City back into mid-table.
Is possession the root of all evil?
Farke has made it clear that he wants his team to be able to control games, which of course makes sense. Just four teams better City’s average of 53.8pc possession and only Fulham (82.8pc) have a higher pass success percentage than Norwich’s 81.3pc.
However, in all of the Canaries’ losses so far this season, they have had the higher percentage of possession. The 4-0 defeat at Millwall? City had 72pc of possession. The 3-1 loss to Sunderland at Carrow Road? The hosts had 71pc.
Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Bolton (67pc) and the home defeats to Wolves (53pc) and Derby (58pc) which preceded it, as well as the 4-2 loss at Villa (62pc) prove that possession isn’t everything.
Even more bizarrely, in every win this season, City have finished up as having less of the ball.
They won 1-0 at Sheffield United with just (32pc) and the narrow wins at Middlesbrough (40pc), Reading (46pc) and Ipswich (47pc) which all continued that pattern.
Even the home games have been similar – the early 2-0 success against QPR (46pc) and the 1-0 win over Birmingham in early September (42pc) – showing how important clinical finishing is.
• Stats from whoscored.com
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