Three more wins should seal Premier League return for Canaries
How many points do Norwich City need to seal promotion? David Freezer tries to answer the big question being asked by Canaries supporters ahead of home games against QPR and Reading
It’s something of a luxury that Norwich City fans can turn their attentions to final points tallies with seven games to go.
Daniel Farke’s team have been so successful this season that at a crunch stage of the campaign, the pressure of the promotion race has been eased to an extent.
Winning 1-0 at Middlesbrough on Saturday moved the Canaries to a superb position of five points clear of second-placed Leeds and – perhaps more crucially – seven clear of third-placed Sheffield United, who slipped to a 3-2 home defeat to Bristol City.
While avoiding complacency will of course be crucial to sealing the deal, on the pitch and in the stands, the situation allows an unexpected degree of comfort at the business end of the season.
That’s due to successive home matches against two struggling teams, QPR on Saturday and Reading next Wednesday. While that offers a tantalising opportunity for the in-form leaders, it also places potential banana skins on the path to the Premier League, with both opponents battling against relegation.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United face two away games, at play-off chasing Preston on Tuesday and plummeting Birmingham on Wednesday – with Leeds, strangely, having the same away games but in reverse order.
With it being highly likely that both could drop points, Norwich head into their Carrow Road double-header knowing two victories would leave them on the verge of glory, with five games to spare.
That of course would take Farke’s impressive team to nine wins on the spin and, if they can pull off that feat, they’d be sitting pretty on 87 points with five games to wrap up promotion.
In the past 10 seasons the average required to finish second in the division has been 88 points, with Brighton going up as runners-up on 93 points in 2017 but Hull promoted with just 79 in 2013.
Norwich have already passed that surprisingly low total, with 81 points from 39 games, so another three wins looks likely to be enough to guarantee finishing at least second.
The average to finish as champions in the past decade has been 93 points, with 102 managed by Leicester in 2014 and Newcastle in 2010, but 87 enough for Cardiff to lift the trophy in 2013.
Four wins would take City to that magic number of 93 and with Leeds already five points adrift, it looks quite likely that would be sufficient to become champions – a sentence few Canaries pundits could have imagined they’d be writing back in August.
While unexpected results are the Championship’s trademark and being wary of upsets is always important, the tantalising chance can only add further desire to a situation where Farke’s players are already being hailed as heroes.
Their swashbuckling success means victory over QPR on Saturday will mathematically seal a play-off place, although it’s clear a finish in the top four is already secure, particularly with play-off rivals Derby and Bristol City still to play each other.
With so much faith in Farke’s methods and belief in the ability of the City squad, the whole Canaries community can come together for one last push for the promised land – with a remarkable 5,000 fans making the trip to struggling Wigan to keep driving their team on next weekend as well.
Beyond that is a home game with play-off chasing Sheffield Wednesday on Good Friday, a trip to meandering Stoke on Easter Monday and a Carrow Road clash with another mid-table team in Blackburn, before a trip to play-off contenders Aston Villa on the final day.
With Villa in such fine form, that’s a day City fans will be desperately hoping is one of celebration rather than nerves.
Three wins from the six opportunities before then should be enough to ensure that’s the case.
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS TOTALS
Champions: Wolves – 99
Promoted: Cardiff – 90
Champions: Newcastle – 94
Promoted: Brighton – 93
Champions: Burnley – 93
Promoted: Middlesbrough – 89
Champions: Bournemouth – 90
Promoted: Watford – 89
Champions: Leicester – 102
Promoted: Burnley – 93
Champions: Cardiff – 87
Promoted: Hull – 79
Champions: Reading – 89
Promoted: Southampton – 88
Champions: QPR – 88
Promoted: Norwich – 84
Champions: Newcastle – 102
Promoted: West Brom – 91
Champions: Wolves – 90
Promoted: Birmingham – 83
AVERAGE (LAST 10 YEARS)