Forget the top half, we’re at the summit
We are top of the league – say we are top of the league!
What, I hear you cry, is this columnist running on about? Has he marked the start of December by getting in to the Christmas spirit a bit early?
Well before you think I’ve lost the plot, I’ll clarify that I mean the Canaries are currently top of a mini league which I think is crucial to our survival.
I have done some maths this week and calculated how each of the teams who I think are our main rivals have done against each other.
My research is not completely scientific and is based on my assumption that the Premier League is split in two halves.
The top part consists of Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Villa, Newcastle, Everton and Stoke.
So that leaves the rest of us to scrap away to ensure we aren’t one of the three teams to head out of the trap door.
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I know that there are only three points for a win for whoever you play – but I’m more convinced than ever that it is the games against those around us that will determine our fate come May 13.
And therefore, it is so far so good. You’ll see from the table I’ve drawn up that City head the top 10 of the bottom 10 – and have a very impressive 14 points from seven games against our real rivals.
The only defeat was that loss at home to West Brom and Saturday’s triumph over Queens Park Rangers was the fourth time we have overcome one of the teams we really need to be better than.
And if I needed any more cheering up when I think about the Canaries’ success so far this term, this analysis gives it to me.
Fulham and Wolves are the only two of the sides we have yet to meet. The trip to Molineux is on December 20, while the visit of the West London outfit to Carrow Road on New Year’s Eve not only completes the first half of the season but starts a massive six weeks for City in which six of the seven games are against those in our mini league.
We really will have to clock up points during January – and none of us must lose sight of the fact that we end the campaign with six of the seven games against sides in the top 10.
Of course we have proved we can compete with the best and have not been disgraced at all this season. But while PL’s men have 14 points in seven games against the “little boys”, we have only got two points in six games against the bigger guys.
It would take a much braver man than me to really expect anything from the Etihad Stadium this weekend.
Various fans have said things like “I’d take a 3-0 loss” which is probably fairly realistic.
Newcastle head to town next week and their tails are really up, and then it’s off to Goodison and after the visit to Wolves, Spurs are the Christmas bank holiday visitors. Anything from those is a bonus – but the real battle is with our peers.
• NORWICH CITY’S MINI LEAGUE
The Premier League table – from games played by the bottom 10 clubs as of last weekend against each other:
Norwich P7 W4 D2 L1 GD+4 14pts
WBA P6 W3 D2 L1 GD+1 11pts
Wolves P6 W3 D1 L2 GD0 10pts
Fulham P6 W2 D3 L1 GD+8 9pts
Swansea P6 W2 D3 L1 GD+3 9pts
Wigan P8 W2 D3 L3 GD-3 9pts
Bolton P6 W2 D0 L4 GD0 6pts
Sunderland P6 W1 D3 L2 GD0 6pts
Blackburn P5 W0 D4 L1 GD-1 4pts
QPR P6 W1 D1 L4 GD-10 4pts
• Hero of the week: The whole footballing world has been left devastated by the tragic death of Gary Speed this week. Millions of people saw him on Football Focus on Saturday looking happy and content. Every fan – of whatever club – had massive respect for him as a player and manager. Too many footballers are branded heroes when they are not. But in footballing terms, Speed certainly was one.
• Villain of the week: My bad guy award is shared out by the fans who insist on ringing Canary Call and having a go at certain players and the management. Of course we pay our money and are entitled to our opinions – but remember how far we have come in two years and what PL and all the players have achieved. For some reason, John Ruddy and Steve Morison – who I think have both been superb – keep getting flak. And even PL keeps getting questioned.
• Highlight of the week: It has to be that moment at about 4.50pm on Saturday when the final whistle blew. As the minutes ticked by, I had been saying to myself that the game was increasingly a must win – especially with the matches we have coming up. So when the end came I gave one of my loudest cheers of the season so far.
• Funniest moment of the week: It’s a toss up between two moments. Firstly, hearing the news that Ipswich were 2-1 up going in to injury time and then lost 3-2 to Reading – and all on the anniversary weekend of the 4-1 thrashing at Carrow Road last year. And then ITFC’s 4-0 loss at mighty Burnley on Tuesday. I hear Paul Jewell was interviewed after the losses and asked: “So Paul, how far are you from a good team?” Jewell replied: “About 40 miles.” Hee, hee.
• Prediction of the week: Who would have guessed the City line-up for last weekend? I certainly wouldn’t have. So I think PL may have another surprise up his sleeve for this Saturday. I believe that either Zak Whitbread or Daniel Ayala – who both played for 90 minutes in midweek in the Norfolk Senior Cup – will come in. I also think that Wes will be back and we will revert to one up top. So my prediction for the team at Man City is Ruddy, Martin, Tierney, Whitbread, Naughton, Fox, Johnson, Hoolahan, Bennett, Pilkington, Morison.