Let’s March to safety in key fixtures for Norwich City
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
We are entering the last ten games of what’s been a gruelling season for Norwich City.
The Canaries sit eight points clear of the relegation zone after last weekend’s results. Even though the lads took a beating up at Old Trafford it wasn’t the disaster it could have been with the majority of other results going for Chris Hughton’s men.
With the likes of Wigan, Reading, Aston Villa, and Southampton – tomorrow’s visitors to Carrow Road – all losing, it meant that all those clubs failed to make up any ground on Norwich City.
I know that QPR won only their third game of the season at St Mary’s, but to get to the 40 points mark they need six wins and one draw, and I just can’t see that happening.
This month is going to be vital in the club’s bid to stay in the Premier League. It couldn’t have started much harder with the trip to Manchester. There are not too many teams that come away from Old Trafford with any points. The lads failed to muster any type of effort on goal, but if you look at the timing of United’s goals the lads were in the game right until the 76th minute.
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It would have been a body blow for s to concede a goal right on the stroke of half-time. It always is. They stayed within that goal of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, but three goals in the last 14 minutes made the scoreline look far worse than the performance actually was in reality.
At the end of the day, losing to the league leaders isn’t going to determine whether City will be in a dogfight to stay in the division come the final two to three games of the season. However, I think the remaining three fixtures this month could well decide if it’s going to be a relegation battle to the death or not.
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With a home game coming up against Southampton, followed by Sunderland and Wigan away, Norwich face three games they must not lose. If the lads can win two of them, which would put the club on the 38-point mark, it would virtually guarantee top-flight football next season.
Tomorrow won’t be easy, though. Southampton have scored more away goals than any other side in the bottom half of the league. In fact, only Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool have scored more on their travels this season, so they are a major threat going forward.
However, they have conceded more goals away from home than another club in the Premier League, which will leave Holty and company licking their lips at the prospect of facing the Saints’ leaky defence.
• GIGGS TRULY A GRAND PERFORMER
Congratulations to my former Welsh team-mate Ryan Giggs on the remarkable achievement of reaching 1,000 career games.
Everybody expected Ryan to reach that fantastic landmark last weekend against Norwich, but he was rested for the Champions League game against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
To still be playing at the ripe old age of 39 at the level he is shows the true professional he’s been since making his debut back in the 1990-91 season.
I’ve been very lucky to have played with Ryan on a few occasions and it was a privilege to have shared the same pitch as him. He was such a down to earth lad. In fact, he was quite shy and very quiet.
To be fair, he’s always let his football do his talking. He took a fair bit of flak when he decided to retire from international football back in 2007, which I think was a bit unfair.
His reasoning for retiring was to prolong his time at Manchester United, and six years down the line he’s still wearing the red shirt with the same pride that he did 23 years ago.
In over 20 years of playing, I amassed a total of 768 career appearances for clubs and country. I’m very proud of the amount of games I played but to get anywhere near the amount Giggsy has I would have had to have played until I was the ripe old age of 42 or 43!
• GERMANY IS THE LEAGUE TO BEAT
So, for the first time since 1996, it is highly likely that the Premier League won’t have a club representing it in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
With Manchester City and Chelsea being knocked out in the group stages, it was left to Manchester United and Arsenal to fly the flag. Real Madrid knocked United out on Tuesday and Arsenal need a minor miracle to go through against the favourites, Bayern Munich, so the question must be asked: is the Premier League the best league in the world, or has it been surpassed by La Liga and the Bundesliga?
I think you will find it very difficult to beat the German league these days, with Borussia Dortmund and Munich both flying through to the quarters, and Schalke – who are sixth domestically – in a strong position to go through having drawn their first leg 1-1 away to Galatasaray.
The Premier League is undoubtedly one of the most exciting leagues in the world, but I don’t think it’s the strongest in terms of quality, as it has been regarded in the recent past.
Clubs across Europe seem to have caught up and overtaken English clubs. The Premier League is the most lucrative in terms of money, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect its quality.