Melissa Rudd: The Canaries Class of 2019 can’t afford to be a soft touch away from home
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If you’d have told any Norwich fan their team would win three points from games against Manchester City and Burnley, the majority of us would have imagined an impressive win at Turf Moor.
As it turned out, the unlikeliest of victories over the champions of England was followed by the most predictable of losses at a ground where City have avoided defeat just five times in 20 visits since 1934.
It would feel particularly harsh to criticise the same XI who had produced the performance of their lives a week prior for a dismal display in Lancashire.
As one television pundit and ex-player correctly predicted when explaining why he'd gone for a comfortable home win before kick-off, it was a case of 'after the Lord mayor's show' for Daniel Farke's heroes of September 14.
There was perhaps an air of inevitability about Saturday's trip, reinforced when Alex Tettey was forced off after just 13 minutes to add to the head coach's already significant injury woes.
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The ease at which Chris Wood found the net twice in the space of four minutes administered a sobering dose of reality after the euphoria of the previous fixture.
Yet what is far more crucial in the context of the season is that City halt a run of three straight away defeats at Crystal Palace on Saturday, before a pattern develops and a potential rut on the road sets in.
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It may sound a touch dramatic given this weekend is only the fourth opportunity to pick up points on their travels this season, but supporters will be all too aware that City's atrocious Premier League away record in previous campaigns has been a major factor in why the team were relegated.
In the two most recent top flight campaigns in 2015/16 and 2013/14, Norwich won five games out of 38 away from home, and took just 20 points from a possible 114 across both seasons.
MORE: City striker rejects sweets claimsWithout wanting to compare those squads to the class of 2019, who have already proved they are among the most exciting group of players in the club's history, the fact remains that City simply must do better on their travels this time round.
Two of the next three away fixtures are against sides you'd expect to be fighting for survival in Palace and Brighton, and Selhurst Park on Saturday presents a perfect opportunity to start to reverse those top flight away day fortunes.
Palace won just five games there last season, and only relegated Huddersfield earned fewer points at home. In 2019, Roy Hodgson's side have won four of 12 home league fixtures, and two of those came against Huddersfield and Fulham who were both relegated.
On average Palace scored just one goal per game at Selhurst Park last season, and have failed to score in two of their four fixtures there already this season, which included a Carabao Cup defeat to League Two Colchester.
With that in mind Wilfried Zaha and Co. should be made to work hard to find the back of the net on Saturday and frustrate the home crowd.
Norwich sometimes have an exasperating habit of gifting the opposition goals - Wood's unopposed front post header from three yards out at the weekend springs to mind. Doing so against a team who often struggle to get on the scoresheet would be a particular travesty.
City's own record in south London is dire. Visiting Canaries haven't witnessed a win since the final day of the 1996 Division One Season - and even that was thanks to an own goal. Luckily, 23 years on this team has proved time and again that it doesn't care for such records - Saturday is their golden chance to banish this unwanted one.