City chasing first Boxing Day top-flight win since 1987
- Credit: Archant
Boxing Day hasn’t been particularly enjoyable for Norwich City in the top flight, since a sequence of three consecutive wins on December 26 came to an end in the 1980s.
Ahead of the visit of Arsenal to Carrow Road tomorrow, we’ve taken a look back at how the Canaries have fared on the festive day of rest during recent decades.
Last season brought a 1-0 defeat away to Championship title rivals Watford behind closed doors, in a stodgy game providing limited entertainment for the TV audience watching the 5.30pm kick-off.
The club’s last Premier League season also featured a 1-0 defeat, at Aston Villa, with Conor Hourihane scoring the only goal. No, we don’t remember it either...
It felt like a victory at Carrow Road in 2018, as Onel Hernandez sparked injury-time chaos, but the winger was salvaging a 3-3 draw against Nottingham Forest.
After falling 3-0 behind in the 74th minute it looked like Daniel Farke’s Championship leaders would see an unbeaten run end at 11 matches.
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Mario Vrancic swiftly pulled back a deflected goal but Forest stood strong in the face of a home onslaught and it wasn’t until a cross from Hernandez evaded everyone in the fourth minute of added time that hope emerged.
It was in the eighth minute of added time that the Cuban sent the stadium wild, seizing on a Timm Klose dummy of a Ben Godfrey pass into the box and blasting over the keeper into the top-left corner.
Marco Stiepermann nearly decapitated the club photographer in his excitement, Farke was on the pitch celebrating wildly and there were Canaries players and staff strewn across the pitch after an act of escapology that Harry Houdini would have been proud of.
Boxing Day delight
We don’t have to go too far back for City’s last win on Boxing Day in the Championship though, to 2017 and a 2-0 success away to Birmingham City.
Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy scored goals in either half in a game that saw Jamal Lewis make his first start for Norwich and began a run of just one defeat in 12 league matches.
The last Carrow Road victory
The draw with Forest in 2018 was the only home Boxing Day encounter since a 6-1 thrashing of Millwall in 2014, with a 3-1 defeat at Reading in 2016 and a 3-0 loss at Tottenham in 2015 also in the mix.
After a disappointing run of just one win in 10 Championship matches under Neil Adams things were looking up.
Winning 1-0 at Wigan was followed by a 5-0 home triumph over Huddersfield and a 2-2 draw at Derby thanks to a late Steven Whittaker equaliser.
So when Millwall were dismantled by early goals from Whittaker and Cameron Jerome being added to by braces from Bradley Johnson and Gary Hooper, City were seventh and a point from the play-off places at the end of Boxing Day, as well as seven from second place.
However, a 2-1 loss at Reading two days later and a 2-0 FA Cup defeat away to lower-level Preston led to Adams resigning and Alex Neil was soon on his way in to inspire play-off joy.
Adams at least finished his managerial stint on a high at Carrow Road though.
Troubles in the top tier
It’s been a very different story in the top flight though, with City losing nine and drawing one of their last 10 Boxing Day games, conceding 16 and scoring just twice.
As well as the defeats at Villa and Spurs already mentioned, there were home defeats to Fulham (2-1) and Chelsea (1-0) under Chris Hughton and a 2-0 home loss to Tottenham in 2004 under Nigel Worthington.
It was the same result against Spurs under John Deehan in 1994 but a goalless draw with the north London side in 1992, in Mike Walker’s first season in charge.
Prior to the Premier League being established, it was three consecutive years of defeat in Manchester, at City (2-1) in 1991, United (3-0) in 1990 and City (1-0) in 1989.
It’s all the way back to 1987 and the early days of the Dave Stringer era for the Canaries’ last Boxing Day win in the top flight, when Robert Fleck and Dale Gordon were on target in a 2-1 win at Derby – making it a fourth consecutive year of victory on December 26.
What a difference a day makes
You may have noticed there are a few gaps in the above results, as City have played some games on December 27 over the years.
The last of those was under Paul Lambert in 2011 and a familiar result, losing 2-0 at home to Tottenham thanks to a Gareth Bale double.
In 1993 there was a victory on the day after Boxing Day, Spurs the opponents yet again, but this one being a 3-1 triumph at White Hart Lane.
Chris Sutton’s brace and a goal from Efan Ekoku kept City sixth in the Premier League just a couple of weeks after the Uefa Cup run had come to end - but less than a fortnight later, Walker had left to take over as manager at Everton.
There was also a top-flight win on December 27 in 1988, when West Ham were beaten 2-1 at Carrow Road by goals from Gordon and Andy Townsend, to reclaim top spot from Arsenal in Division One for Stringer’s side, who would eventually finish fourth.
A good omen?
Norwich have only faced Arsenal on Boxing Day at Carrow Road once before and that was a 1-0 win in the top tier in 1984, with John Deehan the only man on the scoresheet.
There has been one other meeting of the clubs on December 26 though, with City beaten 2-0 at Highbury during 1972-73, the club’s first in the top division after promotion under Ron Saunders.
Festive results in the top flight
2019: L 1-0 Aston Villa (A)
2015: L 3-0 Tottenham (A)
2013: L 2-1 Fulham (H)
2012: L 1-0 Chelsea (H)
*2011 (27th): L 2-0 Tottenham (H)*
2004: L 2-0 Tottenham (H)
1994: L 2-0 Tottenham (H)
*1993 (27th): W 3-1 Tottenham (A)*
1992: D 0-0 Tottenham (H)
1991: L 2-1 Man City (A)
1990: L 3-0 Man Utd (A)
1989: L 1-0 Man City (A)
*1988 (27th): W 2-1 West Ham (H)*
1987: W 2-1 Derby County (A)
1986: W 2-1 Nottm Forest (H)
1984: W 1-0 Arsenal (H)
1983: L 2-0 Stoke City (A)
(* marks games on December 27)