Norwich City hopes and writing off Wigan
You can’t argue with international breaks for what they do give – a little bit of time for reflection.
That goes especially for the current break, where we see meaningless friendlies and only the odd slice of play-off excitement to grab attention.
In fact, given the Euro 2012 play-off draw is seeded, any shock will not only be a serious surprise but mess with Uefa’s grand plan.
Anyway, back to domestic issues – so where are we? Well, 11 games in is the answer – or 29 per cent of the season. Almost a third. And yes, it is racing away.
By this time, there is no doubt the Premier League table is taking shape – leaving only the odd team occupying the infamous false position. This time last season, Liverpool were 16th with three wins and 12 points – they went on to finish sixth with 58.
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After 11 games Bolton sat fifth on 15 points, before finishing 14th – maybe one for Newcastle United fans to consider, that.
What that table from 12 months ago should do – along with Saturday’s defeat at Aston Villa – is quell anyone in these parts getting carried away at City’s early season progress.
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With the top seven seemingly increasing their gap from the rest, anywhere from eighth downwards could reasonably be on offer for a top-flight team good enough to take advantage.
And at the bottom of that lot it is already promising to be as close as last season’s relegation free-for-all – maybe with the exception of Wigan.
It may be harsh to write off a side so early, but the Latics are two points worse off than West Ham after 11 games in 2010 and already look doomed – a statement less risky than Alan Hansen’s September assertion that both West Brom and Fulham will have no relegation worries this season.
Last season’s lowest scorers by some distance were relegated – Birmingham City. Stoke, Wigan and the Baggies are all yet to reach double figures this term.
Conceding the most doesn’t help either: West Ham last season; currently Bolton this.
So how about the Canaries?
First quarter performance was 13 points from 10 games – keep that rate of points accumulation and the Canaries will survive.
And that remains the key. Blackpool had 14 points from their first 11 fixtures last season; Burnley 15 the season before. Neither maintained those hauls enough to avoid the Championship reckoning come May.
Norwich’s home form is reasonable – eight points and one defeat from five: Stoke, West Brom, Sunderland, Swansea and Blackburn. Hardly big-hitters, admittedly. Away from home City have one win in six – but that includes trips to Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Villa. Four points came in the remaining two.
So taking it a quarter at a time, with Villa gone, 12 points – say three wins, three draws – from the next nine games is the idea. Have a look at the fixture list.
And then comes January – when the really hard work starts…