Norwich City’s play-off credentials under examination
High-flying Norwich City have excelled in their opening Championship fixtures – but the next six weeks could really determine where their ambitions will lie this season.
With a third of the campaign almost complete, the Canaries have faced just four teams currently residing in the top half of the Championship beating one of them – a 2-0 win over Swansea in August.
In fact, 10 of City’s 14 games this season have come against teams currently below halfway in the second tier standings, earning the Canaries an impressive 19 points out of 30.
However, with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at new table-toppers Cardiff City leaving the Canaries fifth in the table, their schedule leading up to Christmas takes a notable turn for the trickier.
And that will almost certainly have a big say on whether Norwich fans can genuinely hope for a surprise shot at the Championship play-offs this season. Derby, Coventry and Reading – all currently in the play-off picture – host the Canaries over the next six weeks, while much anticipated Carrow Road clashes with last season’s League One promotion rivals Leeds United, in-form Portsmouth and the East Anglian derby with Ipswich Town are also on the horizon.
A Tuesday night trip to the capital to face Millwall is City’s remaining trip before Christmas – one of the few places the Canaries lost under Paul Lambert’s stewardship last term – while this weekend Norwich welcome Burnley to Carrow Road, who were relegated from the Premier League under Brian Laws in May.
The Turf Moor outfit sit two points behind Norwich but are one of only three teams in the division without an away win this season – a 4-1 thrashing of Hull towards the end of last season is the only league win to Burnley’s name since their play-off promotion to the top flight in 2009. But a 1-1 draw at Saturday morning leaders Queens Park Rangers at the weekend – making Burnley the first team to score at Loftus Road in the Championship – has given them added confidence on the road according to captain Graham Alexander.
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“We showed the spirit has come back again, as it has many times, but with the record QPR have got here it might be a good point in the end,” he said.
“We are desperate to get three points away from home though and we wanted that at QPR. We didn’t come here to get a draw and we will do that same at Norwich on Saturday.
“There is no apprehension in the ranks that we can’t win away from home, so we will go to Norwich at the weekend and look for it again by giving it our all.”