The thin green line that Norwich City must hit if this season is to end in survival
- Credit: Archant
There’s a good chance some of you have come across The Footballers’ Football Show on Sky. It’s something I listen to as a podcast when I get a chance, and usually works into the conversations between me and my esteemed colleague/travelling companion Paddy Davitt on our trips away from Carrow Road.
At the moment, I’m stuck halfway through the final episode of last year.
It’s primary subject was the explosion in football statistics and how they’re being used to analyse games, build teams and recruit players.
And one of the three guests on the show? West Ham boss Sam Allardyce.
Listening to Big Sam talk about his side’s need to keep clean sheets in order to guarantee Premier League survival – along with a few more rules from the Book of Allardyce – was good listening up until Tuesday night. But it’s lost its appeal since.
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The fearful mood that has enveloped Norwich City’s predicament since midweek has been a dark one. As demoralising as similar losses at Cardiff, yet with a deeper knowledge that City have made their bed – be it coaching staff, squad and approach – and now everyone has to lie in it, hoping the base doesn’t give way.
What Tuesday’s defeat at the Boleyn Ground – apparently we don’t call it Upton Park any more – has almost certainly done is brought relegation from the Premier League into its sharpest focus since City were promoted three seasons ago.
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And there is proof of that too. Those of you on Twitter may have already come across my lovely chart. It tallies the Canaries’ accumulation of points this season, and compares it to the previous two – but in the sequence of this season’s fixtures. So therefore always Everton at home first, and ending with Arsenal at home. I have since added the chronological tallies for the previous two seasons as well, for a more detailed comparison – he said, trying to sound sophisticated. In other words, lines that show last season’s 10-game unbeaten run and the post-Christmas fall off a cliff.
The fact is this term, City are below all four lines – as well as my target 40-point line; although admittedly, it will be fewer than that to stay up come the end of this campaign.
The chart points to trends – ones that involve struggling to pick up points and consistently being behind their previous top-flight efforts.
And that adds to the perceptions – like struggling to score the goals to win matches, or simply keep those clean sheets that make the likes of Chris Hughton – as much as Allardyce – so happy.
I’m sure everyone’s mind has wandered this week – to relentless midweek games, trips to Millwall, Bournemouth and Brentford, a complete drying up of the statistical and global coverage that comes only with the Premier League.
Now, there is still room for hope – like the fact last season from the equivalent fixtures, Chris Hughton’s side pocketed 18 points. That included drawing with Spurs and beating Arsenal.
Simply match those efforts and City would be well clear with 43 on the board come May 12.
But if the form and results don’t change, my beloved Premier League fixture comparisons will have to be consigned to the bin.