Time is on Norwich City’s side for Saturday’s Premier League showdown

Please can we play on Saturdays at 3pm? If you want a good sign that City will get back to winning ways this weekend, then hopefully I can help.

Yes, Wolves are bottom with the worst defensive record in the league and got stuffed 5-0 on Sunday and have only won one in their last 17 matches (and that was at QPR which doesn’t say a lot).

However, I believe I have even more reason to feel confident than looking at the current failings of Terry Connor’s men.

And the cause for my optimism? Well, it’s the 3pm kick-off time on a Saturday.

When a match starts makes no difference is the line we are always fed by managers.


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Well, after hearing that Norwich hadn’t won a Premier League match on a Sunday in 15 attempts, I thought I would do a little research on how we do with various kick-offs.

And I came up with some pretty startling evidence of how the Canaries seem to be so much better suited to the good old fashioned start time.

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City have played 16 of the 29 matches on a Saturday at 3pm this season and have won half of them.

Pretty good I’d say – and especially when you consider that the four defeats in those games have been at Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

If you averaged out the points we get at that kick-off time we would be sitting in fifth place before Chelsea played last night – and one point ahead of the West Londoners.

On the other hand, at all the various other kick-off times we have had this season (from 12.45pm on a Saturday to 8pm on a Wednesday), there has only been one victory – that triumph over Sunderland way back last autumn.

Of the 12 other games, five have been drawn and seven lost.

Do the average out the points bit over the campaign, and City would find themselves with a mere 17 points and well adrift at the foot of the table.

So is there really anything in this or is it just a coincidence? Does the team prepare itself differently for a lunchtime or later start and does it impact on the players?

I have no insight into the inner workings at Colney and Carrow Road but I’d be fascinated to know.

Surely the diet must alter if there is a 12.45pm start than an evening one – but should that affect the performance on the pitch?

Please let me know if you have any more scientific, psychological or other evidence.

What do you think as fans? I’m quite traditional and like leaving Dereham at 1.45pm and having my Cornish Pastie in the car park at Archant Towers as I catch up on the team news and then walk down to the ground.

Alter the time and it throws us. Do you have a late lunch or a brunch or a late tea......? Such dilemmas.

Let’s hope the old trusty time sees us through on Saturday.

And looking at the rest of the campaign we have four of each type of kick off time – so maths would dictate we will end the season on about 48 points.

I’d take that.

• CONTRASTING FORTUNES

• City’s Saturday at 3pm record

Played: 16

Won: Eight

Drawn: Four

Lost: Four

Average points per game: 1.75

• Position in league if averaged out over season: Fifth

Other kick-off times Played: 13

Won: One

Drawn: Five

Lost: Seven

Average Points Per Game: 0.6

Position in league if averaged out over season: Bottom (five points adrift)

• MY FRONTRUNNERS IN PLAYER OF THE SEASON VOTING

As soon as the number of games in the season drops to single figures and when the clocks spring forward, you know it is time to start thinking about the player of the season.

And so the voting is underway to see who will lift the prestigious Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for 2011/12 and the polls don’t close until noon on Monday, May 7.

With eight games between now and then and with the visits of Man City and Liverpool to Carrow Road and trips to Tottenham and Arsenal among those fixtures, there is plenty of time for new heroes to emerge.

However, I thought it would be useful to have some early thoughts and outline the front runners.

I did a Twitter and Facebok poll to seek some views and here goes with the current favourites.

JOHN RUDDY: Clear favourite with the fans I have spoken to and has been Mr Consistent in the top flight and proved any doubters firmly wrong. He has been between the sticks in 28 of the 29 league games and I’m struggling to think of too many errors – but there are so many great saves which stick in the mind. He should be in contention for England’s Euro 2012 squad.

GRANT HOLT: Ruddy is not the only one who has stuck it to those who didn’t think he would cut the Colman’s at football’s top table. Ten goals in the Premier League makes him joint second top English striker and is another Canary tipped for an international call-up. He has scored against Liverpool, Man United and Chelsea and he is firmly a legend with the fans for his never-say-die attitude.

ANTHONY PILKINGTON: Seven goals in his debut season is a decent return for the winger who has featured in all but four games.

ZAK WHITBREAD: Had it not been for his injury problems, the centre half would have been more of a contender and has become a favourite at the back with many supporters.

DAVID FOX: So often the unsung hero who works tirelessly in the midfield and has been instrumental in many games.

• Hero of the week: Fabrice Muamba is no normal footballer. He couldn’t speak any English when he arrived in this country as a refugee but achieved incredible exam results at school and is the most qualified player at Bolton. He is also apparently a lovely bloke and I think that is why there has been such an outpouring of support for him and that’s why he’s my hero of the week. Get well soon Fabrice.

• Villain of the week: I don’t like making footballers villains for playing well but I make an exception this week as I award my boo boy gong to Tim Krul. His excellence prevented us from getting that draw which would have meant another vital point and a morale-boosting result at St James’ Park (and yes, a villain’s award also needs to be given to the person who keeps re-naming football grounds). You won’t see many better saves than the one from Zak’s header. Boo.

• Highlight of the week: Two weeks ago I accused football of going mad in many ways and I stick to that argument. But it has been very warming this week to see how the game across the world has pulled together in the light of Fabrice Muamba collapsing. A certain manager once said “football is not a matter of life and death – it is more important than that.” But fortunately players, managers and fans have got things in perspective this week.

• Funniest moment of the week: Okay I should let things go after Neil Warnock left QPR but I still like to have a laugh at his expense when things don’t go quite to plan. And it is pretty amusing that the first time Leeds have ever let in seven goals at home was on his watch. Another year out of the top flight looms for the “mighty” Leeds and their ever popular boss. Hee hee.

• Prediction of the week: My good mate Brett – who is one of the River End top deck crew – will miss the game on Saturday due to work so to console him, I said he could do the prediction. So it’s City to beat Wolves 2-1 with an Andrew Surman winner.

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