3 reasons why Norwich City could avoid relegation

We decided to stop wondering on when will the Premier League return to action and instead, we try to anticipate what’s in store for us in the last nine fixtures left to be played.

Today we talk about the team that sits at the bottom of the table – Norwich City – and their chances of survival in the top division.

Norwich Flag
photo credit: canaries.co.uk

Pundits say and betting agencies suggest that the Canaries need a miracle to stay up. Do they? I will give you at least three reasons why Daniel Farke’s side can remain in the top flight at the end of the season, no matter when that might come this summer.

1. Norwich have been consistently underachieving in the second part of the season

On paper, the results are poor. However, on the pitch things looked a bit different. Norwich often creates more goalscoring opportunities than their opponents, they just don’t manage to transform them. Another thing to compound is the fragility of their defence, giving away chances too easily.

Interesting fact: Norwich lost only two games out of the last 20 played across all competitions by more than a one-goal margin, which tells us that their games are closely contested.

Now, by what we’ve seen on the pitch, luck hasn’t been a friend of the Canaries so far either. Just look at some of the away games against Aston Villa or Newcastle, where they created more chances, having an expected goals ratio of 1.5 – 0.6 and 2.1 – 1.0.

Norwich Manager
Disappointment after a defeat at Villa Park (1-0)
photo credit: premierleague.com

The point is, there is room for improvement in terms of results or points per match ratio. Although the team’s efforts in play were not rewarded accordingly up until now, failing to meet the 28.8 points calculated based on the chances created, this could well change for the remainder of the season.

2. Math – let’s talk numbers

Norwich is now six points adrift from safety, with 27 points still in play. The 28.8 expected points would have taken them up to the 16th position, two places above the relegation line.

It may be difficult for them to reach the 40 points threshold, but also, that might not be needed. With other five teams involved in such a tight relegation battle, many points will be shared between the sides.

In five of the last six seasons, the team finishing in the 17th place only needed 36 points or less to stay up. For instance, in 2017/18 the three relegating clubs gathered 33, 33 and 31 points. The same number of teams is battling for survival this year, so why wouldn’t Norwich hope for a similar outcome?

Math Norwich
Final standings of the 2017/2018 Premier League season
photo credit: flashscore.com

For example, Watford had a terrible start of the season. After Nigel Pearson was installed, the team’s attitude shifted and they took more points from the next five matches than they did from the previous 16.

Of course, a managerial change is not the case for Norwich, but in a weird way, the break caused by this pandemic could turn into something positive for them: they now have the time to improve mentally and plan their way out of the bottom three.

Just another statistic running in the Canaries favour: none of the last five winners of the Championship relegated back since their climbing to the top flight!

Norwich- Championships
All of the previous promotion winners are still playing in Premier League
photo credit: flashscore.com

3. Four ‘winnable’ matches at Carrow Road + possible surprises along the way

The last 9 fixtures look neither bad nor good for Norwich. The good thing is they will face teams like Southampton, Brighton, West Ham and Burnley on home soil. Now, given that those games will probably be played behind closed doors slightly diminishes the home advantage, but still, Farke’s lads will be more confident here.

Carrow Road is where Norwich defeated the reigning champions Manchester City (3-2) and Leicester (1-0), another top-three team in the league. Also, Spurs and Arsenal were only lucky enough to get one point here. They both found themselves falling behind twice against the Canaries but eventually left with a 2-2 result.

Norwich 3 – 2 Manchester City
photo credit: canaries.co.uk

With 12 points won at home from a total of 15 possible, Norwich would stand on 33. The game against Everton can lead anywhere, but I think Norwich could snatch at least a draw here.

Later on, the final fixture takes the Canaries to Etihad. Depending on the outcome of the tie against Real Madrid and on how UEFA plans to end the Champions League campaign, Guardiola’s side could be more concerned on the European competition than the Norwich’s visit, given that the title race in Premier League will be ended long before that time. 

What I am saying is, in a plausible scenario, Norwich will end this season within the range of 34 – 37 points, even without considering the away fixtures at Arsenal, Watford and Chelsea. That could prove to be just enough to win the relegation battle!

I know some of the above may seem optimistic even for a Norwich City fan, but I am about to give you the final argument of why all of these are possible: this is Premier League, so anything can happen…