Last weekend’s game against Fulham represented a real six pointer for the Canaries. In a relatively close game Norwich certainly had the better chances with both van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer forcing David Stockdale into two excellent saves, whilst the crossbar helped keep out a dangerous free kick from Robert Snodgrass. Even after Hugo Rodallega’s strike late in the first half Norwich still looked on for a comeback. Yet, it was Fulham who eventually prevailed after a period of some real last ditch defending leaving Norwich without a goal now in their last three matches.
After the game new manager Neil Adams could not fault the effort of his Norwich players emphasising the first class fighting spirit they displayed throughout the game. Nevertheless, the question still remains that if the Canaries cannot pick up any points in a relegation six pointer how can they hope to gain any from their last four games against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal?
Evidently, the Canaries aren’t going to be favourites in any of their remaining games, least of all against current league leaders Liverpool. After the rousing scenes at the end of the Red’s 3-2 victory against Manchester City few sides would relish the prospect of playing a buoyant Gerrard and co. Suarez in particular will look forward to this fixture having put four beyond the reach John Ruddy when the two sides met in the league back in December. The Uruguayan has now scored 11 goals in his last five games against the Canaries and will seek to lay further damage to the survival hopes of Neil Adams’s Norwich side. Whilst Norwich will be in front of their home crowd at Carrow Road they will feel that they need more than 12 men to beat a Liverpool side looking to extend their winning streak to a record 11 games as they close in on their first league title in 24 years.
When the fixture list came out back in June Norwich would have no doubt been dreading a trip to Old Trafford at this pivotal time of the season. As it is this fixture could present Norwich with a half decent chance of picking up some vital points. United’s poor home form has been well documented this season, as has their frequently unsteady defensive showings. The Canaries will look to take advantage of this as much as possible as they seek to avenge a 4-0 defeat inflicted on them in the League Cup at Old Trafford back in October.
Jose Mourinho may well still be conceding that Chelsea’s title hopes are over yet Manchester City’s latest 1-1 draw with Sunderland has thrown Chelsea right back in the mix. Add to this the fact that City have still got to go away to Everton and people will start believing Chelsea really can regain their first Premier League title since 2010; everyone except Jose that is. This again highlights the fact that the Canaries will have to produce something extra special to beat Mourinho’s men. Chelsea currently have the best defensive record in the league, conceding only 24 goals, and for a Norwich side who have only scored 26 goals all season and failed to find the net against Fulham, the omens do not look promising.
The Canaries final game of the season comes against Arsenal and presents their best chance of picking up points. Whilst evidently subject to change, Arsenal’s current away form is poor having only picked up three points from their last five away games. Norwich’s home form in comparison presents positive reading for the Neil Adams and his men with eight points picked up from the same number of games. Form guide aside, with a must win FA Cup final the following weekend Arsene Wenger is likely to rest some of his key players. Norwich will hope that Arsenal’s trip to Carrow Road will be a mere sideshow to the main event for the Gunners in turn helping Norwich’s chances of picking up some vital points on the final day of the season.
Overall, Neil Adams does not have a bad squad at his disposal. Norwich have a real team ethic with a group of players capable of banding together to produce solid performances. Yet, the problem for Norwich remains to be their lack of killer instinct in front of goal, and as the old saying goes ‘goals win you games’. The bookmakers are not favouring Norwich’s chances either with SkyBet placing the Canaries at 4/9 to go down despite the fact that Neil Adams’s side are currently two points clear of Fulham. If this season has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. There is bound to be a few more twists and turns in the relegation battle yet so despite the incredibly difficult task ahead for Norwich such facts will at least keep the players motivated for an upset. Ultimately however, whilst Norwich may gain a few of points from their remaining fixtures, they will not pick up enough points to avoid the drop.