Iwan: How Leicester City respond to Arsenal defeat will be key to Norwich City clash
PUBLISHED: 13:59 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:32 26 February 2016
It’s been a long two weeks since that disappointing 2-2 against West Ham and with just 12 games to go it’s now time to start winning again.
The lads have had a few days of warm weather training where they would have been able to spend longer on the training ground and solve the problems they’ve had since the turn of the year.
It’s simple – whatever team Alex Neil picks from now until the end of the season they have to pick up 14-15 points in their remaining games to be playing Premier League football next season.
Tomorrow afternoon two of my former, and favourite, clubs go head to head at The King Power Stadium, both desperate for the points but for very different reasons. Leicester City need them to remain at the top of the table and give them a lift after the way they lost their last game at The Emirates against Arsenal.
They were so unlucky to lose in the way they did having played the majority of the second half with 10 men. It can be very tough against Arsenal when you are 11v11 but when you’re a man short it’s nearly impossible. Had Leicester gone there and lost 3-0 and been outplayed by the home side I think it would be easier to take rather than the way they lost the game to that last-minute goal from Danny Welbeck.
That will have hurt them hugely and could take some time to get out of their systems, unlike a heavy defeat where it’s just a case of “we’ve had a bad day at the office and to be fair we’ve not had many this season so let’s put thing right in our next game’.
Last time Leicester tasted defeat they went unbeaten in their next seven league games but they did draw against Bournemouth and Aston Villa so Norwich do go there with hope. It is a real tough one for me as I would love to see my former club win the league – what a story that would be. However, on the other hand, I’m desperate for Norwich to remain in the top flight of English football.
Claudio Ranieri’s men are joint top scorers in the league along with Manchester City and have failed to score in just two of their 12 home games so it’s a pretty tall order for the Canaries to go there and win, especially when Norwich have yet to keep a clean sheet away from home. They are the only club in the league yet to do so.
If I’m honest I can’t see Norwich going to the King Power and winning and I’ve two reasons for saying this.
Firstly the pace that Leicester poses is scary and they punish you. Secondly, they are one of, if not the, fittest teams in the Premier League with their players covering so much ground in 90 minutes. Norwich are going to have to match this, although I saw the other week that they are are well down the table when it comes to distance covered in 90 minutes. It promises to be a tough few days for Norwich as they host Chelsea on Tuesday night at probably the worst time to face the Londoners.
They are firing on all cylinders again under Guus Hiddink, having not lost a league game since the Dutchman returned to Stamford Bridge, and then it’s that long trip across country to face another club in big trouble, Swansea City, in a game I’ll be working at next Saturday.
• COBBLERS ON THE MARCH IN LEAGUE TWO
I think it’s fantastic what’s happening at Northampton Town after a really turbulent season and can’t stress enough what a great job Chris Wilder, his staff and the players have done.
Their win at York on Tuesday night was their 10th in a row and their 15th in their last 16 league games.
They will surely win promotion from League Two, hopefully as champions.
They are 12 points clear of Plymouth who are second and 15 in front of Oxford, who are third.
The Cobblers have had so much off the field problems this season with staff and players not being paid and whether the club would go under or not.
However, to their credit they’ve fought tooth and nail to get to where they are today.
While their mortgages weren’t getting paid they concentrated on putting things right on the field which they did and, in doing so, everything else took care of itself.
There was talk that their new star fan Shaquille O’Neal might get a run-out in their last game of the season if they’ve won promotion by then which I’m convinced they will have.
That is something I’d pay to go and see. but one thing’s for sure – I’d hate to pick him up for corners!
• BEST OF LUCK TO YOUNGSTER
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish young Conor McGrandles a full recovery after his horrendous double fracture last week while playing for Falkirk against Morton.
The young man had gone north of the border to gain valuable experience and it’s tragic that his loan spell should come to an abrupt end like this. I’m sure he’ll get all the support and treatment he needs from Norwich City and let’s all hope we see him out playing the game he loves in the near future.