Calculators out for Norwich City’s Premier League survival bid
Norwich City fans' prayers could be answered as soon as Sunday with the right combination of Premier League results – but stand by for more twists and turns with as many as seven clubs still trying to clinch top-flight survival.
The combination of a defeat for Aston Villa at home to Chelsea in tomorrow's lunchtime kick-off and victory for the Canaries against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday would guarantee Chris Hughton's men another season among the elite.
That is because Villa and third-from-bottom Wigan, who meet at the DW Stadium on the final day of the season, could not then both catch Norwich.
But with Paul Lambert's team in their best form of the season after five wins in eight league games, and City having registered just two victories in 19 league matches since mid-December, that scenario could prove to be a shade optimistic for supporters who might be more inclined to put a ring round Tuesday on the calendar instead.
Regardless of Villa's result, if the Canaries beat Albion in their final home match, they will take a six-point lead over Wigan – and anything less than victory for the Latics at Arsenal on Tuesday night will then mean Norwich are safe.
A draw against West Brom will also be enough for City to stay up if Wigan are beaten at Arsenal.
A second home defeat in a row, however, could make the trip to Manchester City on Sunday week a very uncomfortable afternoon for all of a yellow and green persuasion.
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It is to Norwich's advantage that there are so many clubs still battling to avoid that third relegation place and the trauma of accompanying Queens Park Rangers and Reading into the Championship.
Eleventh-placed Stoke, six points ahead of Wigan and with the best goal difference in the bottom half of the table, are safe barring two Wigan victories and a catastrophic turnaround in goal difference.
But Fulham, like Villa, on 40 points, are not completely out of danger yet with testing games to come at home to Liverpool and away to Swansea.
The two sides immediately above the Canaries, Southampton and Sunderland, meet at the Stadium of Light on Sunday – and if Sunderland slip up, they have a potentially difficult final fixture away to Tottenham.
Their North East rivals, Newcastle – the side sandwiched between Norwich and the bottom three – will be desperate to make the most of Sunday's trip to relegated QPR with a tough-looking final home game against Arsenal.
Newcastle are currently just one goal worse off than the Canaries on goal difference, with minus 23, the same as Wigan.
If goal difference plays any part in the final table, Norwich's current standing of minus 22 puts them just behind Villa on minus 21, but Fulham, Southampton and Sunderland have much smaller deficits.
• Remaining games
Stoke (41 pts) – May 12: Tottenham (h). May 19: Southampton (a)
Fulham (40 pts) – May 12: Liverpool (h). May 19: Swansea (a).
Aston Villa (40 pts) – Tomorrow: Chelsea (h). May 19: Wigan (a).
Southampton (39 pts) – May 12: Sunderland (a). May 19: Stoke (h)
Sunderland (38 pts) – May 12: Southampton (h). May 19: Tottenham (a).
Norwich (38 pts) – May 12: West Bromwich Albion (h). May 19: Manchester City (a).
Newcastle (38 pts) – May 12: QPR (a). May 19: Arsenal (h).
Wigan (35 pts) – May 14: Arsenal (a). May 19: Aston Villa (h).