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City's road map to pulling off a Premier League great escape

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 February 2020

Norwich City have a consistent goal threat in Teemu Pukki, but need more goals from Emi Buendia.  Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City have a consistent goal threat in Teemu Pukki, but need more goals from Emi Buendia. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

If Norwich City are to survive in the Premier League, they'll probably need something akin to a miracle. Connor Southwell takes a look back at what lessons can be learned from other dramatic survival missions.

Sam Allardyce celebrates after Sunderland completed the 'great escape' in 2016. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/PA ImagesSam Allardyce celebrates after Sunderland completed the 'great escape' in 2016. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/PA Images

City have featured as victims of others escapology acts, most famously aiding West Bromwich Albion's survival mission in 2004/05, when the Baggies became the first side to survive after finding themselves bottom at Christmas.

Now, the Canaries will need to be the architects of their own great escape - something boss Daniel Farke has mastered before for SV Lippstadt, albeit on a considerably smaller stage.

From Leicester City to West Ham United, what can the Canaries learn from history to help them stage their own safety operation?

Whether City will be able to muster enough momentum or possess the quality to construct an escape is another discussion point entirely, but in terms of the ingredients required, Farke's men only need to scan through the archives.

Nigel Pearson and his Leicester City squad completed a great escape in 2015. Picture: Nigel French/PA Archive/PA ImagesNigel Pearson and his Leicester City squad completed a great escape in 2015. Picture: Nigel French/PA Archive/PA Images

Here are some of the required attributes needed in order to complete what Farke would describe as a 'small miracle'.

A goalscorer

Sunderland have been protagonists of numerous survival missions. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.Sunderland have been protagonists of numerous survival missions. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Every side in world football would wish for a striker capable of deciding the small margins within games.

Scoring goals is the hardest part of football and the frontmen capable of consistently producing find themselves at the highest level.

That said, when recalling a number of 'great escapes' from yesteryear, the emergence of a goalscorer seems to play a significant part in any tale that culminates with top-flight survival.

For West Brom, it was ex-City striker Robert Earnshaw, who netted 11 times to help give the Baggies a fighting chance of survival.

Despite Leicester City's escape being synonymous with Jamie Vardy, it was actually Leonardo Ulloa who contributed significantly as he notched 11 goals in the campaign.

Sunderland recruited experienced goal-getter Jermain Defoe in January 2016 and it proved to be his goals that would keep them in the division.

Fortunately, where other teams have lacked that component of their side, City do possess a reliable source of offensive productivity courtesy of Teemu Pukki.

The argument may be that City will need goals from other places in the same way Carlisle United had to rely upon goalkeeper Jimmy Glass, whose strike kept them in the Football League in 1999.

Ten games to play mark

Time is ebbing away from the Canaries.

Every weekend that passes without three points feels increasingly damaging.

St James' Park was the setting for City's latest frustration after they failed to convert another positive performance into three points.

History shows that the remaining 10 fixtures serve as the best possible opportunity to complete a 'great escape'.

For the Foxes' incredible surge in 2015, they took 22 points from their final 10 games, winning seven and drawing one.

Wigan Athletic matched that in 2012 and ended up beating the drop by seven points.

Using the empirical evidence available, City would need to win between five or seven games of Premier League football, which would prove difficult given they've failed to register back-to-back victories this season.

The value of draws

The fewest amount of victories recorded for a great escape is three and, in those circumstances, the power of drawing matches has been integral to the completion of a dramatic survival mission.

Sam Allardyce's Sunderland blueprint is the best example.

The Black Cats won just three of their final 10 fixtures, but drew seven. That provided them with enough points to keep their heads above water - at City's expense again.

Three of the Canaries' last five matches in the Premier League have ended in draws. If they can add a couple of victories and increase their points return, then that could provide enough of a foundation to give them a fighting chance of writing their own story.

Recording big scalps

In their last 10 fixtures, City will travel to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge and the Etihad. If they are to stage a comeback of epic proportions, they'll have to defy the odds and extract positive results against all odds.

In another of Sunderland's fightbacks, this time in 2013, they conquered Chelsea and Manchester United away from home in a four-game winning run that helped them survive.

West Brom faced all of the top four on their way to safety, so history suggests it can be done, regardless of how desperately supporters find themselves clutching at straws.

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