Iwan Roberts: Why I'm sticking up for one of Norwich City's closest rivals

Teemu Pukki of Norwich scores against Stoke

Teemu Pukki scores from the penalty spot for Norwich against Stoke - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

So, with 11 games to go Norwich City sit proudly on top of the Championship looking down at the rest of the division 10 points clear of Watford and Swansea, their nearest rivals. 

Unlike some, I’ve never been one to tempt fate as I know what an unpredictable division the Championship is, but it would now have to be some sort of miracle for any team to finish above Norwich and win the title in the form the Canaries are in right now. 

Talking of Swansea, they moved level on points with second-placed Watford on Wednesday night after their 1-1 draw up at Ewood Park. It came thanks to an Andre Ayew penalty kick, his and Swansea’s fourth penalty in as many games, something that has really got under the skin and angered quite a few of their rival supporters. 

I like Swansea and have a lot of time for them as a football club. They have some great people working there that I’ve got to know over the years and are always very welcoming whenever I visit The Liberty. 

Swansea City's Andre Ayew scores against Blackburn Rovers

Swansea City's Andre Ayew scores from the spot against Blackburn in midweek - Credit: PA

That’s why I feel the need to stick up for the Swans after some of the things that have been said about them and what they’ve been labelled as over the last couple of weeks - well, since they were awarded that last-minute penalty up at The Bet365 stadium last week. 

Ask any Swansea supporter and they will be honest enough to tell you that it wasn’t a penalty against Stoke when Kyle Naughton was adjudged to have been bought down with seconds of the game left. I think he anticipated contact which never happened and dived, simple as that. Every club’s had them given for them!  

You would think he’s the only player ever to have dived to win a penalty the way some people were going on about it! 

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It’s made me quite angry the way people have been saying how Swansea are going to cheat their way to promotion after a couple of decisions have gone their way in the last couple of weeks, so I did a little bit of homework to fight their corner. 

Last season, Swansea were awarded four penalties in their 46 league games. This season they’ve been awarded five, four of which have been given since February 27. So up until then they had been given just one penalty in their opening 30 games - that doesn’t smell of a team trying to cheat their way to promotion if you ask me. 

Swansea’s five Championship penalties awarded means they are 10th in the league’s list. Topping that list with most penalties awarded this season are Norwich and Watford with nine each.  

Penalties awarded – top 10 

Norwich    9 

Watford   9 

Reading    8 

Preston   7 

Blackburn   6 

Cardiff   6 

Rotherham   6 

Wycombe   5 

Brentford  5 

Swansea  5  

While Swansea won one penalty in their opening 30 games Norwich were awarded nine in their opening 32 games. Watford, are equal top with nine, four of which have come in their last 12 games. 

Neither club has taken the stick Swansea have lately. 

The reason I’ve chosen my two former clubs to compare with Swansea is because most of the noise and abuse aimed at Steve Cooper’s team over the last couple of weeks has come from a handful of Norwich and Watford supporters and has been totally unfair in my opinion, especially when you look at the bare facts of things. 

I get the fact that the three clubs are fighting it out for automatic promotion - well, probably the Hornets battling the Swans for that second place. I just think people need to think a wee bit and maybe do a bit of research before hurling abuse at players from other clubs. Anyway, rant over! 

You don’t have to look too far back to see when Norwich last won eight consecutive Championship games – it's not that long ago. In fact, it’s just under two years ago now when the majority of this Norwich side under the guidance of Daniel Farke achieved this incredibly difficult feat. 

On April 4, 2019, City welcomed QPR to Carrow Rd and put four past them to make it right consecutive wins, which virtually guaranteed Norwich they title. 

On Sunday, they travel to Hillsborough to face a side fighting for their lives to maintain their Championship status. 

Wednesday have lost their last six league games, scoring just three goals, two of which came in their defeat to Luton. 

They sit second from bottom, five points from safety, and won’t be looking forward to the visit of team determined to bring home three points, which will take them a step further towards another title. 

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