Grim record looms for Norwich City after five games without a goal

The Norwich players look dejected after conceding their side’s 3rd goal during the Premier League

The Norwich City players looked shellshocked after Crystal Palace's third goal - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Not that any added motivation should be needed but if Norwich City cannot end their barren streak in front of goal, they will claim an unwanted club record. 

There may have been significant mitigation - with 10 players missing Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, leading to the postponement of Saturday's trip to Leicester - but five matches without a goal is a sight rarely seen in Canaries history. 

Since joining the Football League in 1920, a City side have only once gone six games on the spin without scoring – and it resulted in Peter Grant resigning. 

That is not going to be the case with Dean Smith, clearly, just eight matches after inheriting a team already in trouble that has since been ravaged by injury and Covid-19 absences. 

Those grim Championship days of September and October 2007 only featured five league blanks though, with a valiant 1-0 defeat away to Premier League opposition in the League Cup also in the mix, when Georgios Samaras snatched a 1-0 win for Manchester City in the 90th minute. 

After 2-0 defeats at Charlton and Wolves, a 1-0 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a goalless draw with newly-promoted Scunthorpe at Carrow Road. 

So when a team featuring players including David Marshall, Adam Drury, Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin were beaten 1-0 by a second-half penalty at QPR, Grant decided to fall on his sword, coming to a mutual agreement to leave. 

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The nosedive to Premier League relegation in 2020 also featured five consecutive league games without a goal, as Daniel Farke’s squad returned from the three-month suspension miserably during the Project Restart phase behind closed doors. 

Adding to a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United prior to the break, losing 3-0 to Southampton and 1-0 to Everton at Carrow Road all but sealed relegation after the restart. 

Todd Cantwell did score a spectacular FA Cup equaliser against Manchester United in the next game but it ended up being quarter-final defeat as Harry Maguire scored a late injury-time winner. 

That valiant effort soon faded away though, as a 4-0 slump at Arsenal and a 1-0 home loss to Brighton made it five league blanks on the bounce. 

Fail to trouble the scorers in the next game and the class of 2021-22 will claim that sorry league streak for themselves and an unwanted mention in the club’s record books. 

Emphasising those struggles, neither Teemu Pukki or Adam Idah have managed a genuine attempt at goal in any of the last three matches, since Pukki’s rising drive was tipped over by David De Gea during the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. 

Adam Idah of Norwich is denied by Vicente Guaita of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match a

Adam Idah toiled against the Eagles as City went a fifth game without a goal - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

That neither striker has managed anything of note, points to the lack of coherence and rhythm to general play from the team as a whole. 

There were at least some chances of note at Palace, as the hosts sat on their 3-0 lead, with Sam Byram’s deflected header hitting the bar from a corner. 

Jacob Sorensen’s air-kick of a lovely Pierre Lees-Melou cross came after a City corner had been cleared and Lees-Melou steered wide after Idah had linked well with teen debutant Jon Rowe on the left wing. 

Przemek Placheta also forced an excellent save from Vicente Guaita in the second half after a Christos Tzolis effort was blocked into his path, with the Polish winger unleashing a powerful effort. 

Przemyslaw Placheta of Norwich has a shot on goal during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park,

Przemyslaw Placheta offered some goal threat for the Canaries at Selhurst Park - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The failure to beat the Spaniard allowed the Match of the Day statisticians to roll out a horrible fact during their analysis. 

Just once before, in the history of the English top flight, has a team produced eight goals from their opening 19 matches. That team was Leicester City in 1977-78, going on to finish bottom with five wins and 26 goals from 42 matches. 

To lurch from an unbeaten November of hope to a dreadful December of five goalless defeats and being mentioned in the same breath as historically horrendous teams is tough to take for supporters. 

Only Wolves (9.9) average fewer shots per game than Norwich (10.2) but a defensive record only bettered by leaders Manchester City means they sit eighth in the table. 

City do average the fewest shots on target (3.2) though, behind Wolves (3.2) and Aston Villa (3.4), another team in mid-table, showing that a team doesn’t have to be prolific to avoid relegation trouble if a balance between defence and attack can be found. 

Norwich Head Coach Dean Smith reacts during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, LondonPictu

Dean Smith's early progress at Norwich City has been disrupted by a lengthy list of absentees - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The goal-difference is looking particularly grim though, with minus 34 now 11 worse than nearest competitors Newcastle.  

A similar return during the second half of the season could even threaten the all-time Premier League low of minus 69 managed by the awful Derby team of 2007-08. Two seasons ago under Farke that finished up at minus 49. 

Drastically reducing the crucial list of absentees appears utterly crucial to any chance of steering away from another embarrassing relegation debacle, ahead of the home clash with Everton on January 15.

Editor's note: This story has been updated following the postponement of the Canaries' trip to Leicester

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