What Norwich City must do to beat the drop from the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There may be little evidence to suggest Norwich City can avoid relegation from the Premier League after dropping into the bottom three at the weekend.
But they are not down yet and slip-ups from other clubs, notably Sunderland, could yet give them a chance of survival, or at the very least taking their fight to the final day of the season when, as we all know, anything can happen.
City fans looking for something to cling on to following Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, and Sunderland's 4-0 victory over Cardiff the following day, should bear in mind that it's impossible for their side to be mathematically relegated next weekend.
Only a Sunderland win at Old Trafford, and a defeat for their side at Stamford Bridge, would leave the Canaries starring at the abyss by virtue of a considerably poorer goal difference.
Even if they lost on Saturday Gus Poyet's men would still be able to effectively relegate the Canaries with a home win against West Brom the following Wednesday evening (assuming Chelsea win on Sunday of course). But a slip-up there and the battle for survival would go to the final day, with City needing to beat Arsenal while other results went their way.
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Of course if Neil Adams' side were to get a result at Stamford Bridge it would make life even more interesting – even though the favours would still need to keep coming from other sides, most notably a rejuvenated Sunderland.
Here's a look at what would have to happen for Norwich to stay up. We are not entering the realms of fantasy here – just looking at the mathematical permutations of an increasingly desperate situation for the club and its supporters.
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• IF CITY TAKE NO POINTS
They are all but relegated. For the Canaries to stay up in that scenario would require a couple of narrow defeats on their part while Sunderland suffered a series of heavy beatings with an overall turnaround of at least 15 goals (three 5-0 thrashings for Gus Poyet's side and two 1-0 defeats for City would just about do it).
On top of all that Fulham would need to take no more than one point from their remaining fixtures and Cardiff no more than two. Mathematically it would be possible to stay up. In the real world it wouldn't.
• IF CITY TAKE ONE POINT
They would still need a miracle to survive. Sunderland would have to lose each of their final three games - by any margin - while Fulham would need to take no more than two points and Cardiff three. You could argue a case for the sides below them helping the Canary cause, with fixtures like Stoke away (Fulham) and Chelsea at home (Cardiff) ahead of them. But while Sunderland could well lose at Old Trafford on Saturday it's difficult to see them emerging completely empty handed from their remaining two home fixtures.
• IF CITY TAKE TWO POINTS
They would stay up if Sunderland failed to match that tally from their three remaining games that include home fixtures against West Brom and Swansea, Fulham failed to take four points from their two games, and Cardiff failed to win both theirs (both the sides currently below Norwich have poorer goal differences).
It's a fair bet that Norwich would finish outside the bottom two with a couple of draws. But outside the bottom three? It's difficult to imagine Sunderland not at the very least scraping a couple of draws.
• IF CITY TAKE THREE POINTS
They would stay up if Sunderland failed to pick up three points from their games and Fulham and Cardiff were unable to take six from six. One win from City would just about take Fulham and Cardiff out of the equation, but again Sunderland would be the problem.
If City lost to Chelsea and beat Arsenal and Sunderland won just one of their three games then City would go down barring an incredible goal difference swing. Aston Villa would remain out of the equation for the same reason.
• IF CITY TAKE FOUR POINTS
A huge ask of course but then it would start to get interesting. Cardiff would then be unable to overhaul the Canaries, Fulham would need two wins while Villa would be catchable were they to lose their three remaining games, two of which look extremely tricky. To stay up with four more points City would need Lambert's men to implode, Sunderland to take less than four points from their fixtures - amd Fulham not to take six. Now we're getting away from the realms of fantasy – with other team's results, if not City's!
• IF CITY TAKE SIX POINTS
Even two unlikely wins wouldn't guarantee safety for the Canaries – but it would give them an excellent chance of completing a great escape. With six points under their belts they would stay up unless Sunderland won two out of three, Villa grabbed one win, West Brom a couple of draws or a win and West Ham and Hull a single point. City would be unlucky to go down in those circumstances. But sadly it's also extremely unlikely that they will bounce back from a run of five straight defeats by beating both Chelsea and Arsenal.