4 Remaining Games for Norwich City to Play 'Spoiler' This Season

Andy WardContributor IIApril 4, 2013

4 Remaining Games for Norwich City to Play 'Spoiler' This Season

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    A damaging defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic last weekend should have confirmed to Norwich City fans and players alike that their club are in the midst of a frantic relegation battle, and there is undeniably still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the Canaries are hosting top-flight football again next season.

    It's reached the stage of the campaign where results matter even more than ever, and Norwich must find a way to win again sooner rather than later, or risk throwing away all of their previous good work.

    Luckily, a run of four home games out of the remaining seven fixtures in total should give Chris Hughton hope that his team can finish the job off come May, but translating a favourable run on paper into wins on the pitch is always easier said than done.

    That said, the Canaries are likely to have a huge say in both the Champions League race and relegation stakes and will fancy their chances of causing a stir before the end of the campaign.

    Here are four games in which Norwich City could play the role of party pooper.

April 13: Arsenal (A)

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    Norwich City's 1-0 home triumph over Arsenal back in October was the result needed to kick-start the Canaries season, and the belief that such a scalp gave them enabled them to then go on a terrific 10-match unbeaten run which could ultimately save them from the drop.

    However, you can bet that the Gunners will be after revenge when Chris Hughton's side come to town for the return fixture in mid-April.

    Despite this, fans of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and perhaps even in-form Everton will be watching events at the Emirates Stadium very closely in the hope that Norwich can put a massive dent in Arsenal's Champions League dreams.

    It's a game that has shades of last season, where Norwich managed to snatch a dramatic 3-3 draw in North London and hand a lifeline to Spurs in the race for Champions League football in the process.

    As it was, Arsenal managed to hold off the challenge from their neighbours to secure what turned out to be the final Champions League place thanks to Chelsea's victory in Munich, and it looks for all the world like the race for those top-four spots could go all the way again this year.

    With Norwich's woeful away record of just one win on the road all season, the chances of them returning to Norfolk with anything seem remote, but with so much pressure on Arsenal to claim the three points, anything could happen.

April 20: Reading (H)

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    With Reading currently seven points from safety, there really is no more room for error from Nigel Adkins' outfit and the trip to Norfolk could prove pivotal in their season.

    The two home games against Southampton and Liverpool in the lead up to the clash at Carrow Road are in the "must win" category for the Royals and that momentum could give them belief going into the game with Norwich.

    However, this is likely to also be a monumental game for the Canaries in their own quest for survival, and Chris Hughton will know that a win for the home side should be enough to eliminate the threat of Reading catching his own team come the end of the campaign.

    If Reading are unable to gain maximum points from their games at the Madejski Stadium, then the Canaries will have the power to all but relegate their opponents if the gap continues to widen from now until April 20.

     

April 27: Stoke City (A)

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    Like Norwich, Stoke City are another team that have seen their form drop dramatically since the turn of the year, after a run of just one win in 12 Premier League games since boxing day.

    Both teams were comfortably in the upper mid-table pack just a few months ago, but the results have spectacularly dried up ever since and relegation now seems like a frighteningly real prospect.

    If the Canaries and the Potters continue to struggle up until the point that they meet in late April, then this could have the makings of a really significant encounter.

    With Norwich's other two remaining away fixtures taking place at Arsenal and Manchester City, you would suggest that the game at the Britannia Stadium is the most realistic chance of City getting another elusive away win under their belts, and doing so could have serious implications for their opponents.

    Both sides will feel that things shouldn't have got this close for comfort, but this match could well prove to be a surprising late-season relegation six-pointer.

May 4: Aston Villa (H)

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    Sometimes you get the feeling that certain things are written in the stars, and Norwich could well get the ultimate shot at revenge when Paul Lambert brings his Aston Villa team to Carrow Road on May 4.

    The Scot infamously left the Canaries to take over the hot seat at Villa Park in the summer, bringing to an end a truly wonderful reign in which he enjoyed almost constant success.

    Canaries fans should be forever grateful for Lambert's achievements, but with both Villa and Norwich fighting to keep their heads above water this season, he will very much be the enemy as Norwich look to keep their opponents at arm's length.

    With Villa still four points behind the Norfolk outfit at the time of writing, a defeat in this encounter could be immeasurably damaging and the same could apply to Norwich if they are unable to ease fears by failing to capitalise on winnable home games against Swansea City and Reading prior to this late season showdown.

    It promises to be a massive game at the foot of the table, but just how pivotal it could potentially be is something that can only be measured once the game finally comes around.

     

     

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