Canaries are on the up but scoring more goals is the next issue
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As Norwich City's search for goals ramps up with form improving, David Freezer compares the current season's return with previous Canaries campaigns.
Consistency of results and performance has been found under head coach Daniel Farke, but now Norwich City need to find a way to score more goals.
Just four teams have scored fewer goals than the Canaries in the Championship this season, all of them struggling towards the wrong end of the table. City have scored 30 goals in 30 games, yet still sit comfortably in mid-table thanks to a solid defensive base.
Just six teams have conceded fewer than the 33 goals let in by Farke’s side – and that has followed on from conceding 12 in their opening five matches, prompting a change of emphasis after a nightmare 4-0 defeat at Millwall at the end of August.
The Canaries have won 1-0 on six occasions so far and kept 12 clean sheets, five of them in their last seven matches, to end any lingering relegation worries and keep the play-off flame flickering.
Keep winning 1-0 and that will be enough, of course, but the likelihood of continuing to win thanks to excellent long-range strikes – as they did at Brentford thanks to James Maddison and at home against Middlesbrough through Tom Trybull – is slim.
It is not for a lack of chances either. Only Brentford and Fulham average more than City’s 14 shots per game this season but only one team has been more profligate. Birmingham City – improving rapidly under Steve Cotterill after a miserable start – have managed only 22 goals in their 30 games, averaging a goal every 16.8 shots.
Norwich average 14 shots a goal, so it’s clear the intent has been there all season, just not the accuracy required.
That is a huge swing from last season, when Alex Neil’s team were much more open, scoring 50 and conceding 42 after 30 games – although sitting seventh and five points adrift of the top six at this stage of the campaign.
Of course, with Alan Irvine seeing out the season as caretaker, the Canaries finished the season as joint highest scorers with 85 goals, but with the third worst defensive record (69 conceded) widely seen as the reason that City missed out on the play-offs by 10 points.
Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber have addressed the defensive issues but the last time a Norwich team had scored so few goals at this stage in a second-tier season was 10 years ago, when Glenn Roeder’s team had 29 goals after 30 games in 2007-08.
Next on their to-do list: goals.