It's not just Norwich City who have seen vital Premier League points slip away
PUBLISHED: 11:58 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:11 18 February 2016
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Norwich City are far from the only team who have had problems holding on to winning positions in the Premier League this season.
Drawing 2-2 with West Ham at Carrow Road was the third time the Canaries had allowed three points to slip from their grasp this season – and the second time in four matches.
With last month’s home clash against Liverpool seeing a 3-1 lead transform into a 5-4 defeat by the time a chaotic match had finished, the issue has been a painful one to address for City supporters recently.
In total Alex Neil’s team have seen seven points snatched away from the verge of victory this season, with the 2-2 draw at West Ham in September the other occasion – when Cheikhou Kouyate scored a late equaliser for the Hammers.
The unpredictable nature of the current top-flight campaign means there have been plenty of other teams who have suffered similar frustration though. Thirteen clubs have allowed more points to slip when on course to triumph so far, with City’s survival rivals Bournemouth the worst culprits having seen 14 points slide away. Close behind are Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool with 12 points going awry.
Title-chasing Manchester City have avoided the frustration most effectively, seeing just three points slip, in their costly 4-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur in September.
Of course, to lose a winning position a team has to be good enough to claim the lead in the first place, but with points so precious in the Premier League colosseum, that profligacy can prove particularly painful.
The recent concessions against Liverpool and West Ham have been all the more disappointing for Canaries supporters though, as it has highlighted their team’s defensive struggles.
In their past six games City have conceded 18 goals, an average of three-goals-per-game. That has negated the attacking threat Neil’s team clearly possesses and sparked furious debate about how to fix that costly leak.
That is five more than any other top-flight club has conceded in their past six matches – with Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Stoke all having conceded 13 in their last six.
In an incredible comparison, sixth-placed Southampton have kept six successive clean sheets, coinciding with the return of former Canaries loan goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
It has seen City’s total for the season sink to 50 conceded in 26 league matches, level with Sunderland as the worst record in the division, with Newcastle close behind on 49.
Neil’s team have kept clean sheets though, on three occasions so far this campaign, all at Carrow Road.
Winning 1-0 against Swansea in November was added to with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at the end of December and another 1-0 success soon after, against Southampton on January 2.
In all three of those matches central defensive duties were carried out by Ryan Bennett and Sebastien Bassong. January signing Timm Klose is now in the early stages of building a partnership with Bassong though, with goalkeeper John Ruddy also returning to league action after an 11-game exile.
If relegation is to now be avoided by the Canaries, that trio look set to be pivotal in trying to keep the back door closed.