The League is Upside-Down (At Least When We’re Playing)

Today is a chance to make a new start, and it’s imperative that we take the opportunity, because the arithmetic of this season is absolutely incredible.

You might have noticed that this season we’ve been fulfilling the clichéd idea that Wrexham always do better against the stronger teams in our division. I’ve heard this repeated ever since I was a kid, and I’m inclined to think it’s no more true of us than any other team. Fans naturally dwell on poor results in games they feel should have been won, and that colours their view of the context of the season.

Having said that, this season the cliché is true to an incredible extent!

Against the sides currently in the seven play-off spots, our record is excellent. Four wins, three draws and a single defeat has shown that we’ve certainly got the potential to be in a much higher league position when we get our act together. Even that one loss, at Solihull Moors, could have turned out differently: we were 2-1 down and dominating the game when a corner went straight in and derailed our fightback.

At the other end of the table it’s a very different story. To describe our results against the sides in the relegation scrap as catastrophic would possibly be an understatement! In eight games against sides currently in the bottom eight, we’ve picked up just four points. One of those was from the 1-1 home draw against today’s opponents, Sutton, and we’d have lost that too if it wasn’t for Bobby Grant’s 88th minute penalty!

A nightmarish scenario suggests itself when we consider those statistics. Imagine how awful our league position would be if we hadn’t done so well against the promotion-chasing sides! We’ve only won two games out of against the sides outside the top seven. That’s an horrific 11 points out of a possible 51 against the teams who aren’t in a play-off spot.

Extrapolate these figures across the whole season, and the conclusions are obvious. If we kept up the form we’ve managed against the top seven, earning 1.875 points per match, we’d be equal top, although Barrow would have a game in hand on us.

Obviously, the picture would be incredibly bleak if we do the reverse calculation: a rate of 0.22 points per game against the rest of the division would leave us 18 points adrift of the current bottom team, Chorley!

Starting today, we’re embarking on a run of games which offer an opportunity to overturn this remarkable record. Usually I get annoyed by people who claim a match is a six-pointer in the middle of December, but I can see the logic in viewing the trip to Sutton as pivotal.

Discarding last Saturday, which clearly was extremely low on Dean Keates’ list of priorities, we’ve hit some good form. Bouncing back from the disappointments of Fylde and Ebbsfleet, we’ve registered excellent back-to-back wins over good teams and finally created some momentum. As I suggested last week, it was a pity the Sutton game wasn’t played then, with the FA Trophy today, but at least Keates has had the luxury of two free midweeks to work with his team.

Furthermore, today kicks off a sequence of five matches against sides scrapping against relegation. All our upcoming opponents are within five points of us, in one direction or the other, and the double-header against bottom side Chorley looks particularly important.

At the end of this sequence of matches we need to be able to look back at these statistics and see a significant improvement in our points total against our fellow strugglers. If we can’t then we really will be in trouble.

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