OPPONENTS Norwich City
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 23rd February 2014
VENUE Carrow Road






Trading the ploughed field of a pitch in Ukraine for a neatly kept farmer’s field in Norfiolk, Tottenham’s players who made the long journey in between have to shake the stiffness out of their legs to face a Norwich City side who are in the hunt for points to pull themselves away from the bottom of the table.

While Spurs lost out in Dnipropetrovsk, it was a sound enough performance, only lacking a goal to make it a good trip. The fact that Emmanuel
Adebayor, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Hugo Lloris and Younes Kaboul all stayed at home indicates that Tim Sherwood took a calculated gamble in the Europa League, with half an eye on the Premier League games ahead. With Adebayor said to be carrying a leg injury, he might have needed the rest to be fit for Norwich, while the others were spared the long flight there and back. They can all be expected to start, with Capoue, Dawson, Townsend and Friedel all dropping to the bench, along with the unfortunate Roberto Soldado, who lack one vital ingredient on Thursday, which was a bit of luck. Mousa Dembele should also return, with Christian Eriksen also available to start, meaning a tough decision for Tim as to who makes way.

Tottenham are bound to play the match in an attacking style, with Norwich good at home, but finding goals hard to come by.

Gary Hooper was a schoolboy at Spurs, but they did not take him on into the youth system, but he flourished at Wolves and then Celtic, so his signing made sense in terms of goals being scored and he has done well, but five goals in 18 league matches is not perhaps the return that Chris Hughton was looking for.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel is a likely starter, as the home team have limited options in attack. The Dutchman is tall and mobile and a danger at set pieces. He scored a lot of goals in his home country and also in Portugal, but has had no joy in the Premier League. The other player signed to play up front, Johan Elmander, has not set the league alight on his return to the Premiership, but then he didn’t when he played for Bolton Wanderers either. Big and strong, with a habit of running offside, he can score goals though, so Tottenham cannot take too many liberties.

A number of goals for the Canaries come from midfield. Johnny Howson will be looking to return to the side after suffering a back injury, with his driving runs putting him in goal-scoring positions and he is also useful with a dead ball. Ryan Bennett will be missing with a hamstring injury and loan signing from Newcastle Jonas Guttierez has a shin injury, which rules him out.

Wes Hoolahan is industrious and an annoying presence when you are trying to settle on the ball, which Hughton will use as a weapon to stop Spurs making the play in the match, but in Nathan Redmond and Robert Snodgrass, Norwich have two players who are able to take the game to the opposition. Redmond, once of Birmingham City, is a direct runner with the ball and will look to take on his marker. Good with his crossing and shooting, he will keep the Spurs defence on their toes. Snodgrass is similar, but can pass the ball through a defence to set up chances, while also being astute enough to find space in the box to get on the end of attacks too.

There are two enforcers in the Norwich midfield and we might see both of them played, as they seek to stop Tottenham playing their passing game through this part of the pitch.  Alexander Tettey and Leroy Fer.  Tettey is more of a holding midfielder, while Fer prefers to get forward and is known as "The Bouncer" for his size and physical approach to the game.  Bradley Johnson and Anthony Pilkington are other choices that the manager can make, with the former a "hard man" in midfield, with not a lot of other attributes to his game, while Pilkington is a wide midfielder, who is a decent crosser of the ball.

The City defence has another ex-Spur in their ranks, with Sebastien Bassong being centre-half and a leader, sometimes captain.  The Cameroon defender is a tough tackler, good in the air and likes to bring the ball out of defence.  He will need to be closed down quickly, as this will leave the ball having to be pumped forward, rather than played through their midfield.  Russell Martin, Martin Olsson and Steven Whitaker are all dependable full backs, who have pace to get forward, but with the speed in the Tottenham breakaways, this may open up space in behind them. Ryan Bennett is out injured, limiting the options at the back for Hughton, but veteran former Everton central defender Joseph Yobo has been brought in to steady the ship, but his better days are behind him and his lack of pace might give Spurs opportunities to get past him.

Behind them, England hopeful John Ruddy has had a torrid time between the sticks, making some errors and generally producing the sort of performances to forget.  He had a good season last year and now, when he is needed to keep clean sheets, the pressure is perhaps telling on him.  If Tottenham can get more of their shot son target, they might find some joy.

Tottenham have a good recent record against Norwich and with only one win in eleven games, facing Spurs, who have the best away record in the division, it looks on paper as there can only be one outcome. However, this part of the season sees teams pulling out performances to save their skins.

On this occasion, I think the Canaries will make it difficult for Spurs to take the points with ease, but their poor goal haul means that they are vulnerable if they go a goal down. That could be Tottenham’s greatest asset, with a quick start similar to the one made at Newcastle United in our last Premier League match putting Norwich in a position where they have to open up to seek the goals that would gain them points. This might then play into Sherwood’s hands.

Norwich have done well at home with their 0-0 draw with Manchester City their best result, along with a draw against Everton and a 1-0 win over Southampton, but I hope Spurs will go on to gain a narrow victory, but an early goal might open the game up to win by a bigger margin.  I hope it doesn't signal the end for Chrissie at Carrow Road, but our need for points is just as keen as we push to keep the pressure on at the top.

PREDICTION Norwich City    1         Tottenham Hotspur    2
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs welcome back the players rested from the midweek game, so Emmanuel Adebayor, despite having a leg injury, Mousa Dembele, Kyle Walker, Hugo Lloris, Aaron Lennon and Younes Kaboul are all up for selection.  Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches both have back injuries and Sandro faces a late test on his shin problem, while Gylfi Sigurdsson should shake off a hamstring pull to make the bench.
Ryan Bennett will be absent with a hip injury, along with Jonas Guttierez (shin), Michael Turner (hamstring) and Elliott Bennett (knee) joinign him on the sidelines.  Johnny Howson hopes to overcome a back injury with a late fitness test, but apart from them, Chris Hughton has a full squad to choose from.

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Norwich City   1 (0)                                                                            Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)
Premier League
Sunday 23rd February 2014                                                                                                                    Kick off 16:00
Carrow Road
Snodgrass 46
Ruddy (time-wasting) 90+2



Dembele (dissent) 32
Vertonghen (foul on Hooper) 75
Dawson (foul on Hooper) 88


Crowd :   26,834 Weather :  Dry, chilly
Referee :  Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Ledger; Mr. D. Bryan
Fourth Official :  Jon Moss -
Norwich City kicked off and played towards the Barclay Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Norwich City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  John RUDDY

  2  Russell MARTIN
  5  Sebastien BASSONG (c)
26  Joseph YOBO
23  Martin OLSSON

10  Leroy FER
  4  Bradley JOHNSON

27  Alexander TETTEY
  7  Robert SNODGRASS
22  Nathan REDMOND

  9  9 Ricky van WOLFSWINKEL (11 Gary HOOPER 72)

Unused subs: 
13  Mark BUNN
  3  Steven WHITAKER
  8  Johnny HOWSON
12  Anthony PILKINGTON
16  Johan ELMANDER

  25  Hugo LLORIS

16  -Kyle NAUGHTON
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  3  Danny ROSE (17  Andros TOWNSEND 82)

  7  Aaron LENNON
  8  PAULINHO (  9  Roberto SOLDADO 65)
42  Nabil BENTALEB
15  Etienne CAPOUE (21  Nacer CHADLI 13)

19  Mousa DEMBELE

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
32  Zeki FRYERS

23  Christian ERIKSEN
35  Harry KANE

Manager :  Chris Hughton Manager :  Tim Sherwood
Sponsor :   Aviva Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  errea Kit Supplier :   Under Armour

Match report

With just one shot on target. Tottenham really got what they deserved today. Gone was the bright interplay, decisive passing and attacking verve and in it’s place was a plodding display that played into Norwich’s hands and they were well worth their 1-0 victory, that keeps Chris Hughton in a job for another week.

Spurs took to the field with a 4-5-1 formation, with many of the players who were rested returning, except Kyle Walker, who was missing from the squad and Naughton kept his place at right back. The idea I guess was to work hard at denying Norwich time on the ball to again possession to launch our own attacks.

Within three minutes, Norwich had a chance from a corner, with a Capoue header from a City corner almost dropping for van Wolfswinkel, but the ball wouldn’t come down for him and even though he had two bites at the chance on the edge of the six yard box, he couldn’t get a touch to get it past Hugo Lloris.  Spurs were trying to close Norwich down and force them into errors, so when Lennon ran in from the halfway line on the left, he almost slipped a pass through the middle of the defence to put Dembele in on goal, as Joseph Yobo clipped behind him, but the Belgian could not collect the ball cleanly and it ran through to Ruddy.

Etienne Capoue was injured in the move that led to Norwich’s early opportunity, eventually making way for Nacer Chadli in the 13th minute, which forced a change in formation. Tottenham found that by closing keeper Ruddy down when he was clearing back-passes, his kicks went out of play. It also worked the other way around, with Bentaleb trying to play a bit too much football in his own last third, giving Olsson a chance to get away on their left, but his cross went out of play before coming back in. The Norwich forwards appeared to be concentrating on shutting Michael Dawson down when he was on the ball, causing him to play the ball upfield in a hurry. When Spurs did settle on the ball, a good spell of possession ended in Paulinho having a curling shot from left of centre, 18 yards out, but it went high and wide. Olsson then broke on the left wing, pulling the ball back but it was behind all three yellow shorts in the Spurs penalty area.

The game got bogged down with new referee Pawson giving fouls and disrupting play, but with ten minutes left before the break, Dawson got caught under a bouncing ball and Ricky van Wolfswinkel got away, but dallied on the ball allowing Spurs to get men in front of him and then when Vertognhen cleared, the Dutchman flew into a tackle that took Jan’s ankle. Ironic that the referee was happy enough to book Dembele for dissent, but let van Wolfswinkel off with a lecture. What is more dangerous ??

Lennon showed good commitment in running a long way back to nick the ball off Fer, but Tottenham’s fluid midfield was at risk of exposing Rose on our left side, with nobody stationed to protect the left back. Wolfswinkel got away there in injury time, with Vertonghen bringing him down for a free-kick, which gave Lloris a tricky time in stretching to knock the ball away as Johnson came in behind him. There was just time (entering the second minute of added time) for the corner to be taken and as soon as it was headed out the half-time whistle went. I have never understood the reasoning behind this, as the whistle should be blown when time is up, wherever the ball is (even on the corner quadrant).

A zorb hamster wheel race in the interval saw one Norwich fan wipe out, but there was hope that Sherwood would talk some life into the team at half-time.

It didn’t work, as within two minutes, Spurs were a goal down. Bentaleb lost the ball on the halfway line on the right side, van Wolfswinkel played it inside to Johnson, who played it outside to the right for Snodgrass to come inside and bend a low shot past Lloris’ right hand as he dived to try and stop it.

Spurs were raged during the next ten minutes, allowing Norwich players to block passes, having it pinched off them when they were in two minds what to do with the ball and generally being second to balls. The one up font was nto working, with three Noriwch defenders picking off any balls played up to Adebayor. When Rose took the ball forward after a Canaries attack broke down, his pass was behind Adebyor when a good chance looked on. Not as bad as Nathan Redmond, who came inside form the left ot hit a shot that bent as it flew and ended up about a yard in front of him on the other side of the pitch,

Adebayor nearly broke through, after robbing Bassong, pushing the ball through a bit too far and allowing Ruddy to dive at his feet to block him, then Snodgrass fired a shot in at Lloris after Spurs players stood off him, as he turned away from the box. The French keeper kept out his fierce shot. The chances were coming quicker now and Adebayor once more was denied by a Ruddy plunge at his feet as he looked to get on the end of a Paulinho pass. It was the Brazilian’s last action, as Sherwood went two up top bringing on Soldado. Within a minute, Lennon’s ball in to Adebayor was laid off to Roberto, but his shot sliced into the side netting when he should have hit the target. Then Lennon’s cross was a little too high for Soldado to get a decent header on the ball, gliding it wide.

Spurs were pushing for a goal and were keeping Norwich pinned back, but the massed ranks of the yellow shirts were keeping them out. To try and get some respite, Hughton brought on Hooper, who had been rejected as a kid at White Hart Lane, so had to show Tottenham what they had been missing.  As it was, Norwich tried to run down time by falling every time they were tackled and kicking the ball away whenever they could (a yellow card offence for Dembele). Spurs aided their cause by loose passing and a lack of conviction when on the ball. Big gaps were left all over the pitch and it resulted in Vertonghen conceding a foul on Hooper which Snodgrass bent just wide of the goal. But Hugo had it covered.

When Spurs got a free-kick in midfield, it was taken quickly and Demebele played the ball to Chadli on the left, but his low shot was blocked out by Ruddy, who dived to his left to deny the Belgian. However, the consistent concession of possession allowed Norwich to threaten and Snodgrass fired another shot narrowly over the goal. A succession of soft free-kicks were given by the rookie referee gave Snodgrass the chance to crack a shot against the bar that bounced down and out, then Redmond was played in on the left, forcing Lloris to save at point blank range.

Long balls to Adebayor were just not working and Norwich broke on one, with Hooper running away from the Tottenham defence, but the ball pulled back for Tettey was behind the midfielder, despite his attempt to back heel it in.  The game petered out with Norwich looking good on the break, which is what we should have been.  Whether or not it was the trip to Ukraine or not, our passing was poor, the crossing was poor, the tactic of aiming long balls at Adebayor was not a winning one and the team looked tired, in thought and deed. The fact that we only got one shot on target tells it all.  The panic attacking towards the end told a tale and there was never enough finesse in our final ball that had to open a tight Norwich back four and five in front of it.

Hughton had done a job on Manchester City at Carrow Road and he done it again. He deserves to stay up, or if not kept on at Norwich, that he finds a club who appreciate his abilities. He out-witted Sherwood and Spurs failed to score for the first time under the new Head Coach’s stewardship in the Premier League. In truth, Spurs were well beaten and with Liverpool pulling a 4-3 win out against Swansea City earlier in the day, fourth place seems to be drifting away. It is a worry with games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to come next month, all who would have watched how Norwich stopped Tottenham.

With the Dnipro game on Thursday before we face Cardiff next Sunday, Spurs need to get back on track quickly. With news in the papers today that Sherwood was winning over the board, this result might set his own personal hopes back as much as the team’s Champion League ambitions.

John Lacy's Love Child


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What you thought
Benny The Ball What is the point of resting players when you play the ones who played on Thursday in Sunday's match ?  Our record after Europa League games is particularly weak this season and surely, Sherwood must have worked it out why that was ?

Perhaps not.  Perhaps his naivety has come home to roost.  Not after one loss, but the performances against the top clubs has been a worry and there are still three big ones to come, however easy our run=in might look on paper.  This one looked as straightforward too and look what happened today.

I don't want to under-estimate what Tim has done so far, but we are heading into familiar water, with a good season up to a point and then we start to unravel against sides we should beat and those we should have only an outside chance against.  I thought we were past all that, but it appears we might be saying at the end of the season "We've Got Our Tottenham Back".

- -.



Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Cardiff City 0 Hull City 4 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Everton 0 Saturday
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Stoke City 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
West Ham United 3 Southampton 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Aston Villa 0 Sunday
Liverpool 4 Swansea City 3 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 27 18 6 3 49 21 60 +28
2 Arsenal 27 18 5 4 52 27 59 +25
3 Manchester City 26 18 3 5 69 27 57 +42
4 Liverpool 27 17 5 5 70 35 56 +35
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 27 15 5 7 36 33 50 +3
6 Manchester United 27 13 6 8 43 31 45 +12
7 Everton 26 12 9 5 37 27 45 +10
8 Newcastle United 27 12 4 11 33 38 40 -5
9 Southampton 27 10 9 8 38 31 39 +7
10 West Ham United 27 8 7 12 31 34 31 -3
11 Aston Villa 27 7 7 13 27 37 28 -10
12 Swansea City 27 7 7 13 36 40 28 -4
13 Hull City 27 8 6 13 29 31 30 -2
14 Stoke City 27 6 8 13 26 39 27 -13
15 Crystal Palace 26 8 2 16 18 38 26 -18
16 Norwich City 27 7 7 13 20 39 28 -19
17 West Bromwich Albion 27 4 13 10 31 39 25 -8
18 Sunderland 26 6 6 14 26 42 24 -16
19 Cardiff City 27 5 7 15 19 48 22 -29
20 Fulham 27 6 3 18 27 59 21 -32


Position before match :  5th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th

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