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Spurs v Norwich, 26.12.15

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 2015
(3PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) NORWICH CITY 0 (0)

Scorers:-
Kane 26(pen), 42
Carroll, 80

Attendance:- 35,198

Referee:- Mike Jones
Assistants:- S Long, S Beck
Fourth Official:- J Adcock

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Chadli, 86); Eriksen (sub Carroll, 72), Alli (sub Son, 79), Lamela; Kane

Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Rose; Bentaleb

Booked:- Dier (foul on Howson/dissent)

Norwich (4-2-3-1):- Rudd; Martin (Capt.), Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Mulumbu (sub Howson, 73), Tettey; Redmond, Odjidja-Ofoe (sub Dorrans, 73), Brady (sub Mbokani Bezua, 79); Jerome

Subs not used:- Ruddy; Whittaker; Hoolahan, Lafferty

Booked:- Tettey (foul on Lamela), Howson (foul on Davies)

On the second day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:- An Ars-en-al defeat! Three rivals beaten, two Kane goals, and a Carroll stinger too!

Yes, it is was a great Boxing Day for Spurs, who played after Man United had been well beaten by Stoke. Leicester lost at Liverpool, and Arsenal were thrashed in the evening at St Mary’s, where we had won so well last week. The main event for Spurs fans though was to see their team comfortably beat Norwich with two goals by Harry Kane and a genuine Christmas cracker of a goal by late substitute Tom Carroll. Oh, and Chelsea only drew at home to our next rivals Watford too!

It was an incredibly mild day at White Hart Lane with temperatures hitting 15 -16 degrees. The weather was overcast, with a swirling wind, blowing towards the Paxton End. Spurs kicked off against the wind towards Park Lane. Mauricio Pochettino’s team was unchanged with the exception that Christian Eriksen started on the right and Lamela was on the left. Lamela had an impactive game, and perhaps the strategy there was to threaten “Canaries” skipper Russell Martin at right back.

There was a good crowd, although Norwich only took up about two thirds of their allocation leaving a few empty seats, but I suspect seats that were paid for by their club.

Norwich made a good start, with Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe supporting Jerome up front, and wing men Redmond and Brady also offering plenty of danger to Spurs. Hugo Lloris had to make a great early save from Odjidja-Ofoe, diving to his left. Brady had supplied Odjidja-Ofoe the ball from the left. 10 minutes later, and before Spurs had found their rhythm, Jerome displayed skill in beating defenders to get into the box on the right, but Alderweireld did clear the danger, conceding a corner. Soon after, Lloris had to save a decent cross/shot by Brady, conceding another corner. At this stage it looked very unlike a possible Spurs win.

Finally Spurs got going, but it was mid-way through the half. The excellent Dele Alli passed to Lamela ahead of him on the left, and the crowd bayed for handball when Lamela’s cross/shot was defended in the area, but referee Mike Jones was having none of it. A lovely ball by Alderweireld started a Spurs attack through Lamela, Eriksen and Alli, before Harry Kane hit a good shot from the right, but just wide across goal.

Kane then won a penalty when he was clearly brought down by goalkeeper Declan Rudd, who was shown no card at all, but who was also shown no mercy at all by Harry Kane, hitting the ball to the right of the keeper, as he dived to the left. Harry had again been assisted by sharp play by Lamela and Alli, who made the final pass. Alli won a corner on the left as he drove into the box from the left, and from the corner Rudd made a great double save from first Alderweireld (header) then Alli. Alderweireld had another headed chance from the corner on the right, but somehow put it the wrong side of Rudd’s left post.

After a Norwich corner and a cross by Odjidja-Ofoe, Jerome had a goal-bound shot deflected then well cleared by the Spurs defence, on their way to keeping their second consecutive clean sheet, and their seventh Premier League clean sheet of the season.

Spurs then doubled their lead with a great team goal, and a great finish by Kane. Dembele started it with a good winning tackle just in his own half, sending the ball to Lamela, with Alli again providing the all-important final pass for Kane who was at quite a sharp angle on the right. Harry scored with a great low right footed shot. It was his 27th league goal of the calendar year, breaking Teddy Sheringham’s Spurs Premier League record. Sometimes though, the record-keepers seem to forget there was football before the Premier League!

After the break, Dele Alli had a good shot well blocked by Ryan Bennett, and then Rudd was again busy, saving from both Alli and Lamela after good work on the right by Eriksen. Spurs made a break into the “Canaries”’ half after 62 minutes, with Eriksen and Alli offering a chance for Lamela, who hit a “rabona” shot which Rudd saved.

Norwich fans were baying at the other end when Jerome was in collision with the advancing Lloris. Clearly they wanted a penalty, but they got nothing. Lloris had been exposed by a slightly under-hit ball by Alderweireld. Tom Carroll replaced Eriksen on 72 minutes, and Norwich coach made a double substitution. With Norwich desperately trying to get something out of the game, Pochettino opted for a three-man midfield with Carroll alongside Dier and Dembele.

Lamela and Kane combined before Kane crossed giving Lamela a chance, but Rudd cleared. Eric Dier seemed to be harshly penalised for a foul on Norwich substitute Howson, and his subsequent booking may have been more for dissent than for the foul. Howson soon got booked himself for a foul on Ben Davies.

Dele Alli went off to a great ovation, when replaced by Son. One wag behind me called “Take Carroll off”, but would soon be eating his words, as Tom received a pass from Davies and hit a stunning goal from 25 yards which flew into the far corner and was unstoppable. That was some first Premier League goal! It was truly a Carroll stinger and a Christmas cracker!

There was a comedy of errors by Spurs after 83 minutes when no less than 4 Spurs players out-numbered one defender and the goalkeeper. Lamela was clear and should have scored, but I am sure that he wanted to offer Kane a hat-trick goal. Kane was well marked by the one defender, and Spurs ended up giving that chance away.

Hugo Lloris was celebrating his 29th birthday, and celebrated with an absolutely stunning double save from Mbokani and Jerome, although the second effort might have been offside anyway.

Dembele took a knock late in the game, and might be a worry for Monday’s game at Watford. He was replaced by Nacer Chadli. One reason for Spurs great success is the fact that they often attack the ball in midfield in pairs with a pincer movement to snap the ball away from an opponent. This manoeuvre was demonstrated a number of times yesterday to great effect, with Dembele often at the heart of such success.

Watford, who drew at Chelsea, will offer a great test, and Pochettino may need to rotate one or two of his key players. I expect to see Danny Rose at left back, but otherwise the starting line-up is your guess as much as mine.

The defeats of Leicester and Arsenal mean that the top four has compacted in our favour, and we are now three points and 11 goals clear of Man Utd. In fact, Crystal Palace offer a closer threat, as they are just two points behind. This is certainly an enjoyable ride in a really exciting Premier League season.

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