BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 1st SEPTEMBER, 2012
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) NORWICH CITY 1 (0)
Referee:- Mark Halsey
Assistants:- Mr. S. Ledger & Mr. R. Ganfield
Fourth Official:- Mr. T. Kettle
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Livermore, Sandro (sub Dembele, 46); Lennon, Sigurdsson (sub Adebayor, 56), Bale; Defoe (sub Huddlestone, 81)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Naughton, Caulker; Townsend
Booked:- Bale (dissent)
Sent off:- Huddlestone (88) - Dangerous play. (Rescinded on appeal to the FA)
Norwich (4-4-2):- Ruddy; Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington; Jackson (sub Morison, 72), Holt (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Rudd; Turner, Tierney, Surman, Hoolahan, Tettey
Who's your scapegoat?
Who is your scapegoat then, after Spurs have made their worst start for 4 years, or, erm, since the manager before Harry Redknapp?
Is it chairman Daniel Levy, who sacked Redknapp in the first place; who appointed Andre Villas-Boas; and whose typical brinkmanship, and late transfer business has led to yet another false start to the season.
Is it perhaps our new Head Coach, under whose leadership, Spurs have gained just two points in three games, without yet encountering the toughest of our opponents?
Or are you one of those who likes to seize upon the homegrown Spurs midfielder, Jake Livermore, whose challenge some allege was to blame for the Norwich equaliser, which ultimately came from the resulting free kick?
Not to worry, eh? We've got two weeks now to mend our nets and really get the new squad tuned into AVB's way of thinking. Oh, there's one one complication there. Most of the squad will be away on International duty until a week next Wednesday. DOH!
It's all going so swimmingly well so far, isn't it? We have got some decent new players, and one of them scored a fine debut goal today, but I suspect that the combined new talents will not fill the gaps left by the two marquee players that have left us. Of course, Modric was always leaving, and we had an inkling that Rafa would be going, but there were times today when we missed their skills and abilities.
Chris Hughton made an honourable return to White Hart Lane, and his charges gave an excellent account of themselves. They didn't come to defend, although their two banks of four did a good job. They had two up front, including the beefy and powerful captain, Grant Holt.
Norwich could have been two up at half time, had it not been for two excellent saves by Friedel, one of which also involved the crossbar.
Spurs failed to test Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy to any great degree, and to be honest, with Defoe on his own upfront, Spurs weren't big enough. Bale was often the one with a responsibility to win high balls, and he did show some clever touches.
Chris Hughton's preparations were surely enhanced by AVB playing the same pattern, with Sigurdsson the only change to last week's starting line up, replacing the transferred Van Der Vaart.
Norwich took the early initiative, and after a couple of minutes of their possession, Spurs made a break through Livermore's pass to Lennon, who passed inside after a run to Sigurdsson, who hit a right foot effort over the bar by a distance. Assou-Ekotto found Bale down the left flank with a good clearance. Bale and Sigurdsson tried to make progress through clever headers, but the ball ran out of play.
After a foul by Assou-Ekotto to concede a free kick, the ball was crossed from the left by former Leeds playmaker Snodgrass. Martin rose to head for goal, and it looked to me like Brad Friedel got a touch to push the ball onto the bar. Spurs responded with Sigurdsson crossing from the right, but no-one was there to receive.
Sandro led a good attack after 15 minutes, working with Defoe to get the ball out to Bale on the left, whose cross also failed to find feet. Another attack broke down when Defoe was forced off the ball.
Jackson ran away with the ball, crossing to Holt, whose header was held by Friedel. Another Norwich cross from the right gave Johnson a chance from 20 yards, But he fired over.
Spurs had a great chance deep inside the Norwich box, when Defoe oould have shot, but put the ball to he left for Lennon, who took the ball further away. The ball did come back inside for Sigurdsson, but there was no good effort on goal, when there had been such promise.
Bale had a great effort on goal , after Assou-Ekotto fed Bale, who hit a powerful shot which did force a save by Ruddy. Another attack ended with a shot by Sandro, but it was a simple pick-up for Ruddy. Spurs couldn't find the target from shots by Sandro and Defoe. Lennon had been the provider for Defoe.
At the other end, Norwich sent hearts racing again with a cross by Pilkington and a shot by Snodgrass forcing another great Friedel save.
Brad had to make another save from Gallas's too-powerful back header in the follow-up.
Spurs ended the half losing tempo, and it was good to see Dembele making his debut after the break, although the Livermore baiters might have been surprised it was Sandro who went off.
Walker was not utilised much going forward, but he did make an excellent early run, making his way across the outside of the Norwich area, feeding the ball to Assou-Ekotto. After a defensive error, Assou-Ekotto cut the ball back to Defoe, who in turn fed Sigurdsson, whose shot ran to the keeper.
Snodgrass crossed from the right and Holt should have scored but headed over. It should be mentioned that referee Mark Halsey was not popular, as he gave very little Spurs way or so much of the game. He liked to play the advantage, and once or twice pulled back play a little later than most liked. This did work for and against us, though.
Dembele and Defoe combined with headers in the middle, feeding Bale, who fired over.
Now Sigurdsson was replaced by Adebayor, who has now been given the number 10 shirt, worn last week by Rafa. Norwich new boy and former Spur Sebastien Bassong didn't like the decision to award a free kick for a foul on Defoe just outside the box. The kick was touched to Defoe, whose shot hit the wall and went for a corner.
Norwich had a spell of pressure, which led to some frantic Spurs defending, but shortly after that came Dembele's super debut goal.
Mousa was about 25 yards out towards the left side of the area, when he revived a pass back from Defoe, who was further out and further forward. Dembele twisted one way, then the other, then picked his spot inside Ruddy's left post.
Defoe was replaced by Tom Huddlestone, wearing his Afro hair. Tom is desperate to score a competitive goal, when he can have a hair cut, which is part of a charity fund raising effort. This move gave Spurs more height of course but it did no good when Norwich won a free kick on the right. The first cross was cleared, but not with any conviction, and a follow-up cross was put back into the middle from beyond the back post, falling to that man Snodgrass, who planted the ball to Friedel's left and into the net in front of the delirious away support.
Huddlestone had one chance to score that goal he needed, when Lennon fed him, but the shot went outside the left post. Bale got booked for dissent over a goal kick being given instead of a corner, and then things got worse for Big Tom, who got a straight red for a dangerous tackle in midfield on Howson. Tom had received a big cheer when he had replaced Defoe, and got muted cheers when he was obliged to leave the field. He'll have to wait at least three more Premier League games for that goal, although he could play the home Europa League game on September 20th against Lazio.(Red card rescinded on appeal to the FA, therefore no suspension)
Spurs had nothing more in the locker and in fact Johnson might have won it for Norwich had it not been for another good close-range save by Friedel.
See you at Reading then!
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