BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) NORWICH CITY 0(0)
Sigurdsson, 28, 49
Referee:- Mr. L. Mason
Assistants:- Mr. A. Garratt & Mr. D. Eaton
Fourth official:- Mr. D. Drysdale
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose; Paulinho, Dembele (sub Lamela, 83); Townsend, Eriksen (sub Holtby, 71), Sigurdsson (sub Sandro, 79); Soldado
Subs not used:- Friedel; Kaboul, Naughton; Defoe
Booked:- Lloris (Handling outside area)
Norwich (4-2-3-1):- Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong (Capt.), Garrido; Fer, Johnson (sub Howson, 64); Snodgrass, Elmander (sub Tettey, 74), Redmond (sub Pilkington, 74); van Wolfswinkel
Subs not used:- Bunn; Martin, Olsson; Hooper
Booked:- Johnson (foul on Soldado), Garrido (foul on Townsend), Elmander (foul on Rose)
Norwich impotent - Spurs dominant
It was very much a case of mission accomplished, and comfortably so today at White Hart Lane. We saw a great debut by Christian Eriksen, playing the central supplying role in the midfield three behind Soldado. Many were surprised that Gylfi Sigurdsson even started today, not least because he was reported to have returned from International duty with a dead leg. However, the Icelander not only played, but is a contender for man of the match, with his two goals, which gave Spurs the win.
The win was well deserved, and could easily have been more. 4-0 would not have flattered us. Sigurdsson was even denied a hat-trick by Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, who was definitely the busiest of the two keepers. I can't remember Lloris having a significant save to make. Norwich did have a shot on target though, but Paulinho blocked that, before confidently carrying the ball out of the area, and clear of danger.
Both teams played what is becoming a standard formation these days 4-2-3-1, and both teams have new personnel to bed into place. In Spurs' case today, Denmark's Christian Eriksen made his full debut, and looked at ease and at home from the outset. He is comfortable on the ball; has an eye for a pass, and a shot, and will be a big player for us this season, and hopefully beyond.
Gylfi Sigurdsson didn't have too much opportunity to shine last season, in his first year, and might even have been an understudy to Bale. Sigurdsson not only scored the two goals, but worked hard in all areas and was worthy of the accolade he received when replaced by Sandro late in the game.
Bale is well and truly in the past. Spurs have a team and a stronger squad for this season, and beyond. They played well today.
It is a great fillip to Andros Townsend that with all the newly signed talent available, he won selection again today. Andros gave a good account of himself too, obviously encouraged to shoot at will. There was no sign of Nacer Chadli, who we must assume has sustained a knock either while playing for Belgium, or since his return.
Norwich featured their ace signing and striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but he hardly had a look-in, although he did have good chances in both halves of the game. One was pushed wide. The other was blocked and cleared by Paulinho.
In the first minute, Soldado received the ball centrally, passing to Townsend, who got the ball inside to Sigurdsson, who hit a right foot effort over the bar. Two minutes later, Townsend tried a left footed shot that had power, but passed outside Ruddy's left post.
A good attempt at a pass inside the Norwich right back by Danny Rose failed, and Elmander broke with a run, ultimately hitting a weak shot at Lloris. Spurs might have taken the lead after 11 minutes, following excellent skill on the left inside the box by Eriksen, whose effort was saved. The ball fell to Soldado, who instantly back-heeled and hit the post.
Our defensive midfielders worked their way forward in tandem, and Dembele fed Paulinho, whose shot was on target, but was diverted for a corner. Norwich's defensive midfielder Bradley Johnson took an early booking for up-ending Roberto Soldado.
Danny Rose was fouled by Whittaker, who got no card, but words from referee Lee Mason. Eriksen was our dead ball man. His corner was blocked, before a second attempt also went for a corner. After good work by Dembele, Soldado had a shot well saved.
The first Spurs goal came in the 28th minute and was well deserved. Soldado fielded the cross from the left, and passed to Eriksen, who swiftly put in Sigurdsson, who of course had made he move in the right direction to receive the pass, and fire home with his right foot to the far post (Ruddy's left).
Townsend had one of innumerable shots held by the keeper, before the game entered a somewhat scrappy phase, as Norwich sought a foot-hold. This phase ended with good skill in the middle by Eriksen, and a combination on the right by Walker and Townsend, before the ball was fired to the back post and hit over.
England manager Roy Hodgson was in the crowd, and one assumes he was chiefly watching Walker, Rose and Townsend, but perhaps also the busy Norwich keeper.
Early in the second half, Dembele sent Eriksen away with a clever ball. The Dane went on a run before unleashing a shot from fully 22 yards, which passed over the bar. Spurs' second goal soon followed.
Paulinho was fully involved, working on the right with Townsend, but the final pass came after Townsend's exchange with Eriksen. The assist was Paulinho's, as he sent a powerful low ball to the back post, where Sigurdsson had an easy finish, that probably should have been better defended.
Norwich left back Garrido got a yellow card for a foul on Townsend. By this time the Norwich crowd cheered ironically if they got a decision off referee Lee Mason. In fairness, I would say he played a blinder for Spurs today, which is highly unusual for any referee, and especially Mr. Mason, who has not been a friend in the past. A game at Sunderland comes to mind, when he awarded our opponents two or three penalties in one game.
On the hour, Andros Townsend fed the ball to Kyle Walker, who made a run inside, before releasing it to Sigurdsson, whose right footed hat-trick attempt was well saved by Ruddy.
A low cross by Danny Rose led to a corner, before Soldado and Eriksen combined, and Eriksen gave Townsend a near ball inside the box. Townsend crossed, and there was panic in the defence, but another corner was all hat came from Spurs' efforts.
Soldado intercepted an attempted clearance and Eriksen passed to Paulinho, who teed up Townsend for yet another shot, which was saved.
Norwich were awarded a free kick and the referee had words with Danny Rose, in the presence of his Captain. Lloris half cleared the cross, and substitute Howson had a shot which was blocked and fell to van Wolfswinkel, who took too much time to get his shot in, enabling Paulinho to block and to carry the ball away from danger.
The game started to lose momentum, as Holtby, Sandro and Lamela replaced Eriksen, Sigurdsson and Dembele in turn. Spurs had done their job, and the only remaining drama came when Hugo Lloris went to catch a ball on the edge of his area, and apparently was booked for handball outside the box, when his momentum took him over the line. Lloris was yellow carded. Spurs cleared the danger, and preserved their clean sheet, making it three wins out of four.
With Liverpool not playing till Monday night, and Chelsea losing at Goodison Park, Spurs are second in the table at this early stage.
Sadly, the team ahead of us on goals scored is the one team we hate losing to most, who won 3-1 at Sunderland today.
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