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Norwich v Spurs, 23.02.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 23RD FEBRUARY, 2014
(4 PM)
NORWICH CITY 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Scorer:-
Snodgrass, 47

Attendance:- 26,834

Referee:- Mr. Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Mr. D. Bryan & Mr. S. Ledger
Fourth official:- Mr. J. Moss

Teams:-
Norwich (4-2-3-1):- Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong (Capt.), Olsson; Tettey, Johnson ; Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond (sub Hoolahan, 86); Van Wolfswinkel (sub Hooper, 72)

Subs not used:- Bunn; Whittaker; Howson, Pilkington, Elmander

Booked:- Ruddy (Time wasting)

Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Rose (sub Townsend, 82); Capoue (sub Chadli, 14); Dembele, Paulinho (sub Soldado, 65), Bentaleb, Lennon; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Friedel; Fryers; Eriksen; Kane

Booked:- Dembele (dissent), Vertonghen (foul on Hooper), Dawson (foul on Hooper)

Fighting for fifth then

It turns out the Tottenham Hotspur information machine is either not working properly, or those in charge are guilty of mis-information. Prior to the Europa League match this week, we were told that (amongst others) Walker and Kaboul hadn’t flown to Ukraine, because of “twinges”. Clearly those twinges must be more serious, because there was no sign of either today. As a result, the only change to the Spurs defence was Lloris for Friedel. Most, if not all of the back four could have done with relief, but to be honest, on the form shown today, none of them are good enough.

Too many of the Spurs team had been required in Ukraine. Capoue took an early knock and had to be replaced by Chadli. This led to Bentaleb being given the anchor role, whilst, once again a midfield four had the task of supporting Adebayor. The trouble was that Spurs failed to succeed in penetrating the Norwich midfield and defence, all of whom had very high energy levels, closing us down effectively, and usually beating us to the ball all over the park.

Norwich haven’t played since Tuesday 11th February, and the benefit of such a break showed. It didn’t explain Spurs’ lack of effort, desire, and in truth, ability to create enough to worry the home side. Spurs have now lost two consecutive games, without scoring, to teams coached by former employees of Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s win, thanks to a Bentaleb error; Rose’s failure to get goalside of Snodgrass, and Snodgrass’s fine finish is their first over Spurs in the Premier League at Carrow Road, and their first home league win for 23 years. Those of you who read my preview will already know that.

Defeat for Spurs surely means an end to any hope of Champions League football for yet another season, and leaves us fighting to hold onto fifth place, for yet another season of second rate European football. Never mind. That’s our level, and we fans should not keep raising our hopes un-realistically.

The match was preceded by well-earnt, and well observed respect for the late Sir Tom Finney. Now there was a footballer, and there was a gentleman. He knew a bit about hard work too.

For some reason, during the game, with Glenn Hoddle apparently in the Sky studio, Norwich fans chose to regale him with offensive chanting (Hoddle, Hoddle you’re a "SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY"). I don’t know quite why Glenn deserved such abuse, and couldn’t find a Norwich fan who did know either.

There wasn’t too much decent action worthy of mention in the first half. Lloris managed to pick up the ball after an early Norwich corner, and a few bounces and scrapes inside the Spurs area. Lennon pierced the Norwich defence with an excellent ball to Dembele, who failed to anticipate and collect the pass. After Chadli’s insertion, he started on the right, but soon switched with Lennon, although Aaron would be found across the park, and not as often as I would have liked on the wing!

Spurs had a decent move midway through the half, thanks to work by Adebayor; passes by Dembele and Chadli, and a final right footed shot by Paulinho, which passed harmlessly over the target. I found myself applauding effort in the midfield and skill by Bentaleb, Dembele, and Lennon, but was not so astounded by Paulinho, who, as I have asserted before, is playing within himself in preparation for Brazil this summer.

Bentaleb saved Dawson’s blushes with a good block, after Snodgrass had beaten our Michael. We all love Michael Dawson to pieces, but more and more fans are recognising his frailties as a defender. Occasionally, I found him guilty of schoolboy defending, with thoughtless and mis-placed passes or clearances. Then there is his vulnerability on the turn. In another move, it looked like Vertonghen came to Dawson’s rescue. Lennon won applause for helping out the out-numbered Spurs defence, with a valiant and effective chase back to win the ball.

The game changed within two minutes of the re-start. Bentaleb lost the ball in midfield, and Norwich broke with speed, leaving Danny Rose trailing behind Snodgrass. I thought Snodgrass’s shot took a touch off Rose, but it beat Lloris.

It was quite a while before Spurs managed to put any pressure on the Norwich defence. Adebayor nearly took advantage of a mistake, and was one on one with Ruddy, who bravely won the battle for the ball. Adebayor then had a chance, after being fed the ball by Dembele, exchanging with Paulinho, but then being beaten to the ball by the Norwich keeper. Paulinho was replaced by Soldado, and Spurs reverted to a traditional 4-4-2. The game opened up.

Lennon passed to Adebayor, who teed up Soldado soon after his arrival. Soldado hit a right foot shot, but into the side netting. Soldado then headed wide of the far post after Chadli and Lennon fed him the ball. Chadli crossed from the left, but Adebayor also headed wide.

Vertonghen saw yellow for a foul, and Snodgrass’s free kick whistled past the post. After a Spurs free kick, Dembele put in a very good pass for Chadli, who was one on one, but again the Norwich keeper came out with the ball. Johnson hit a rocket of a free kick from the right which hit the underside of the bar and bounced out. Lloris had been well beaten this time. Lloris made a great save in the aftermath from Redmond, diving to his right.

Townsend had replaced Danny Rose, but to be honest, had little effect upon proceedings. Chadli had a couple of half-chances in added time, but Spurs were never really going to score today. In fact, they didn’t!

The win for Norwich was so vital in their fight against relegation, giving them a precious four point gap above the bottom three. Spurs now trail high scoring Liverpool by six points. The top four remain in the title race. We all know that Spurs are not good enough for that race, nor the top four.

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