Norwich controlled the first half and a switch by AVB at half time meant Tottenham dominated the second, as it finished Norwich 1 Spurs 1 at Carrow Road.
Andre Villas-Boas brought Jermain Defoe and Moussa Dembele back in to the starting line-up. At the back, Kyle Walker returned on the right whilst Michael Dawson partnered Jan Vertonghen in the centre.
This was a game decided by two wingers in Robert Snodgrass and Gareth Bale, as both teams played to their strengths.
Norwich look to cross through Snodgrass
As looked at in the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs, the Canaries enjoy relatively little of the ball, but look to cross at every opportunity. This game was no different; Chris Hughton went with Grant Holt up front as a target man, with Robert Snodgrass supplying the balls in to the box.
Norwich only had 43% possession across the match, but were efficient in their use of it in the first half. As predicted, they were cycling the ball out to Robert Snodgrass through the midfield duo of Bradley Johnson and Alexander Tettey. Right back Russell Martin was also looking to feed play up the line to the winger at every opportunity.
As a result the Canaries put in 20 crosses during the match, 17 of which came from Snodgrass’ right side.
Robert Snodgrass creates their goal
Predictably with Norwich heavily favouring the right side to attack, their goal naturally arrived from here through a dangerous cross from Robert Snodgrass.
The former Leeds man started the move by playing it out to Russell Martin and driving forward down the flank. The Canaries’ right back then played the ball up the line to exploit his run and in behind Benni towards the corner flag.
Usually Snodgrass cuts inside on to his left, but with the ball running away, wrapped his right foot around it. The cross arced towards the far post and looked to be drifting out for a corner, before Grant Holt headed it back towards Anthony Pilkington from the by-line. His square ball picked out the arriving Wes Hoolahan who side-footed home.
The goal was one of Norwich’s two shots in the box all evening, but was created by a Snodgrass cross.
AVB sets Bale free
It seems quite the vogue thing to double up on Gareth Bale and Norwich were the latest team to attempt to stop him playing.
The Welshman had a quiet first half on the left, as a combination of Norwich pressing through Robert Snodgrass, Alexander Tettey and Russell Martin stifled his presence.
At half time, in a move reminiscent of last season at Carrow Road, where the Welshman was afforded the chance to drift in to the middle and scored twice. AVB tinkered with the tactics, allowing Bale to move in to the centre again, particularly to roam the inside right channel.
He received more of the ball and had a growing effect on the game. As we looked at in the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs, this channel is where the Canaries have been particular vulnerable to conceding chances this season.
It was apt that we were able to equalise by attacking through here.
Spurs score against Norwich’s weakness
With Gareth Bale given the opportunity to drift inside, it was no surprise to see our goal come through play in this central zone after the switch.
The strike followed a magnificent driving run, straight through the inside right channel, right at the heart of Norwich’s weak point in defence.
Gareth Bale will get the plaudits for another spectacular run and finish at Carrow Road, but credit also goes to Jermain Defoe and Lewis Holtby for their build-up play.
Benni played a difficult bouncing ball in to Holtby, which he beautifully flicked round the corner to Defoe. Jermain then unselfishly laid it in to the path of the streaking Welshman, who scored after a driving run started by a quick transition in play.
We’ve seen goals from several Spurs players this season after the ball has been swiftly moved to a driving runner from deep, who then surges at an off balance defence.
Gareth Bale has particularly benefited from this AVB tactic of hitting from a quick transition, most notably at Old Trafford, Villa Park and also the Emirates. It was good to see us profit once again from one here, as he levelled the scores up.
Norwich 1 Spurs 1 conclusions
This was a game that sort of went the way we thought it would. Norwich conceded possession, but were very efficient in their use of it, by looking to shift it wide and cross at every opportunity. Spurs were able to strike through the inside right channel where Norwich have conceded the majority of chances against them.
Their goal arrived from a cross and the fact that they were trying to restrict Gareth Bale, meant that they controlled the game before the interval. Spurs first reasonable effort at goal took 40 minutes to arrive, as Defoe’s shot was parried by goalkeeper Mark Bunn, but bounced over the heads of Bale and Dempsey.
The tactical shift to move Gareth Bale away from the doubling defenders very much set him and also Spurs free after half time. Norwich were put more on the back foot and after just three shots in the first period, we took ten in the second, levelling the game up.
Andre Villas-Boas naturally said that the players made the difference in the second half, rather than his tactical shift to move Bale inside. This is a feature of AVB interviews where he always gives credit to the team.
“At half-time the players recognised that they wanted to change their attitude and they really made the difference in the second half.”
We could have won it at the death, as Gylfi Sigurdsson was denied a confidence-boosting goal by a tremendous save on the stretch by Mark Bunn. Overall a draw and a share of the points was a fair result.