Spurs vs Norwich
Last week’s encounter with West Brom didn’t go the way that Andre Villas-Boas, the boys and we were hoping. This Saturday, amidst Daniel Levy’s last minute trolley-dash to sign up the elite of European football, sees us face Norwich.
The Canaries were somewhat of a pest last season, chinning us 2-1 at home to throw a spanner in the works, during the race for third spot to finish above the Gooners.
What’s more, they were also the first team to really highlight the weakness in Andre Villas-Boas’ high line at Chelsea. The Canaries pounded AVB’s defence with balls over the top and in-behind the Blues’ back four that day. It showed the rest of the Premier League just how slow their defence was and how to defeat AVB’s pressing system.
This season sees a new-look Norwich with Chris Hughton in charge. The former Spurs man has changed the team, slightly, but their tactics even more so.
What can we expect?
Here are 5 keys to Spurs vs Norwich.
1. The direct ball out wide rather than the long ball
Norwich were a team primed on the long ball last season under Paul Lambert. They lead the Premier League in long balls played, with an average of 75 per match.
This season sees the Canaries playing just 62 long balls per match, the eighth highest in the Premier League.
The team does still look long to Grant Holt, as they did last season, but are now a lot more focussed on moving the ball wide through the midfield and then crossing.
Bradley Johnson and Jonathan Howson are the key men for doing this and have recorded the most touches of the ball for Norwich in their first two Premier League matches. If we look at Stats Zone, we can see both Johnson and Howson are looking to move the ball wide with short and long passes at every opportunity.
The midfield battle between Johnson and Howson and presumably Sandro and Dembele could prove a crucial area in where Spurs vs Norwich is won.
2. Norwich want to cross
Their only goal of the game last week came from one and the Canaries will be looking to put crosses in at every opportunity.
Last season Norwich were ranked sixth in the Premier League with 23 crosses attempted per match. This season, Chris Hughton is trying to get them to put more balls in to the box and has them attempting 26 a game. This now sees them ranked third among Premier League teams through their first two matches.
Against Fulham, they were on the back-foot after the Cottagers got out to a quick lead and only put in 22 crosses, completing five.
At home to QPR last week, they attempted 29 balls in to the box, completing 7, which included Simeon Jackson’s goal from Anthony Pilkington.
Spurs will have to be wary of Norwich looking to get the ball wide to Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington, stopping them is our next key.
3. We must stop Snodgrass and Pilkington
This season Norwich are trying to work the ball wide to put in crosses. Last weekend against QPR, Jackson scored a goal and Russell Martin hit the bar from crosses by Anthony Pilkington. On the other flank, Robert Snodgrass was also putting balls in to the box, whilst also blazing an unmarked header over from a cross by Javier Garrido.
Of Norwich’s 29 crosses in the game, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington provided 19 of them as Norwich look to get them the ball in wide areas.
The pair created 8 of Norwich’s 10 scoring chances in the game and all eight of them came from the flanks.
Spurs need to cut off the supply lie to them with Sandro and Dembele containing Jonathan Howson and Bradley Johnson. We’ll then require BAE and Kyle Walker to utilise their speed to cover Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass.
4. Spurs vs Norwich defence
Chris Hughton has looked to build up Norwich as a better defensive side and four clean sheets in pre-season hinted he was doing a good job.
All that was dispelled on opening day, as Norwich were humbled by Fulham. A five goal drubbing and a defence that looked anything like a cohesive unit, harked back to the side that kept just three clean sheets last season.
As we know, Sebastien Bassong is not so quick over the ground and he can get caught out of position, as he did in giving away a penalty for a foul on Djibril Cisse. His defensive partner Michael Turner is also quite slow and QPR did expose this in parts last weekend by turning the Norwich defence.
Rangers haven’t got off to the best start and still look like everyone is getting to know each other, as Mark Hughes signs an entire squad. However, on top of the penalty, they did get in behind Norwich down the inside right channel a further three times due to the lumbering centre backs.
Spurs have the pace from both Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon to exploit the slower centre backs. They also have a wily poacher who looks to get in behind the defence in Jermain Defoe as well. Emmanuel Adebayor will probably start as the lone striker up front, but Andre Villas-Boas has the option of Defoe in reserve.
5. Emmanuel Adebayor
Spurs have struggled up front so far this season and Emmanuel Adebayor could hold the key. We had 15 shots against Newcastle of which 4 were on target and 22 efforts against West Brom, of which 7 were on target.
Emmanuel Adebayor hit the target with 54% of his shots last season and so will provide some much needed accurate shooting. On top of this, Adebayor attempted 87 of his 100 shots last season in the box, part of the reason for his 17 goals.
Of our 37 shots at goal this season, only 15 have been in the box (40%), so the inclusion of Adebayor with his 87% of shots in the box could prove crucial.
The Togolese man will also help with his height due our increased tendency to cross this season. Under Harry Redknapp, we were putting in 20 crosses per match, this season under AVB, we have been attempting 24 balls in to the box per game.
So far, only 10 of 44 attempted crosses have been accurate, Emmanuel Adebayor’s height will help in this department with his 50% aerial duel win percentage.
In his first 28-minute spell of the season against West Brom, we can see how he only receives eight passes, but four are in the penalty area. Could this be a sign of some good things to come?
Expect Emmanuel Adebayor to get some quality chances in the box, especially if he can turn Michael Turner and Sebastien Bassong.
Andre Villas-Boas has seen the side put in some good performances for the first 60 minutes, and then we run out of steam due to the high-pressing system. This has allowed the opposition back in to the match and we’ve conceded two late goals in our first two matches.
Hopefully it won’t happen for a third time this weekend and we take the three points!
Spurs vs Norwich match prediction: Spurs 2 Norwich 1
What’s your prediction for Spurs vs Norwich?