Tottenham tactics: Norwich vs Spurs preview (a)

After a long Europa League trip to the Ukraine, Sunday sees us back in Premier League action with Norwich vs Spurs at Carrow Road.

It’s always a tough game aginst the Canaries and it’s not helped by them fighting it out in the midst of a relegation battle. They’ve also been solid at home, not conceding in their last three Premier League matches in front of their own fans.

So what can we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs this time?

Norwich set up and style

Chris Hughton was setting his side up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, but in recent weeks has changed to a 4-2-3-1. This has seen Norwich’s tactics and style change quite dramatically.

In the former formation he opts for one striker playing off another, rather than the classic number ten working behind a number nine. The system is designed to make maximum use of the two wingers, with the ball being moved out to them at every opportunity to cross.

As a result of the dual strikers and crossing set up, the ball is moved up to the final third quickly and more directly from the back. This can often see it go straight out in to the wide areas, just as it did against Newcastle a couple of home matches ago. Note how the play rarely moves down the centre, as that is a large difference to the new 4-2-3-1 system.


Norwich final third passes against Newcastle.

Without the ball, Norwich drop off and make themselves very compact and narrow to play through. They are content to congest the centre in an attempt to force teams wide, where they can use the height of their centre backs and midfielders to clear.


Norwich ball recoveries against Newcastle.

The 4-2-3-1 formation used in the last couple of games has seen them play in an opposite manner.

The system now has the three advanced midfield players operating much narrower, as quicker players in Redmond and Snodgrass have flanked Leroy Fer.

As such, the Canaries still cross, but now go a lot more through the centre. Their final third passing last time out against West Ham saw them attack the middle and create a number of opportunities indicated by the light blue lines.


Norwich final third passes against West Ham.

Their attitude without the ball has changed as well. Rather than drop off and play in a compact shape, they now press with the advanced midfielders and striker. The two players at the base of the midfield and the back four drop deeper to create two ball recovery zones.


Nowrich ball recoveries against West Ham.

Chris Hughton has only switched to this new formation in the last couple of matches, so we won’t know which one he decides to use until the team sheets are handed in.

Seeing Johan Elmander or Ricky van Wolfswinkel along with Gary Hooper will indicate the former. Alexander Tettey with only one striker points to the latter.

This will make the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs quite different as to how Norwich will play, but also how best to attack them.

How Norwich create chances

In both set ups, Norwich use the long ball to move play forward quickly, whether this be directly up to Gary Hooper or out wide to Robert Snodgrass. The Scottish winger is the main focal point to run the attack, but his role changes depending on the formation.

In the 4-4-1-1 set up, he plays wide and hugs the touchline, looking to receive the ball and beat his man off the dribble. The play is usually moved up the line to him from the full back or out from central midfield, but can also be shifted directly from the goalkeeper.


Robert Snodgrass passes received, Norwich 0 Newcastle 0.

Once in the final third, he can cut back on to his favoured left foot and look to cross. Anthony Pilkington does the same from the left flank and is equally as capable as the Scot at picking out a good ball in to the box.

In the 4-2-3-1 set up, Snodgrass has much more licence to roam. He still plays wide, as his game is about dribbling and delivery of quality crosses, but now he can surge through the middle or switch sides with his opposite number.


Robert Snodgrass passes received, West Ham 2 Norwich 0.

Against West Ham last week he frequently came inside and it resulted in him having the best chance of the match. Nathan Redmond lobbed the ball over the top for him to run on to, but Adrian pulled off an excellent save in the West Ham goal.


Redmond finds Snodgrass through the centre.

Norwich still created from wide areas as is their forte, but as we saw in the final third passing above, they now have a threat through the middle.

After the interval, Gary Hooper also had a great chance as Bradley Johnson released him through the centre this time.


Johnson hits Hooper with a through pass.

Alexander Tettey also saw his exchange of passes down the middle and subsequent drive palmed behind for a corner.

Norwich are not just about the crossing and set piece delivery anymore and now have a genuine threat through the middle and to run in-behind. Again the team-sheets will give a greater clue as to how they will set up and the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs should be adjusted accordingly.

How Norwich concede chances

Norwich concede chances in different ways depending on their formation.

As we saw above, the 4-4-1-1 set up sees them try to defend deeper and be more compact to force teams to the outside. Their centre backs are big and good in the air, but they can be got at on the ground.

We did just this at the Lane in Spurs 2 Norwich 0, where Gylfi Sigurdsson burst through the inside left channel to score.


Gylfi Sigurdsson charges through the inside left channel.

Paulinho then got in through the inside right channel to lay the ball across to Sigurdsson to add a second.


Eriksen finds Paulinho in-behind to square.

In that game, Andre Villas-Boas had us set up to jam Robert Snodgrass down the right flank. The combination of Rose and Sigurdsson did this, forcing Norwich back on their favoured attacking side.


Spurs ball recoveries, Tottenham 2 Norwich 0.

More recently, Manchester United were the last team to beat Norwich at Carrow Road in the Premier League. They too contained the Norwich right side.


Man Utd ball recoveries away to Norwich.

When attacking, they fashioned chances through the centre, with Danny Welbeck scoring throug the inside right channel.


Man Utd chances created away to Norwich.

Against Norwich’s 4-2-3-1 set up, the chances through the middle are still there, but they are better protected through the use of Tettey and Johnson in front of the back four.

However, what they gain with the three advanced midfielders having more of a threat going forward through the centre, they give up defensively in the full back zones.

As such, the full backs are now more often left 1v1 and can be got at. West Ham scored their opener from the Norwich right back zone, whereas Man City frequently got in behind both full backs.


Man City chances created against Norwich.

The Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs need to see us go at the slow centre backs if they line up in a 4-4-1-1. If they go 4-2-3-1 then attacking the full backs will be the order of the day.

Norwich vs Spurs outlook

Norwich have been a tough opponent at home all season, holding their last three visitors to Carrow Road goalless.

The team news that we”ll have the players who didn’t travel to Dnipro fresh and available is a major plus.

Depending on which formation Chris Hughton uses will need to see a different approach for Norwch vs Spurs here. The direct ball to move play quickly from back to front will still be there, as will the crossing. The threat through the centre from midfield runners will vary depending on which system Hughton opts for.

The choice of our wide men will be pivotal in this game and players that can change would be a good choice. Thus they can either be deployed as a natural winger against 4-2-3-1 or switch sides to come inside off their flank and attack the centre backs against 4-4-1-1, which may be the difference here.

Norwich vs Spurs prediction: Norwich 0 Spurs 1.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , ,

2 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Norwich vs Spurs preview (a)

  1. AnythingButPenalties 22nd February 2014 at 7:46 am #

    Great analysis. I hope Sherwood reads your blog!

    Snodgrass seems the dangerman for them.

    I was hoping we would play Kaboul and Vertonghen again at centre back, but maybe Dawson would be useful against an attack centred on big men and crosses?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd February 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Haha, maybe he will one day ;)

      Either would be ok here as Kaboul is a presence in the air as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him given the nod seeing as he didn’t travel to Ukraine and his last game was 10 days ago.