After losing in the FA Cup at the weekend, Andre Villas-Boas and the boys are back in action in the Premier League, as we travel to Carrow Road for Norwich vs Spurs.
The Canaries swooped in to steal a point when we met them at the start of the season, as it finished Spurs 1 Norwich 1. Then there was the Capital One Cup defeat, where we had again looked in control for much of the match, before conceding late once more.
It was a nasty habit we had, but now we are scoring goals rather than allowing them late in matches.
So, what should be the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs this time?
Stop Norwich crossing
A feature of the matches between Norwich and Spurs has been the Canaries reliance on crossing.
In the 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, Norwich only had 38% possession in the match, yet they still put 20 balls in to the box, including the one that lead to their goal. In the Capital One Cup tie, both their strikes arrived after crosses; one from a corner, the other from a free kick.
Norwich have continued in the same vain throughout the season with low amounts of possession, but a high number of crosses equivalent to their time on the ball.
They’ve had just 43% possession in matches overall and this doesn’t vary depending on whether they are home or away. Despite this meagre amount, they still manage to attempt 22 crosses per match.
Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass are the chief suppliers of balls in to the box, but the service starts with Alexander Tettey and Bradley Johnson. These two in the middle of Norwich’s midfield four shift the ball out wide at every opportunity. They favour Snodgrass on the right, but also move it to Pilkington on the left.
If we take a look at Norwich’s last home match with Newcastle, we can see how both of them play the ball out square and diagonally to the wide-men, particularly Tettey.
The Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs here should be to cut the supply off at source to stop these two passing it wide, by pressing them in the midfield zone.
The former Leeds man is the main threat to supply chances once the ball is shifted wide from the centre of midfield. He was a constant thorn in our side back in September at the Lane and will prove to be Norwich’s main outlet here.
He is predominantly left footed, so playing on the right, he receives the ball wide, but then likes to cut inside to cross. If we look at Norwich’s recent home match with Man City, we can see just this. He hugs the touchline, then comes inside at the corner of the area, delivering crosses from further up the pitch.
Norwich favour attacking 42% of the time down Snodgrass’ right flank; compared to just 30% through Anthony Pilkington on the left – WhoScored.com.
The Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs here need to focus on stopping the former Leeds man coming inside on to his stronger foot to cross. Benoit Assou-Ekotto or Kyle Naughton may do well to force him down the line to keep him on his less-trusty right.
Norwich concede chances through the middle
Norwich create a lot of their chances from wide areas, but concede opportunities through the middle.
Their centre back pairing of Michael Turner and Sebastien Bassong are strong in the air, but quite immobile on the deck. Consequently, teams have had success by breaking them down through the centre.
We can see just this from their last two matches with Liverpool and Newcastle. The Reds created a number of opportunities by playing through balls in behind the Norwich defence – Luis Suarez’s goal for example. Newcastle, whistle not generating much at all, did fashion a couple of chances through the centre.
The main area of weakness is the inside right channel in between Sebastien Bassong and full back Javier Garrido, where both teams found success.
The Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs should see us look to turn their centre back pairing. AVB very much focuses on getting us to build attacks by hitting passes in to runners cutting inside through the opposition defence. Aaron Lennon may have some joy getting in down this channel from his right-sided position. If Lewis Holtby makes his debut, he has the talent to supply the passes.
Holt or Jackson?
Norwich were a long ball team last season and have been to a certain extent in this campaign. The difference on how much they rely on the long ball has been the inclusion of Grant Holt.
Last term, Paul Lambert went with either Holt or Steve Morison and hit them with long balls accordingly as both were good in the air. This season, Chris Hughton has again opted to utilise Holt’s ability to win headers and hold the ball up when he has been in the team. However, when the Englishman is not in the side, the Canaries have used Simeon Jackson’s pace through the channels.
Grant Holt will probably start, so the Tottenham tactics for Norwich vs Spurs should be to go with Michael Dawson for his aerial ability to challenge the Canaries’ front man.
Norwich vs Spurs outlook
Norwich are struggling at the minute, but will draw solace from their 2-1 League Cup victory over us at Carrow Road and the 1-1 draw at the Lane.
They are a major threat to create something from crosses, with all three of their goals in the games between us this season arriving in this fashion. Their late strike at the Lane started with a cross from Anthony Pilkington. Their first in the Capital One Cup tie came from a Snodgrass corner and their winner from a free kick delivered by the same man.
Andre Villas-Boas is fully aware of the results in our recent games with the Canaries and is looking to put that right.
“Norwich have also had some good results against us recently and I think this can inspire us. It’s something we’re aware of and the players will react to it.”
Robert Snodgrass will once again be their main supply threat from crosses, but we can’t relax on set pieces either. Half of Norwich’s 24 goals in the Premier League this season have come via crosses from corners or free kicks, so we must be fully switched on to this.
They can be got at through the centre though, Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner are robust in the air, but slow over the ground, which has proved their undoing.
The Canaries have always caused us problems, but could Norwich vs Spurs for the third time this season be the lucky one for Tottenham?
Norwich vs Spurs prediction: Norwich 1 Spurs 2