Norwich City (Away)
Sunday 26th December 2004
Spurs find themselves travelling up the M11 to meet the pride of Norfolk. Having drawn a blank in the first meeting this season, both teams have had a lot of changes since then.
Norwich have gone from draw to draw, picking up the one point here and there, but getting stuck with an odd goal defeat or being routed by four. Nigel Worthington will be looking for an improvement in the second half of the season to try and finish 17th as a minimum requirement. For Spurs, we have changed coach, brought in a different way of playing and introduced some more of the squad to the team making the team a more attractive proposition in the process.
That change in style might mean a more difficult game for Norwich than the one at White Hart Lane, as the opportunities are being created for Defoe and Kanoute and Robert Green and his defence will have to be on top form to keep them out again. They might be a bit shell-shocked after a four goal hammering at Chelsea last week and the keeper will have to be on his toes to foil the Tottenham attack. Adam Drury had been out of favour when we played them in September, but now is back in the fold at left back. Former Spurs Gary Doherty has played at centre-half and handed a penalty to the opposition recently, so, I am not sure if he will be able to cope against Defoe. Kanoute will most likely be up against Craig Fleming, who apparently, you will never beat, but the pace he had when an Oldham player (and that wasn't great) has faded, so might be struggling. Simon Charlton is an option and he has good experience from his time at Bolton and is a reliable stalwart, who plugs away and even got a goal for the first time in years recently. Marc Edworthy is the former Palace and Coventry defender, who has had a go at full back and without an appointed winger, he might find himself being pulled out of position.
Philip Mulryne will be missing with a groin injury, Gary Holt is out too with a chest problem and Damien Francis with a broken cheekbone. This leaves Thomas Helveg, who has failed to impress since his arrival from Inter Milan and Youssef Safri, another ex-Coventry player, who has not been the dominant force they had hoped. Darren Huckerby might be deployed behind the front two and his ability to run at defenders makes space for others and he can finish himself too. He could be joined in midfield by David Bentley, the Gooner on loan at Carrow Road for the season and was formerly a striker, but has operated deeper to slide passes through to the forwards.
It will be a blow that Mathias Svensson is out with a knee injury picked up last week against Fulham, while former Spurs man Paul McVeigh is being used from the bench. This will provide a chance for Leon McKenzie to take the lead and he is a player Tottenham were linked with when he was at Peterborough United. Fast and possessor of a fine shot, he might find Ledley King more than a match for his skills. Some youngsters feature in the squad with Ryan Jarvis one who is being hailed as the next big thing at Norwich.
With the injuries and the problems the side have had in making a dent in the Premiership points column, I feel Norwich might struggle in this match, with Spurs on a roll; although we know that is no guarantee of anything !! I think that the Canaries might survive come May, but without the aid of any contribution to their plight from Tottenham, who like to play at Carrow Road historically. With a few players keen to stake a claim for the side over Christmas and New Year, Spurs will be looking to press home their advantage of the confidence they currently possess ...
PREDICTION : - Norwich City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
NORWICH CITY : Mathias Svensson (knee); Damien Francis (cheekbone); Phil Mulryne (groin); Gary Holt (haemothorax); Ian Henderson
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Sean Davis (knee); Simon Davies (virus); Dean Richards (ear infection); Goran Bunjevcevic (calf);
|Norwich City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (Half-time score : 0-0)|
|Premier League||Venue : Carrow Road|
|Sunday 26th December 2004||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 24,508||Referee : M. Riley (Leeds)|
|Weather : Cold|
|Teams : -|
Jonson (McVeigh 40)
Kanoute (Defoe 71)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
Safri (foul) 43
|Match Report : -|
|A confident Spurs weathered a
first half storm to send the Canaries back to their perch without an
addition to their Christmas points total, while the trek back to London
was made more Merry by the warmth of a fifth consecutive win under the
The game started without Jermain Defoe, hat-trick hero of the last Spurs outing, but the return of Naybet and Edman strengthened the back four. It looked as though they would have a busy return to action in the first half, with Norwich seemingly intent on attacking the Tottenham goal at every possible occasion.
Spurs had pushed Atouba up into a midfield position to accommodate Edman, which allowed Thim to get forward and knock in some dangerous crosses, but unfortunately, there was never anyone on the edge of them. Norwich were also forced to make some changes, but theirs were during the first period, when they lost Charlton early on and later when old boy Paul McVeigh replaced the injured Jonson five minutes before half-time.
By then, Norwich could have been two up. A tenth minute move involved Huckerby setting up Bentley, who struck a 20 yard shot that left Robinson standing and the Spurs keeper was relieved to see the ball bounce back off the goalpost. Then Edworthy joined the attack to strike a short corner into the box, but Pedro Mendes got something on the ball that took it spinning wildly over the bar of the Spurs goal. Robinson watched a Jonson effort fly over, but had to be sharp to keep out another shot from the on loan Gooner Bentley.
With just over a quarter of an hour gone, Spurs finally threatened the Norwich goal, when Mendes put Keane in, but he stepped over the ball, leaving it to run to Kanoute, but he pulled his low shot a yard wide of Green's goal. Two minutes later, Tottenham were saved by Mendes' header that kept Doherty's header from Huckerby's free-kick out of the net. Then in a replay of the incident, but at the other end, Pamarot rose to head Carrick's free-kick, but the ball floated wide.
Norwich were using the pace of Huckerby and trying to get him matched up with Naybet, but often, he found Pamarot or Edman as the ones who he had to beat and did not manage to get away from them as easily. Tottenham's best opportunity of the half came when Doherty and Fleming hashed a clearance, leaving a high ball that Fredi won, but he failed to recognise that Robbie was best placed to score and then the opening was closed down. It was good to see Carrick pushing forward and be wiling to shoot, as he hit a 37th minute drive at the keeper, just after Keano had hit a shot over the top. Just before half-time, Spurs got out of jail when King tried to let the ball run back to Robbo, but McKenzie got in first and poked the ball over the Spurs keeper and towards the goal. Only the quick thinking of Naybet managed to get to the ball before it slowly ran over the goal-line.
It proved to be a turning point, with Norwich deserving to be in the lead, but failing to take the openings that came their way. This was also true of the second half, but in a reversal of fortunes, Spurs dominated possession and made it tell. McKenzie's header from Huckerby's corner was athletically touched onto the bar by Robinson in the 53rd minute and then Spurs broke away to the other end, but Kanoute could not reach Keane's pass that ran through to the keeper.
Spurs were now knocking the ball about confidently, with Atouba and Kanoute firing in shots that didn't trouble Green, but this was a precursor of things to come. Just after the hour, Mendes hit a volley from Keane's flick and Green was sharply down at his post to concede a corner. Atouba had taken a bit of a battering and finally was replaced by Ziegler in the 66th minute and the young Swiss midfielder struck a fine shot that went wide shortly after his introduction to the action.
Edman proved a vital return to the team, when he denied Huckerby an opening as he thought about shooting and from Robinson's clearance, Kanoute played in Mendes, who shot too high. It was end to end stuff now and it was a slight concern that Spurs had not made the most of the possession they had during the second half. All that was water under the bridge after Jermain Defoe came on for Kanoute. This was a bit of a surprise, as Robbie looked the lesser of the two strikers on the day, but it shows what we know, because form Ziegler's corner, Drury made a mess of clearing it and Keane was standing ten yards out in a central position to slam the ball low past Green.
It was all Spurs deserved in the second half, as they took control and within four minutes, the lethal finishing of the white-shirted players put them 2-0 ahead. Pamarot played the ball into Michael Brown and he exchanged passes with Robbie Keane. Taking the ball on a couple of strides, Brown smashed a curling drive past the Norwich goalie into the top corner. It was a fine finish and one that Brown has deserved for his efforts over the last couple of weeks.
As the home side pushed forward to get something back, McKenzie failed to hit the target with a free header, Defoe was defied by Green's legs at the other end, Helveg hit a 25 yard drive that Robinson had to grab at the second attempt and then the keeper got to Fleming's knock down before the Dane in the six yard box. As time ticked down, another old boy, Gary Doherty was on the end of a corner to nod a header wide of the mark and then came the final whistle that gave Spurs a record equalling fifth straight win in the Premiership.
Martin Jol has produced a winning run that has taken Spurs up the table, so that come the end of the year, we are in the top half. Now comes the difficult bit and the aim will have to be to push up further from there ! But, with this squad and the coach in place, it might just be a possibility you know !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MICHAEL BROWN
|CARROW ON WINNING|
|The way the Spurs team have taken
to Martin Jol's promptings is a real revelation and the results being
reaped on the pitch are the culmination of what goes on off the
pitch. A victory at Norwich was a tricky trip that once might have
ended in tears, but this win was earned by getting through a sticky
spell in the first half and going on to dominate in the second 45
It is a thin line between success and victory and the 5" thickness of the woodwork of the goal frame was that difference here. Twice Norwich struck that woodwork - once from Bentley, who hit a shot that didn't look that purposeful in his direction, but it smacked back off the post and McKenzie had a free header from a corner in the second half that Robinson just got a touch to as he deflected it onto the bar. The closest that Norwich came to breaching the Tottenham defence was in the final minute before the break, when King and Robinson conspired to fail to claim a through ball and in between them nipped Leon McKenzie to toe poke it beyond them. The ball bounced slowly towards goal and it was only the alertness of Noureddine Naybet and the speed in his old legs that managed to get him to to the ball just before it got to the line and he hooked it out and Edman smashed it into touch.
Robinson was in action too, saving from Bentley and Mendes was at the heart of the action, clearing a Doherty header when standing near the post and prior to that having sliced a low cross just over his own bar when it looked easier to hit it away.
Spurs had few clear cut chances in the first half, but after McKenzie's header, they took a grip on the match and made it their own. Holding possession in midfield and tightening up to prevent the breaks Norwich were making, Tottenham gained control and started to move forward.
The first goal came about from a slack piece of defending in the Norwich box from a Ziegler corner. Fleming headed the ball back into the goalmouth from the far post and Drury fluffed his clearance, leaving the ball to sit up for Robbie Keane to slam the ball into the net through two sets of Canaries legs. It was a comedy of errors by the home defenders, but when you are near the bottom of the table, that is the way things go for you.
It got worse for the Norwich team when Spurs created a good goal a few minutes later. Pamarot won the ball and his header went to Michael Brown, who played a one-two with Keano and took the ball on a yard or two. As he was unchallenged, he decided to fire in one of his trademark (or they were at Sheffield United) shots from 25 yards and it arrowed past Green, who didn't have a chance.
After that Spurs could have scored again near the end when Defoe came on and smacked a shot low, bringing Green's legs into action to keep the ball out.
This was a determined performance by Spurs that blossomed in the second period and the team selection by Jol was spot on. With the run of wins now extending to five for the first time in nearly eleven years, the team have belief in their ability to play in the solid way that the Dutchman wants them to, but with the attacking option on the break when away from home. While the run will not last forever, it is good to see the side giving the fans something to be happy about and is the hope that comes at New Year something that will finally come to fruition come the end of the season ?
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Blackburn Rovers||2||Newcastle United||2||Sunday|
|Manchester United||2||Bolton Wanderers||0||Sunday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Liverpool||5||Sunday|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||19||1||7||11||15||41||10||-26|
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