Tottenham played two of the promoted teams at White Hart Lane in quick succession. Much like Swansea who had left empty handed in Tottenham’s previous home game, Paul Lambert and his Norwich team have rightly earned a number of plaudits this season.
Swansea seem to have had more media attention, and their flowing passing football has been praised from all quarters. Norwich, have also had a great season but their progress seems to have gone under the radar when you compare them to the coverage that Brendon Rodgers and his Swansea team have enjoyed.
It was interesting to see while Redknapp lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Swansea, a formation that has worked reasonably well in previous games – he opted for a 4-4-2 against Norwich. The formation against Swansea ensured that we matched them in midfield and protected the back 4. We pressed high up the pitch and ensured their more creative players did not have time on the ball. In essence, Redknapp showed Swansea a great deal of respect. Some would even go as far to say as we showed them too much respect and should have gone with a more attacking formation at home but Redknapp’s tactics prevailed and Tottenham went on to win the game 3-1.
In stark contrast, Redknapp clearly took the view of the pundits and didn’t see Norwich as being as much of a threat as Swansea – lining up with a 4-4-2 formation. A formation that aside from a convincing win at home to Newcastle, hasn’t worked for Tottenham. After the game, Redknapp admitted himself that Tottenham did look comfortable in a 4-4-2. He even acknowledged that he thought we would be overrun in a 4-4-2 which begs the question why he opted for the formation in the first place and didn’t make the necessary changes when this became even more obvious. Playing with Saha and Defoe up front, neither was dropping back into midfield to make up the numbers – something we miss when Van der Vaart is not in the team.
Norwich were superb and bossed the game from start to finish. They created chances, pressed us all over the pitch and deservedly took all 3 points. Holt and Wilbraham were a handful for the Spurs defence and King especially seemed unable to handle the powerful Holt. Ledley has been a superb servant to Spurs and has put in some exceptional performances this season. There are only so many games someone who doesn’t train can play, and King looked well off the pace. As much as it pains me to say it, recent performances suggest that he is no longer an automatic starter when he is fit. There was a time when if King played, Tottenham won, but this has been far from the truth in recent weeks. Against Norwich he was lucky not to give away a penalty and receive his marching orders for hauling down Holt just before Defoe equalised.
The stats below look at how effectively Norwich were able to press and not allow us to play a fluid passing game. Each of the midfield 4 failed to achieve an 80% passing accuracy in the opposition half. Bale who was poor in possession had the worst accuracy at 46%. The main playmaker Modric was not allowed time on the ball and his passing accuracy in the opposition half was only 72% – well below his season average of 82%
Redknapp may have expected Norwich to come to the Lane and sit back and defend – leaving it up to Tottenham to attack and create the chances. This is certainly not what Norwich did and they could have won by a far greater margin.
With 5 league games to go, Redknapp is going to have to motivate his players and make sure he gets his tactics spot on to stop the season ending in massive disappointment.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.