After the first international break of the season, a new look Tottenham side host Norwich City, as a new era at White Hart Lane starts without Gareth Bale.
Tottenham have had a good, yet not outstanding start to the season (2 wins and a loss in the league), and the large number of players recruited in the summer has been evident, especially in their attacking, which is why AVB has admitted that it may be too early for Spurs to challenge for the title.
Bar a defeat to 10-men Hull City, Norwich have also made a promising start to the season as well (1 in, 1 draw and a defeat). New signings Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer have already impressed, and as the season progresses the partnership between the forward line will continue to improve further.
Tottenham are yet to score a Premier League goal from open play, with both goals coming from a Soldado penalty, and a conversion rate of 3.8% so far this season shows they have struggled to penetrate the opposition box. This was evident in their last match against Arsenal where, despite having 57% possession and completing 432 passes (a surprising 135 more than Arsenal), the majority of passes into the box were uncompleted. Another example of this was against Crystal Palace on the opening weekend when Tottenham’s final third passes were predominately on either flank.
A big part of Tottenham’s attacking play in recent years has been through their wingers, and this has been noticeable in the games this season; but, against Arsenal, only 4 of their attempted 25 crosses were successful. The introduction of Eric Lamela, albeit from the bench, after a midweek international game in South America, could change this with the winger liking to cut inside to either shoot himself or feed the ball through between the defenders – something that suits the likes of Soldado and Defoe.
A noticeable weakness in the Tottenham side, however, will face the main strength of this Norwich side. I chose Robert Snodgrass as the key man for Norwich, but it could have been either Nathan Redmond or Anthony Pilkington thus is the quality of wingers that Norwich possess. Snodgrass and Redmond will most likely be the wingers that start the match, facing Danny Rose and Kyle Walker respectively.
Robert Snodgrass was arguably Norwich’s best attacking player last season and despite a year that saw Norwich only score 41 goals, less than relegated Reading and Wigan, Snodgrass created 67 chances (16 of which were clear cut chances) for his team mates, with only a return of only 6 assists. The Scottish international will hope to take advantage of Danny Rose, who has yet to convince all Tottenham fans that he is an upgrade on Assou Ekotto, and the close control and ability to dribble past opponents in difficult situations, that Snodgrass possesses, will force the young full back to put in an experienced performance.
Kyle Walker showed against Ukraine for England the other night that he struggled with a winger who runs at him with pace and likes to cut inside – this is Nathan Redmond’s game. Redmond has had a great start to the season, both for Norwich and England Under-21’s, and his ‘no fear’ attitude to driving at full backs and ability to use both feet has already helped Redmond to enforce his authority during games. His style of play may seem slightly selfish at times when other options are available, but the young winger will develop this as he gets more experienced and currently it is working into his favour as he scored his first Premier League goal against Southampton and helped Norwich to their first won of the season.
Tottenham welcome back players from international duty injury-free, and new signings set to feature for the first time. Villas-Boas has said that new signing Christian Eriksen has big possibility of playing against Norwich, but Vlad Chiriches is yet to finalise a work permit. The only doubt for Saturday’s game is Sigurdsson, who has a dead leg.
Martin Olsson looks set to return to the squad after missing out against Southampton, as well as Ryan Bennett and Gary Hooper, who are back in contention after recovering from injuries.
Since returning to the Premier League Norwich have found fortune on their travels to White Hart Lane, a 1-1 draw last season and a 2-1 victory the year before – and could have more luck this time around too. With some of the new arrivals only having a few days training together, Tottenham’s attacking line up may still be gelling and this will play into Norwich’s favour. Alongside this, Norwich’s approach to away games under Chris Hughton has been fairly conservative so far, so a bet of under 2.5 goals (at 1.935) looks good, with both league matches between the two sides finishing 1-1. Whilst a Norwich win (which is valued at 8.27) might be unlikely, a draw could be within their grasp and at 4.7 looks good for a risky bet.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich
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