Tottenham are welcoming Norwich City to North London this weekend, as they attempt to continue their positive momentum under Antonio Conte. It has been an encouraging start to life under the Italian manager, as they have yet to lose a Premier League match. However, Dean Smith has yet to taste defeat as Norwich manager, therefore this won’t be as easy for the home side as it would have been a few weeks ago. These sides have completely different aims, but they each have momentum to take into Sunday.
The Europa Conference League matches have shown the task ahead for Antonio Conte, as he can’t trust those outside of his starting eleven. There will need to be rotation over the coming weeks, due to the festive schedule. He may choose this weekend as an opportunity to rest a couple of key players. Tottenham are now within two points of the Champions League places. It would be a remarkable achievement for Spurs to finish in the top four, but now they have a world class manager, they have a chance.
Norwich were written off at the start of the season, but they have made a great managerial appointment. Dean Smith managed to stabilise Aston Villa in the top flight and he will be looking to do the same with the Canaries. They have been unbeaten in their last four matches, three of which were taken by Smith. Their poor goal difference means that they will need to make up an extra point to get out of the bottom three, but they are just three points behind Watford in 17th. It is within their grasp and Smith will be hoping to continue their positive momentum on Sunday.
Tottenham have only scored 13 goals in the Premier League this season. Only Norwich and Wolves have scored fewer.
Norwich’s four match unbeaten run in the Premier League is their best run of form in the competition since February 2013.
It has been a really challenging start to the season for Harry Kane, after a summer filled with speculation about his future. He has struggled to get back to his best form for Tottenham, but there has been a marked step up in his work rate under Conte. The Italian head coach won’t accept less than complete effort and he is getting that from Kane. The next challenge is to improve his output in the final third. Norwich have been a good opposition for the England captain throughout his career. He has scored five goals in three appearances against the club he once spent time with on loan. Kane won’t have lost belief in his own ability during this difficult run and he will see the festive period as an opportunity to remind people of his goal-scoring prowess. That could begin with a starring display on Sunday.
There was difficulty understanding why Billy Gilmour wasn’t getting into the team under Daniel Farke. It was seen as a coup when Norwich managed to sign him on loan for the season and he is now being given the prominence that his talent deserves. Dean Smith clearly believes that he is key in helping the team stay up. During the draw against Newcastle, he was the player that the team looked towards to inject speed into their passing game. His set piece delivery is excellent and that could be crucial on Sunday, as Norwich may struggle to create many chances in open play. Chelsea will be watching him closely and his performances against other traditional top six teams will be important in determining his long term future.
Giovani lo Celso will be missing for the home side, while Cristian Romero won’t be available until the New Year. It will be interesting to see if Conte does rotate this weekend, as it is a good opportunity to do so. Their postponed fixture against Burnley may mean there isn’t as much need for him to do so.
Mathias Normann won’t be missing for too long, but he won’t be back to start this weekend. Milot Rashica has been ruled out for a month, which is a huge blow. Todd Cantwell is back in contention after missing the trip to Newcastle.
It has been an excellent start for Antonio Conte in the Premier League. the fixture list has been kind, but he will be pleased to build some positive momentum. Although Norwich have showed some improvements under Dean Smith, they are still one of the favourites for relegation and it would be a surprise to see them get something from the weekend. A comfortable home win is on the cards.
Tottenham 3-0 Norwich City