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City v Tottenham
Hotspur (Kick off 16.00)
15.55 Here come the teams then. Chris Hughton’s last hurrah?
15.50 Hughton turns to youth to try and turn the season around. But
will their inexperience tell against an accomplished Spurs side?
Spot today’s geography lesson from Spurs boss Tim Sherwood following a midweek
trip to Ukraine – located somewhere between New Zealand and Australia it
seems: “Pressure is always there, we have to concentrate on what we
do. You expect Liverpool to win their home games. We’re going well away from
home and we hope to continue that today. It’s not much win, it’s not over if
we lose, but it will certainly feel like that. The travelling is a bit of a
slap, going across to the other side of the world, but we have to deal with
Chris Hughton on McNally’s comments: “Our level of performance has
been very good, but we need to turn that level of performance into points.
If you’re in the position that I am, you know you have a game today and you
want points, that’s at the forefront of our thoughts. We want to put in a
performance and give ourselves the best opportunity to pick up points. Our
focus is very much on today.”
15.45 Norwich bring back Van Wolfswinckel at the expense of Gary Hooper
hoping that the big-money purchase can score his first goal since day one.
Spurs hgave recalled Danny Rose and Michael Dawson in defence with former
Norwich loanee Kyle Naughton switching to right back.
Here’s Norwich chief executive David McNally, not really grasping this ‘vote
of confidence’ malarkey: “It would be almost delinquent of the football
club to not be aware of potential candidates if for any reason your manager
left. If results are not good enough you have to be aware of who is out
there to help. You look at the market and who might be right for Norwich
City. If we needed to make a change – and the average tenure of a Premier
League manager is about a year and a half, which puts Chris in the top six
or top eight longest serving right now – then if a change was necessary it
wouldn’t be a case of, who are the contenders? It would be a case of
reviewing what is required, where are we going and who is best placed to
take the club forward.”
15.30 Chris Hughton seems like a jolly nice fellow doesn’t he? All calm
reason and two-tone hair split exactly down the middle, not unlike Spurs’
away shirt you may notice.
And Norwich seem like a terrifically well run club – all sensible spending and
season ticket waiting lists. Sure, Delia Smith is prone to wandering onto
the pitch and having a bit of a “I’ll tell you something else an’ all…” rant
but who doesn’t do that from time to time at the football? And she hasn’t
been out there for a while now.
But Hughton, and Norwich, could have some serious issues over the next couple
They may look over their shoulder from their current position of seventeenth
with some degree of comfort. Fulham are apparently going to be too busy
carrying bags of bricks up and down snow-topped mountains in the middle of
the night for the next three months to dig themselves out of the pickle
they’re in, while Vincent Tan has very efficiently condemned Cardiff to an
inevitable Championship return with a spectacular January even fans of
Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers may deem a little extreme and odd.
Sunderland have shown plenty since Gus Poyet arrived, but a combination of
poor weather and extraordinary runs in both cup competitions mean that squad
of players has 756 games to play over the next two months which will surely
take a toll.
Looking up ahead Meticulous Mark and the Taffia at Stoke City could
potentially be roped in, and West Brom will find escape difficult while they
continue to insist on only turning up to play in the second half of matches.
But there’s a problem looming for the one-win-in-13 Canaries, who have only
scored once in their last four matches and even contrived to lose to Tan’s
Barmy Army recently… their last four matches are Liverpool at home (Luis
Suarez has 11 goals in his last four games against Norwich), Chelsea and
Manchester United away, and finally Arsenal at home.
It could effectively mean that Norwich’s season ends with their (sound the
cliché klaxon) crucial relegation six-pointer at Fulham on April 12 – last
time Norwich went there needing a result to avoid relegation they lost 6-0
(2004/05) and have been beaten 5-0, 3-0 and 2-1 on their subsequent trips to
Norwich have just seven matches to play before then and while there are plenty
of point-winning opportunities in that list – Stoke, Sunderland and West
Brom all at Carrow Road – there will surely be one or two concerned calls to
Up With The Partridge if points aren’t added to their total quickly. Former
Norwich favourite Malky Mackay loiters with intent…
15.15 So will it be Cesare Prandelli? Or Louis Van Gaal? Or somebody
else in charge of Spurs next season?
Come up with your own name by rooting through the life history of the current
White Hart Lane technical director Franco Baldini and picking out people who
have occasionally managed football teams and subsequently had brief
conversations with him in airport departure lounges. That plus that equals
potential new Tottenham manager.
But hang just a knee-jerking moment here, isn’t Tim Sherwood the Tottenham
manager? Wasn’t he given an eighteen month contract? Hasn’t he been doing
rather well? Yes indeed – fifth, three points shy of the Champions League
places, after a difficult first half to the season, one defeat from ten
Could it be that Sherwood was given an 18 month contract to try and ward off
that peculiar lethargy that seems to inflict teams who know the manager is
leaving at the end of the season? And if so, what exactly was the point of
that just to have several months of wild speculation about people Franco
Baldini met at a wedding once taking over from him at the end of the season?
And while Sherwood may indeed sound like somebody who might approach you in a
Lewisham pub with a cardboard box and ask if you’re “alright for shampoo”
why should there be any speculation anyway? What more can he do?
Or has this all been cooked up by the evil media? Is Sherwood actually safe
and staying for the duration after all? Questions about questions with
answers only known over time.
15.00 So as Norwich look to put distance between themselves and the
bottom three, and Tottenham attempt to push on for the Champions League
places, the teams line up like this…
Norwich: Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong (c), Olsson; Tettey, Johnson;
Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond; van Wolfswinkel.
Subs: Bunn (GK), Whittaker, Howson, Hooper, Pilkington, Hoolahan,
Spurs: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue, Bentaleb,
Paulinho; Lennon, Adebayor, Dembele.
Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Chadli, Eriksen, Townsend, Kane, Soldado.
City v Tottenham
Kick-off: 16.00 GMT.
TV: Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.
Norwich (Possible, 4-5-1): Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson;
Pilkington, Johnson, Fer, Tettey, Redmond; Hooper.
Out: E Bennett (knee), R Bennett (thigh), Gutiérrez (calf), Turner
Test: Howson (back).
Tottenham (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen,
Rose; Bentaleb, Dembélé; Lennon, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor.
Out: Sandro (calf), Lamela, Chiriches (both back).
Tests: Dembélé (ankle), Sigurdsson (thigh).
Referee: Craig Pawson. Matches: 7, R0 Y20.
Betting: Home 5-2, Away 21-20, Draw 23-10.
Norwich midfielder Jonny Howson could return from two months spent on the
sidelines with a back injury for Sunday’s home Premier League clash against
Neither on-loan winger Jonás Gutiérrez (calf) nor defender Ryan Bennett
(thigh) are match fit.
Centre-back Michael Turner (hamstring) and winger Elliott Bennett (knee) both
also continue their rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood is likely to welcome back a
number of first-team regulars.
With several players suffering from niggling injuries many did not travel for
the 1-0 Europa League defeat to Dnipro.
Most are expected to be available at Carrow Road with the likes of Hugo
Lloris, Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor in line to return.
Sandro, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches are all set to miss out once again.
Fulham’s decision to replace Rene Meulensteen leaves Norwich boss Chris
Hughton as the new leader of the Premier League sack race.
Norwich chief executive David McNally has admitted the club are already
considering alternatives to Hughton, who must avoid a heavy defeat to his
former club Tottenham.
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood has no such worries, but a third successive cup
defeat means the White Hart Lane club will be counting on their impressive
Premier League form to continue.
Stat of the game: If Tottenham win this match, they will equal their
best points tally after 27 games of a Premier League season (53 in 2011-12).
Matt Law’s prediction: Norwich City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2.
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