Norwich: Rudd, Pinto, Klose, Bassong, Brady, Howson, Dorrans, Redmond, Naismith, Hoolahan, Bamford
Tottenham: Lloris, Trippier Alderweireld, Vimmer, Rose, Dier, Dembélé, Lamela, Erikson, Alli, Kane
In the Premier League this season where nothing is certain and the stakes are so high, the January transfer window has seen a tale of two halves of the table. The great quandary of stick or twist has seen the players with the short stacks roll the dice, as teams who might see themselves in a relegation scrap sought to improve their chances of reaping the rewards of the TV cash cow of next season. Norwich undoubtedly fall amongst the chancer’s post-January window.
Two points above the relegation and with the second worse defence in the league, it isn’t perhaps hard to see where Norwich’s problems lie on first glance but this record is somewhat eschewed by the last 3 games alone. Conceding 11 goals in their last 3 games, including the 5 against Liverpool in their last outing in the Premier League, Norwich and Alex Neil would have appreciated a little time away from the relegation battle front line. The signings of Ivo Pinto and Timm Klose are with a view to shoring up the backline, and if both play this weekend, then a tough test will be instore against the continually impressive Tottenham front line. The signings of Steven Naismith and Patrick Bamford however will be a great boost, and if given game time the signing in particular of Bamford could be the shot in the arm that Norwich need to stay up.
If Norwich represent a group of clubs who have gambled in a bid to retain their Premier League status, the stasis of Tottenham in the transfer window is baffling. Whilst players such as Fazio have been allowed to leave (albeit temporarily), it beggars belief as to why Pochettino never sought to bring up back up for Harry Kane. 5 points off the top of the league come the start of February, surely Spurs fans must be sat at home and thinking just maybe… Tottenham still have to go to the Etihad and welcome Arsenal back to White Hart Lane, and yes there are other tough games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United but the one thing we know from this season so far is to expect the unexpected. Whilst I admire Pochettino’s emphasis on promotion from within, what if Harry Kane gets injured? What if a second striker would have helped ease the burden off the young Englishman’s shoulders or provided cover in a game where he had a knock? If Tottenham maintain this form, and they were to come second or miss out on Champions League football, Spurs fans surely would be wondering many a more ‘what if’s’ come May.
If, in the crazy football world that we seem to live in now, my hypothesis did come true with Tottenham coming a close second too Arsenal in the League, Norwich will probably not be one where they ask ‘what if…’. The 3-0 defeat of Norwich on Boxing Day saw Harry Kane score a brace, and it would not be a surprise if Kane should do the same again. Whilst Vertonghen will be missing after picking up a knee injury against Crystal Palace, Kevin Wimmer is a capable replacement and with Dele Alli rested against the win against Colchester in the FA Cup, Pochettino will be confident of another 3 points in this game.
For Norwich, debuts to Bamford and Klose could provide some impetus in performance at Carrow Road. Norwich seemed assured on the ball against Liverpool in the first half before the slightly bizarre madness of the second 45 minutes. Alex Neil would be desperately trying to reinforce the positives to take from the Liverpool game over the last 10 days but Tottenham are a lot better footballing side than Liverpool and consequently can’t look past a Tottenham victory.
Match Prediction: Norwich 1-3 Tottenham
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog