Tottenham visit Norwich City on Sunday February 23, 2014 (8:00 AM Pacific, 16:00 GMT) at Carrow Road, in the last game of matchday 27 of the Premier League. Spurs are coming from a 1-0 defeat in Ukraine against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Europa League, but they are chasing a third straight domestic league in the race for Champions League qualification. But, the Canaries need the three points too in order to get away from the relegation zone.
Norwich living on the edge
After going four matches without a league win (two draws, two losses), Norwich must take something out of this game to boost their chances of survival. With Fulham, Cardiff and Sunderland all dropping points or losing on Saturday, this could be the chance for the Canaries to start moving away from the drop zone. Their fixture list is such, that they really must secure their Premier League status in the next eight games, or face the prospect of trying to do it playing Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their last four matches of the campaign.
Chris Hughton’s side have certainly a problem up front, and the meager return of just 19 goals in 26 speaks for itself, with top goalscorer Gary Hooper netting only five. Defensively though, they look better than most their rivals, conceding 39, which is 20 less than bottom team Fulham. Their recent 0-0 draw at home against Manchester City highlighted both of their characteristics.
For the visit of Tottenham, no big changes are expected compared to the last outing at West Ham. Hughton is expected to field a 4-2-3-1 formation. The defense should be unaltered with John Ruddy in goal, and the defensive unit of Russel Martin at right back, Joseph Yobo and Sebastien Bassong as central defenders and Martin Olsson on the left. Midfielder Jonny Howson could return from back injury to partner Alexander Tettey in midfield, replacing Bradley Johnson. Robert Snodgrass will once again start on the right side, Nathan Redmond on the left and Leroy Fer will link up with striker center forward Hooper. On the injury front, defenders Michael Turner and Ryan Bennett remain unavailable, alongside midfielders Jonas Gutierrez and Elliott Bennett.
Regulars return for Spurs
Tottenham faced a difficult trip just days ago in Ukraine, losing 1-0 to Dnipro after a mediocre performance. There will be a second chance of qualification in the second leg though, and the team remains focused towards the target of securing Champions League qualification. Manager Tim Sherwood rested many first choice players like Hugo Lloris and Emmanuel Adebayor, so they should be fresh enough for the Norwich trip. Spurs are the best travelers in the Premier League, winning nine games and losing just two in thirteen outings. In their last league match, they brushed aside Newcastle 4-0 away, and now have the chance to lengthen the gap with sixth-placed Everton, or move closer to Liverpool by getting another win away from home.
Sherwood could revert to 4-2-3-1 for this match, with Lloris in goal, Kyle Walker returning at right back, and Danny Rose or Kyle Naughton on the left. Jan Vertonghen probably keeps his place in the center of defense, with Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson as his partner. Nabil Bentaleb and Mousa Dembele could form the central midfield duo, with Aaron Lennon on the right, Christian Erikssen on the left and Paulinho behind in-form striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who was rested for the Ukraine trip. In the case of 4-1-4-1, Ettiene Capoue could keep his place in front of the defense, with Paulinho and Bentaleb close to him, Dembele and Lennon on the wings and Adebayor up front. Defender Vlad Chiriches, midielder Sandro and forward Erik Lamela are out, while midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is doubtful.
Norwich vs Tottenham Prediction
Norwich held Manchester City to a draw recently and they will probably use that game as a blueprint against Tottenham. But, Spurs look confident and considering their away record and Adebayor’s form, they should edge this match. Score: 0-1.
Norwich vs Tottenham Television
The match will be televised on NBC Sports Network (USA), and Sky Sports 1 (UK).