TOTTENHAM travel to Norwich on Saturday. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Norwich v Tottenham | Saturday 28th December 2019, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Norwich have dropped to the bottom of the Premier League and will know that results, rather than attractive football, are the only thing that will keep them from avoiding relegation.
Having now lost both games against Aston Villa this season and also suffering defeat to other teams around them in the table, namely Watford and Southampton, the Canaries are going to have to hope that they can cause another upset against a top six side and garner points that way instead.
The Boxing Day defeat at Villa Park was a harsh lesson in taking your chances in the top flight with Daniel Farke’s men missing a couple of one-on-ones and eventually being punished.
The team need to find a way to score goals if the likes of Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki haven’t got their shooting boots on. Collectively, the pair have scored an alarming 14 of their side’s 19 Premier League goals with no other player in the squad scoring more than once.
Although Pukki found the net in recent trips to Southampton and Leicester, the Finnish striker has only scored once at Carrow Road since mid September and that simply has to change if Norwich are to stand any chance of avoiding an immediate drop back down to the Championship.
Injuries and a lack of consistency has led to Farke tinkering with some of his midfield options to try and find that winning formula and a man who is now playing in a more advanced role as a result is Kenny McLean. The Scot started the season in defensive midfield but now finds himself in the number 10 position behind Pukki. The player prop markets often produce value when individuals are out of their natural position and that appears to be the case here too.
Since moving into his new role, McLean has registered seven shots in his last three home games and when considering that he got just as many efforts on goal away against Aston Villa as the aforementioned Cantwell and Pukki, it’s a little surprising to see some bookies vary so much on the shots odds in comparison to his attacking teammates.
Of course McLean is not as potent, so I like the look of him to have two shots in the game at 5/4 with Coral. The same bet is 4/6 with SkyBet so it’s a price difference that I want to take advantage of. This game should be an open affair with plenty of chances for both sides and it’s not too many months ago that McLean found the net against Manchester City in that famous 3-2 win which proves that he 27-year-old can be a threat.
Whilst it seems pretty clear that Norwich need to improve, it feels too early to give much of an assessment of Jose Mourinho’s time at Tottenham to date. Spurs returned to winning ways against Brighton but need to move up a gear or two if they are to have any chance of finishing fourth at the end of the season, a place that seems there for the taking at the moment.
The only complete performance since the Portuguese manager arrived in North London was the 5-0 drubbing of Burnley but in every other match, Spurs have been given a tough ride and their other four Premier League wins under Mourinho have seen both teams score.
Rotation will be needed again with a second match in 48 hours and both Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko suspended for the trip east which will likely lend to starts for Dier and Lo Celso, the latter who impressed off the bench on Boxing Day. Whoever starts the game, Spurs fans will be hoping that they reduce Norwich to less shots than the 19 that Wolves registered in the Lillywhites’ last game on the road.
Norwich certainly share Tottenham’s defensive frailties but obviously to a much larger extent given their league position. The club’s Expected Goals Against (xGA) number at home – 2.11 per-game – is higher than all other 19 teams and they are yet to keep a clean sheet in East Anglia in nine attempts.
The back four have always been questionable but now goalkeeper Tim Krul is making mistakes too so reinforcements may well be needed in the January transfer window to try and shore things up in those positions.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli, both in good form, will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of facing a backline lacking confidence and leaking far too many goals but given Tottenham’s own issues in defence, I think Spurs to win and both teams to score is the best way to go at 21/10 with Betfair for my final selection.