Isn’t it amazing how quickly fortunes can change in football? I dare say that thought has crossed the mind of Norwich City manager Chris Hughton over the last few days.
Re-wind to December 8th and things couldn’t have been going better for Norwich. Hughton had just masterminded a fine 4-3 win against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium which took his side’s unbeaten run to ten matches in all competitions, a run which included victories over Manchester United and Arsenal.
It had the Canaries riding high in seventh in the Premier League and into the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup. A difficult start to Hughton’s tenure had largely been forgotten and Norwich were looking more impressive than they ever did last season under Paul Lambert.
But what has happened since should have alarm bells ringing at Carrow Road. Immediately after that win in South Wales, Norwich were thrashed 4-1 by Lambert’s new club Aston Villa in the League Cup last eight and that set the Canaries on a run of just two wins in ten matches that culminated with the disastrous result at the weekend.
To become the first top-flight side to be beaten by a non-league team in the FA Cup since 1989 is almost too embarrassing for words and Luton Town’s deserved victory at Carrow Road could prove to be a pivotal point in Norwich’s season.
Should it prove to be a nadir, then the club should be fine for a third successive year of Premier League football. Yet if the disgraceful loss should continue the slide, then Norwich could yet be fighting for survival come May.
You would think that the points accrued over autumn and early winter would be enough – they currently sit seven points above the drop zone – but if they carry on like they are it is hard to see where their next win is coming from.
The only wins in that ten-game sequence were against Wigan Athletic at home immediately after the Villa defeat and against Peterborough United in the FA Cup, and their league form since mid-December has nose-dived alarmingly.
Norwich are bottom of the six-game form guide after taking just one solitary point from 18 (a 0-0 draw at home to Newcastle United) and they look no sort of bet at 17/5 when Tottenham Hotspur visit East Anglia on Wednesday.
The draw is 5/2, but I’ll be on Spurs all day here, even at odds-on (4/5).
Tottenham are having a bit of a blip themselves having gone three games without a win, but draws at QPR and home to Manchester United are not the worst results in the world, even if the defeat to Leeds United at Elland Road in the FA Cup on Sunday was a poor showing.
But you could tell with the team Andre Villas-Boas picked that his priorities lie with the two Premier League games in four days this week and he no doubt views trips to Norwich and West Bromwich Albion on Sunday as winnable games as he bids to keep Spurs in the Champions League places.
Tottenham currently sit fourth, with a three-point buffer to Everton and a further two to rivals Arsenal, and they are in good enough form despite that mini-winless run to beat the Canaries.
Only the top three have won more points in the last six than AVB’s boys and they are doing well enough on the road to make me think they can dispatch Norwich easily.
Since taking a shellacking at Arsenal, Spurs have picked up ten points from five away league games. In fact, since that 5-2 loss, Tottenham have lost just one of their 11 league fixtures (two of 15 in all competitions), winning seven of those 11, and they have too much quality for Norwich.
And in a remarkable statistic, ten of Spurs’ 11 away games have seen over 2.5 goals, so the 33/20 on them winning another three-goal-plus encounter looks like the play.
Punters joining bwin.com today can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Spurs to beat Norwich in a game of over 2.5 goals would return a cool £53 if successful.
Norwich did beat Tottenham in that ten-game unbeaten run earlier in the season, but that was in the Capital One Cup and I’m discounting it.
It was a rather fortunate, late win anyhow, and I’m trusting Spurs to reassert their superiority over the out-of form Canaries.