If Andre Villas-Boas has anything about him, Norwich City’s visit to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur will act as a reminder as to why the Portuguese has been given a second chance in the Premier League.
The two meetings between these sides acted as bookends for Tottenham’s season of two halves in 2011/12: Spurs’ 2-0 win over the Canaries at Carrow Road on December 27th was one of the best performances by any team all term. With Gareth Bale in brilliant form, Harry Redknapp’s outfit were being talked up as genuine title contenders as they sat in third place, just seven points behind Manchester City with a game in hand.
Yet by the time of the reverse fixture in April, Tottenham were enduring a horrible run of form that saw Redknapp’s side take just 24 points from 18 games and Norwich’s 2-1 win at the Lane was in part responsible for Arsenal leapfrogging their north London rivals into third position. Ultimately, this meant Tottenham missed out on Champions League football due to Chelsea’s extraordinary victory in last year’s competition.
Whatever team Villas-Boas has out on Saturday, you would need a better performance than the one Tottenham put in against West Brom to justify a price of 9/25 for the home win.
We’ll never know if Redknapp would have kept his job had Tottenham finished third, but they didn’t, and now Villas-Boas knows that unless he conjures up more displays like the one Spurs put in at Carrow Road last season his second stint in the capital will be as short-lived as his first.
It must be said that it has been an inauspicious start for AVB, with Spurs taking just one point from two games. Nevertheless, there is every chance that his squad will have a drastically different look by the time his team kicks off on Saturday. At the time of writing, Moussa Dembele looks set to sign, but with speculation rife over a host of targets now Luka Modric has been sold to Real Madrid, Tottenham could have a busy last few hours of the transfer window.
Whatever team Villas-Boas has out on Saturday, you would need a better performance than the one Tottenham put in against West Brom to justify a price of 9/25 for the home win. Norwich are 7/1 outsiders, with the draw at 15/4 and I have to say, the Canaries look a bit big to me.
Chris Hughton has a job on his hands to emulate the work of his predecessor Paul Lambert, and I fancy it to be a long, tough season for the former Birmingham boss, but his team looks capable of getting a result at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham just don’t look to have clicked yet for a number of reasons. Injuries have played their part as there is no question Scott Parker is being missed now that Modric has forced his way out, and a central midfield of Jake Livermore and Sandro is not top four quality.
Villas-Boas doesn’t yet seem to have discovered the right blend, with Glyfi Sigurdsson yet to be properly integrated and a back four still getting to know each other following the arrival of Jan Vertonghen.
Spurs’ woeful defending once they went a goal up against the Baggies will give Hughton great encouragement, as will the performance of his side in drawing 1-1 with QPR last week and at 21/10 to avoid defeat, Norwich are worth a play.
Norwich didn’t keep a clean sheet away from home all of last season but they only failed to score five times and their 2-3-5 record away to teams in the top half was a very respectable return (sixth best in the division). They may struggle to replicate that this year, but this looks like a good time to play Tottenham while they are still finding their feet and with Spurs too short, Norwich, with memories of victory in north London fresh in the mind, look a great bet to win with a goal head start.
Recommended bet: Norwich to avoid defeat @ 21/10
New customers can register here to claim a free £20 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwi