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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City Preview: Skipping up the table

Is Antonio Conte unlocking this team’s potential?

Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City - FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

The festive period is always busy in the Premier League, but perhaps this is a season of opportunity for Tottenham Hotspur. December’s schedule should allow for the team to get back towards where it wants to be in the table, and more repetitions under Antonio Conte’s leadership should help cement the manager’s tactics into the squad.

If the squad’s performance against Brentford on Thursday is any indication, then great things could be ahead. Spurs are now just two points back — and importantly, with a match in hand — of fourth-place West Ham, and while there is a gap ahead of that, most supporters should feel pretty optimistic about where everything stands.

On Sunday, Tottenham will see its third newly promoted team, Norwich City. The Canaries are struggling in the top flight as expected and look to be headed for a long relegation fight, level on points with Burnley at 18th. This is the type of match Spurs need to grab by the horns and impose their will upon a clearly inferior side. The table is set for a solid three points.

Tottenham Hotspur (6th, 22 pts) vs. Norwich City (t-18th, 10 pts)

Date: Sunday, December 5
Time: 9:00 am ET, 2:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)

The numbers are not flattering for Norwich. This has been one of the worst clubs in the league on both ends of the pitch, nearly at the bottom in both goals for and allowed. Nothing ever seems to come easily for Tottenham, but perhaps the tides are turning. Either way, there is really no excuse to not dominate this match and control the ball and create the vast majority of the chances.

That is exactly what Conte’s side did in Thursday’s 2-0 victory. As the clearly better side, Spurs took the reins and created all of the chances, even finding success from a corner. There could have (and should have) been more goals scored, but at least the forwards are getting into position to actually capitalize. The wingbacks and midfielders will have another chance to push far up the pitch against a fairly weak side.

On the other end, Spurs need to be aiming for another clean sheet. Norwich average well under a goal per match, and its midweek fixture against 10-man Newcastle nearly resulted in a shutout were it not for a late equalizer. Tottenham’s back line has been in good shape as of late, but the next step for Conte’s squad is using that defensive stability to give more freedom to join in on the attack.

Three themes

  1. Norwich won the Championship by six points last season, in part due to the performance of loanee Oliver Skipp. The central midfielder started the year as a staple under Nuno Espirito Santo and has retained the role under Conte. Skipp was great against Brentford and surely will be excited for this fixture and he will have the chance to take control in the middle against his old teammates.
  2. Spurs took four points from the Canaries during their last stint in the Premier League, which was the 2019-20 season. The clubs also met in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup that season, with Norwich pulling off the upset over Jose Mourinho’s side in penalties, a terrible yet not that surprising result.
  3. The two-match-a-week chaos continues next Thursday with the final round of group stage matches in the illustrious Conference League. Tottenham needs a win over Rennes to survive and move on to the knockout round against a Europa League third place team, as first place is already off the table. Exciting stuff.