Sunday's showdown between Tottenham and Norwich City is vital for both teams, albeit for different reasons.
Spurs are playing for a top-four place (three points behind Liverpool) or even in the hopes of worming their way back into the Premier League title race (seven points behind Chelsea). Meanwhile, the Canaries are just a point clear of the relegation zone in what has become an increasingly tight race.
Any usual home-field advantage Norwich might have doesn't apply against Tottenham, as the visitors have taken 29 of a possible 39 points on the road. That's eight points better than what they've managed at White Hart Lane, so they've certainly made themselves at home around the league this season.
Let's break down this Premier League matchup.
When: Sunday at 11 a.m. ET
Sunday at 4 p.m. GMT
Where: Carrow Road, Norwich, England
Watch: NBC Sports Network; NBC Sports Live Extra; Sky Sports 1; BBC One
Chances: Tottenham (42 percent), Norwich City (31.8 percent) and draw (26.1 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
Tottenham rested several regulars in the mid-week 1-0 loss to Dnipro, but according to John Ley of The Telegraph, Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor will all be available, while Sandro, Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches will all miss this contest.
Jonny Howson could be available for the Canaries, while Jonas Gutierrez, Ryan Bennett, Michael Turner and Elliott Bennett will be out of action.
Paul Merson of Sky Sports feels this is a game Tottenham prioritized above the mid-week Europa League contest, since there is still so much at stake (and within Spurs reach) in the Premier League:
The fact Tim Sherwood left so many players out of his Europa League squad shows that he knows they have a real chance of getting in the top four. They've been on a roll and are only three points behind Liverpool and six behind Arsenal, so it's opened up for them. Nobody has mentioned them really but I think any of the current top five can still win the title.
If any of the top five can put seven wins in a row together, then they will win the league—and that includes Spurs. It will be an amazing achievement if they can do that because it really should be between Man City and Chelsea when you look at the squads.
While Sherwood has his men fighting for a place in the Champions League next season, Norwich's manager Chris Hughton is fighting for his job at this point. Norwich chief executive David McNally essentially gave Hughton an ultimatum last week, via ESPN FC:
It would be almost delinquent of the football club to not be aware of potential candidates if for any reason your manager left. If results are not good enough you have to be aware of who is out there to help. You look at the market and who might be right for Norwich City.
If we needed to make a change—and the average tenure of a Premier League manager is about a year-and-a-half, which puts Chris in the top six or top eight longest serving right now—then if a change was necessary it wouldn't be a case of, 'who are the contenders?'
It would be a case of reviewing what is required, where are we going and who is best placed to take the club forward.
There's really no need to read between the lines there—the extremely tenuous nature of Hughton's future isn't in doubt.
Of course, it's hard to imagine Hughton inspiring much confidence this week, especially as his club comes into this game having scored just once in their last four Premier League matches. Any confidence they may have gained from a Feb. 8 draw against Manchester City was quickly flushed away in a 2-0 loss to West Ham three days later.
This is a game Spurs must win.
Tottenham's away form and recent play in the Premier League—seven points in their last three, including wins over Everton and Newcastle—should be enough to overcome the Canaries. Hughton may yet save his job, but it probably won't be at the expense of a far superior Tottenham squad.
It remains to be seen if Spurs have the talent to make a run at the title and survive a rough March that includes games against Chelsea, Arsenal, Southampton and Liverpool, but they should be able to take down the Canaries, at least.
Tottenham win, 2-0.
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