Norwich City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Preview, Team News, Predicted Lineups

Andy Ward@@Wardy1710Contributor IIJanuary 29, 2013

Norwich City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Preview, Team News, Predicted Lineups

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    It was a weekend to forget for both Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur, as both sides crashed out of the FA Cup to lower-league opposition.

    The Canaries were stunned by Luton Town, whilst Spurs will have been disappointed to be beaten by Leeds United as the two clubs experienced the pain of being on the end of a cup shock. 

    Now, the teams must dust themselves down as they prepare to meet each other in the Premier League on Wednesday night and look to put their cup misery behind them.

    This is a crucial fixture, with the two outfits needing the points for very different reasons, as Norwich try to stop an alarming run of form that has seen them pick up just one point from a possible eighteen and Tottenham attempt to continue their push for Champions League football next season.

    It should make for a fascinating game in Norfolk, and here is a complete preview of  what to expect...

Team News

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    Norwich City boss Chris Hughton will undoubtedly make wholesale changes to his starting 11 after the Canaries were humiliated by non-league Luton Town in their last encounter.

    Hughton rested a number of regular starters for the clash with the Hatters and the gamble failed to come off in spectacular style as his side became the first top-flight team to lose to fifth-tier opposition since 1989.

    Despite the devastating defeat, Norwich will have been boosted by the news this week that key defender Sebastien Bassong will return from injury to face his former club in this one, whilst Steven Whittaker is also in contention for the first time since limping out of the loss to West Bromwich Albion back in December. 

    On-loan Spurs forward Harry Kane will not be allowed to face his parent club, but the likes of Michael Turner, Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass should be reinstated back into the team after playing no part in the FA Cup fixture against Luton.

    New signing Lee Camp should also feature in the matchday squad for the first time since his move from Nottingham Forest.

    Tottenham were also on the end of a cup upset at the weekend as they bowed out to Leeds United at Elland Road, and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping that his team can bounce back in Norfolk.

    Top scorer Jermain Defoe missed out on that occasion due to a pelvic injury but is back in contention for the clash at Carrow Road alongside the returning William Gallas who has recovered from a calf injury.

    Ominously for Norwich, new Lilywhites recruit Lewis Holtby could be involved after Villas-Boas suggested that he would make the trip having successfully managed to bring the German international to the club earlier than expected. 

    However, Spurs will be without Emmanuel Adebayor who is still on African Cup of Nations duty, as well as long term absentees Sandro and Younes Kaboul who both miss out thanks to serious knee injuries.

What the Managers Said

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    Chris Hughton (Norwich City)

    Speaking before the clash with Tottenham, Chris Hughton said (via the official Norwich City website):

    We’re at home and these are the games where you look at the team and the individuals to bounce back.

    We certainly can’t underestimate the quality that Tottenham have because it’s there to see but it’s an opportunity for us to get back to winning ways, better form, and hopefully to get some points. 

    What I’d like to expect is to see a reaction from my team. Whether that will see us put in a performance that we need to get a result that we want, we’ll only know that on Wednesday, but I'm quite sure it won’t be through a lack of effort.

    We have some very good professionals at this Club, and we need to get back to winning ways again.

    Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur)

    Speaking to the official club website, AVB commented:

    It’s good to have a game so quickly, it gives us an opportunity back in the Premier League and in a situation like this, the quicker the game comes, the better.

    We’re all obviously disappointed that our unbeaten run has come to an end (at Leeds united), a run since the defeat at Everton, but we've been through it before and hopefully we can bounce back.

Last Meeting Between the Sides

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    Wednesday's clash will in fact be the third meeting between the two clubs this season after Norwich knocked out the visitors in the Capital One Cup earlier in the campaign.

    With Spurs seemingly in control of the match thanks to a well-taken Gareth Bale strike, the Canaries turned the game on its head in a dramatic final 10 minutes to progress to the quarterfinals.

    Substitute Alex Tettey managed to force a deflection from Jan Vertonghen to level the scores, before Simeon Jackson struck the decisive blow in the 87th minute.

    That wasn't the end of the drama, though, as there was still time for Clint Dempsey to miss a late penalty to ensure that it would be Norwich who were victorious.

    The Canaries didn't get any further in the competition however as Paul Lambert returned to haunt his former club by masterminding a 4-1 win for Aston Villa to unceremoniously dump Norwich out of the Cup. 

Predicted Lineup and Current Form: Norwich City

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    Chris Hughton could choose to revert back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation after his side's poor performance against Luton Town in which he experimented with a 4-4-2.

    A major decision is likely to be who is trusted between the sticks, with Lee Camp pushing for a first start since joining the club as competition for Mark Bunn.

    I would expect Bunn to be given a chance to keep his place, but the Canaries boss will be demanding more from the stopper if he wants to remain as No.1.

    Another tough call surrounds the right-back spot, with Steven Whittaker finally back from an injury lay-off after making an impressive start to his time at Carrow Road.

    The inclusion of Whittaker would be tough on Russell Martin who hasn't really done a lot wrong and has contributed each of Norwich's last three Premier League goals to boot, but Whittaker has been the preferred choice on the occasions that both players have been fit this year.

    The first-choice centre-back pairing of Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner should get the nod, with Javier Garrido at left-back and the dynamic duo of Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey returning to occupy the defensive midfield positions.

    Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington were both taken out of the starting lineup for Norwich's last Premier League game at Liverpool, but with Elliott Bennett and Jonny Howson failing to impress in their absence it would come of little surprise to see them return against Spurs.

    Robert Snodgrass has enjoyed a fantastic season to date and will continue on the right-hand side, whilst Grant Holt will probably be the man chosen to lead the line once more with Simeon Jackson the only other striker available to Hughton.

    Norwich City Last 6: LLWDLL

Predicted Line-Up and Current Form: Tottenham Hotspur

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    Like Hughton, Andre Villas-Boas will make changes from the side that were humbled in the FA by lower league opposition as Spurs look to continue their push for fourth spot in the Premier League.

    Brad Friedel started at Leeds, but Hugo Lloris has now established himself as the first-choice goalkeeper at White Hart Lane and should start in Norfolk.

    Benoit Assou-Ekotto is a real fan favorite in North London and will have a good chance of filling the left-back spot despite former Norwich loanee Kyle Naughton filling in admirably in his absence, whilst Kyle Walker is the preferred option at right-back.

    Michael Dawson was reportedly on the verge of leaving Spurs in the summer, but the popular centre-half has fought back superbly to re-claim both a starting spot and the captain's armband, and he would expect to partner Jan Vertonghen at centre-half; although William Gallas and Steven Caulker are other impressive options. 

    It is almost certain that Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale will occupy the flanks, which will not be music to the ears of the Norwich full-backs with both players amongst the most feared wide-men in the division.

    Tottenham were dealt a blow recently with the news that the previously ever-present Sandro will now miss the rest of the season, but the return of Scott Parker has helped matters and he should play alongside Mousa Dembele in the centre of the park.

    Finally, if Jermain Defoe is fit enough you would imagine that Villas-Boas will play him as the lone striker, but if he is unable to start Clint Dempsey will have to deputise with Tottenham currently lacking another striker. 

    Tottenham Last 6: WWWDDL


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    With Norwich City evidentially lacking confidence, I'm sure that a clash with one of the best sides in the country wouldn't have been at the top of their list to play next, but that's exactly the task that faces the Canaries and they must try and meet the challenge head on.

    An early goal could be crucial in this match; if Norwich get it then a bit of belief may return to a group of players that have struggled recently, but if the away side take the lead then it may be a long way back for Chris Hughton's men.

    However, getting that goal may not be as straightforward as it seems with City having consistently struggled to hit the back of the net in recent weeks and it's hard to see that trend changing against Tottenham.

    As for Spurs, they will look to get the ball to their dangerous wide players and the threat of Bale and Lennon is something that may be too hot to handle for the Norwich full-backs.

    Hughton will hope to make his team very hard to beat, much like Luton town were on Saturday when the roles were reversed, but I would expect Tottenham's superior quality to tell in the end and for them to leave Carrow Road with all three points.

    Predicted Scoreline: Norwich City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

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