Tottenham Hotspur clinched their first league victory of 2020 by bouncing back from a Norwich equaliser to win 2-1.
In a game where a win would be the only acceptable result for Mourinho’s men, Tottenham went ahead in the 38th minute after Serge Aurier continuously bombarded the box with crosses from the right-hand side. One of these fell neatly to Dele Alli who tapped in from a few yards out.
Norwich maintained the strength they displayed in the first half as they went into the second determined to grab an equaliser. With Hugo Lloris back in goal for the first time since October, he had the task of trying to save Teemu Pukki’s penalty in the 70th minute. Sessegnon could have no complaints about his challenge in the 18-yard box and the Norwich striker squeezed the ball past Lloris despite the Frenchman getting a touch.
With the points in the balance, Spurs began their retaliation and netted nine minutes later after a fluky deflection off of Zimmerman looped over to the far post, where Son was there to guide the ball home.
Considering Norwich’s poor away record, Spurs and Mourinho could have been in hot water if the three points were not claimed, but the Canaries made life difficult for Tottenham with plenty of opportunities to score themselves.
Lo Celso provides an extra avenue for Spurs
Giovani Lo Celso signed for Tottenham Hotspur on loan from Real Betis back in the summer transfer window and, under Mourinho, the Argentinian is having a continuous spell of starts in the squad. Stringing some appearances together has allowed Lo Celso to find a place in Tottenham’s attacking line-up.
The summer signing has excelled in the last three matches, starting all of them and occupying a creative role in the midfield, often tracking back to help defensively. The 23-year-old clearly has a lot of potential when it comes to dribbling and playing the ball forward and, along with Lucas Moura and Son, Spurs have a selection of players that can open up their opposition from various angles.
Based on what he has seen in the last few games, Mourinho will be anxious to try and sign Lo Celso on a permanent basis, with players like Gedson Fernandes also adding to the firepower.
Pukki and Cantwell continue to battle in bid to save Norwich
A lot is being made of the sticky situation that Norwich currently find themselves in, but the passion from the players, along with the fact that six points is all it could take to the lift them out of the relegation zone, suggests that perhaps Norwich’s position is not nearly as close to disastrous as many may have thought.
Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell in particular always look lively when on the front foot and both have a nice collection of goals to demonstrate this; 17 between them. Norwich mounted a considerable number of attacks against Tottenham on Wednesday night and almost certainly would have been the instigators of a comeback if one were to happen.
The Premier League usually has a certain team propping up the table for most of the season and often the team is written off a couple of months into the new year. Perhaps some have got into the habit of discarding the bottom club without even looking at the table, because Norwich really aren’t in a huge predicament in terms of a points gap and their performance against Spurs deserves real credit, even if they didn’t earn anything from it.
Right-backs pivotal in the attacking phases
Both the home side and away side had a certain threat originating from the right-hand side of defence. Serge Aurier for Spurs was a dominant figure when his team began to attack the final third and he was often the instigator of such efforts.
Meanwhile, Max Aarons for Norwich made life very difficult for Ryan Sessegnon, eventually luring the teenager into conceding the penalty.
Aarons had a more direct part to play when Norwich came forward, not hesitating to burst into the penalty area at great speed, while Aurier preferred to send balls into dangerous positions from the flanks. Either way, both players epitomised the modern role that full-backs have in playing positive football and helping their team advance up the pitch.
Spurs allowing opponents to get a foothold
Despite the three points, Mourinho may not be completely content with the required amount of grit to beat a team who has only taken five points on the road all season. On another day, Norwich will have taken their chances and we could have been talking about the Portuguese’s future at the club, despite only being there since November.
Early goals don’t seem to come naturally to Tottenham, who often inflict serious pressure on the opponent in the first quarter of the match or so without anything to show for it. Suddenly we reach a point where the opponent settles down and starts to trouble the shaky Tottenham backline with the score still being 0-0.
Imposing dominance on lesser teams is a hugely important trait that Spurs have all but completely lost over the last year. The North London outfit need to find a way to pass in a more meaningful fashion and adopt a style that doesn’t allow the opposition possession in their own half.
Daniel Farke remains an inspiring figure amidst relegation battle
Going back to Norwich’s situation at the bottom of the table, credit must be given to Daniel Farke on his method of inspiring the team to leave everything on the pitch. The German manager is quick to praise his players after most matches and Wednesday was no exception.
Speaking to the BBC, Farke had inspiring comments about his team, saying “it was a fantastic away performance even though it was a defeat“. Even though they sit at the bottom of the table, Farke’s mentality has had a huge impact on Norwich’s season, with fans and players alike reflecting the manager’s spirit.
Man of the Match – Serge Aurier
Aurier’s involvement in Tottenham’s performances of late cannot be understated, as the Frenchman plays a key role in the majority of things that Spurs do best. His crossing reaped the reward on Wednesday, as his pinpoint flash into the box allowed Alli to get the opener.
After a weekend of cup action that sees Spurs travel to Southampton and Norwich take the trip up to Burnley, Jose Mourinho’s men host the reigning champions Manchester City, while Daniel Farke are in the North again to take on Newcastle.