Tottenham Hotspur-Norwich City Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Relegation-threatened Norwich City will be looking for a surprise win when they welcome Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur to Carrow Road on Sunday.

Chris Hughton's Norwich (6-7-13) have won just one of their last 11 league games, leaving them a point outside of the relegation zone with 12 games remaining.

Despite spending relatively heavily on attacking talent in the summer transfer window, the Canaries have struggled for goals all season, managing only four in their last ten league games. Only Crystal Palace (18) have netted fewer than Norwich's 19 in 26 games, and the lack of entertainment is beginning to lead to unrest in the stands and an increase in the pressure on the manager.

However, Hughton refused to talk about his own position in the build-up to the match, instead focusing on the need for his side to start picking up points to give them an edge in what looks set to be one of the tightest relegation battles in Premier League history.

"We are going into the last 12 games of the season and it is a great challenge for us, as it is for another eight or nine teams around us and we have got to make sure we really look forwards to that challenge," said the former Spurs player and coach. "In a division which has seen a bottom 10 close to each other and where a three-point win can see you move up the division, as we have seen in recent weeks, you have to keep focused and ours will be on winning as many games as we can.

"You have to look forwards to the next game and make sure that is the best opportunity to get points, so we will continue to do that and our best opportunity is a home game against Tottenham. If we are able to maintain the standard of our play over the last three games, then we will certainly give ourselves every chance."

Tottenham (15-5-6) have very different aspirations this season. Tim Sherwood's side are just three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool after back-to-back Premier League wins, but have a vastly inferior goal difference to the rest of the Champions League contenders.

Spurs will be hoping that they don't suffer from the impact of a 1-0 Thursday night Europa League defeat at FC Dnipro that saw Roberto Soldado miss an open goal, but Sherwood blamed the pitch for both the Spaniard's poor finish and the lacklustre game.

"He would expect to score," Sherwood said of the miss. "I haven't seen it again but I'm not sure he will be too complimentary about the pitch. I am not using it as an excuse, not for the chance, as both teams played on it but I am sure that it must have played some part in Robbie missing that one.

"The pitch was a disgrace, it is no excuse as both teams had to play on it but it is possibly the worst pitch I have experienced in a long time."

Norwich have injury doubts over Jonas Gutierrez (calf), Ryan Bennett (hip), Michael Turner (hamstring), Jonny Howson (back) and Elliott Bennett (knee). Spurs are without Erik Lamela (back), Vlad Chiriches (back) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (hip), but Sandro may be available after completing a reserve team game in midweek following a calf problem.

Spurs won 2-0 when these teams met back in September. Sigurdsson scored both goals in a game that the Lilywhites dominated, outshooting their opponents 23-3. Norwich haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last six league meetings with Spurs.

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