Football Features

Norwich 2-2 Tottenham: Kane penalty saves Spurs as VAR has its say again

By Chris Smith

Published: 19:37, 28 December 2019

Norwich City were unable to get back to winning ways as they twice threw away the lead to draw 2-2 with Tottenham on Saturday evening.

Prior to the match, the Canaries had gone six games without a win since picking up three points at Goodison Park back in November, leaving them stranded at the bottom of the Premier League table.

A mixture of slick football and a slice of luck looked like it might see Daniel Farke’s men finally get over the line. First, Mario Vrancic fired home to give Norwich the lead after Emiliano Buendia had caught Juan Foyth in possession. Then, after Chrisitan Eriksen’s sublime free-kick levelled it up for Spurs, the unfortunate Serge Aurier bundled the ball into his own net via Toby Alderweireld’s challenge on Teemu Pukki.

Both sides had goals disallowed in the game, with Pukki incredibly unfortunate to see his first-half strike disallowed by VAR for the tightest of offside calls, while a flowing Spurs move was coolly finished by Dele Alli in the second half, though linesman rightly flagged against the England international.

But Spurs finally did get their second breakthrough when Christoph Zimmermann hacked down Harry Kane in the area and, of course, the England international dispatched the penalty with ease.

All told, despite Spurs outshooting their opponents five to 15, Norwich were great to watch and might well have grabbed a win here, which would have seen them move to within four points of 17th thanks to West Ham’s simultaneous defeat to Leicester City. But with just three wins and 13 points from 20 games, things are looking bleak for the Canaries.

Canaries struggle to find their song: Key stats from Norwich 2-2 Tottenham…

  • Mario Vrancic opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal in just his second competition start.
  • He joins Edin Dzeko, Sead Kolasinac and Asmir Begovic as just the fourth Bosnian player to score in the Premier League.
  • Spurs levelled the game with a Christian Eriksen free-kick – his 12th Premier League goal from outside the box since 2016/17.
  • Tottenham have now conceded 10 goals away from home in all competitions under Jose Mourinho.

Is this it for Norwich?

Norwich are bottom of the league but let’s face it, they’ve pulled off some superb results this season. This draw with Spurs sits nicely alongside their famous victory over Manchester City, as well as credible draws at home to Arsenal and away to Leicester City.

The Canaries played some tremendous football during those games and honestly, the six points they’ve taken from them doesn’t do them justice. The problem is, they’re absolutely architects of their own downfall and have completely failed to get the basics right – for all their pretty football, Norwich are staring down the barrel of relegation.

Next up for Farke’s side is a home tie against Crystal Palace and although there is still plenty of football to be played, that six-point gap between themselves and 17th place appears to be ever-widening.

Norwich still have to travel to the likes of Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, while they’re yet to host Liverpool. They might be remembered as one of the most stylish sides to be relegated from the Premier League, but it’s hard to see their outcome being anything other than just that.

Next five Premier League fixtures

01/01/20: Crystal Palace (H)

11/01/20: Manchester United (A)

18/01/20: Bournemouth (H)

22/01/20: Tottenham Hotspur (A)

01/02/20: Newcastle United (A)

Can Mourinho stem the tide on the road? 

Spurs have undoubtedly improved under Mourinho but, my word, they’re still wildly inconsistent. Their December form has seen them lose and win games back-to-back with alarming regularity, while this draw on the road sees them squander a great chance to, at least temporarily, leapfrog Chelsea into fourth place.

The main problem away from north London has been their habit of leaking goals, with the Lilywhites now conceding 10 times on the road in all competitions under Mourinho and not one of his defenders putting in consistently assured performances.

This time, Davinson Sanchez struggled to cope with Pukki, Aurier was wild and erratic at right-back, while the less said about Foyth and Jan Vertonghen the better.

January might well see Daniel Levy back his new man heavily in order to mould the playing squad in his image, starting at the back. One way or another, though, Mourinho simply must make his side far more rigid and hard to break down than this – two goals conceded against bottom side Norwich, regardless of how free-flowing they can be, is absolutely not the standard required by last season’s Champions League runner-up.

Next five Premier League fixtures

01/01/20: Southampton (A)

11/01/20: Liverpool (H)

18/01/20: Watford (A)

22/01/20: Norwich City (H)

02/02/20: Manchester City (H)

Emiliano Buendia

While Norwich’s season seems to be going down in a blaze of glory, credit must be given to one of their undoubted stars, Emiliano Buendia.

The Argentine playmaker has provided six assists in the Premier League so far this season — the fourth-highest in the division — and has been the creative hub at the heart of most things positive for the Canaries.

Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia rues a missed chance

While he got his customary assist against Spurs on Saturday, it was his relentless work off the ball which impressed the most. Buendia made a match-high eight tackles against Mourinho’s side – actually getting his assist via this route when he caught Foyth in possession – while no player on the pitch made more interceptions (3) than him.

This is just the latest in an ever-growing line of impressive performances for Buendia this season, who is sure to be hot property if Norwich go straight back down to the Championship as expected.