Tottenham Hotspur's Soldado celebrates with team mate Sigurdsson  after scoring a penalty against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park in London

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Norwich City: Sigurdsson double highlights Spurs domination

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It was a dream day for Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose brace was the headline of a day when Tottenham were by far the better team en route to their third win of the year.

The Icelandic winger had been frozen out of the squad for much of last year, and with not all of Andre Villas-Boas’s new signings ready to play just yet, he received the call today.

Spurs started bright, pushing up through the midfield and playing a very high line to keep possession in the attacking half.

The home side had a brilliant chance in the 11th minute, when debutant Christian Eriksen created a wonderful bit of space in the box thanks to a one-two move.  He popped a shot from a tough angle, which was well saved though by Norwich keeper John Ruddy.

The chance appeared over, but Ruddy spilled the ball and it fell to Roberto Soldado, who used some impressive improvisation and attempted a back-chip which surprised and beat Ruddy but clipped off the bar.

Norwich spent all their energy just trying to get a touch on the ball, and Spurs kept nearly three-quarters of the possession through the first 15 minutes, pumping the ball into the box repeatedly.

Eriksen again proved creative as Tottenham finally broke through in the 28th minute, as an absolutely brilliant bit of passing in the Norwich box completely shattered the visiting defense.  Danny Rose blasted in a cross, which fell to Soldado. The striker laid off to Eriksen whose first touch fell wonderfully to a streaking Sigurdsson who put the ball into the back of the net.  The goal is the first from open play this season for Spurs.

They continued to batter the Norwich back line after scoring, but the visitors didn’t give up. Their first promising break saw the ball come to Ricky van Wolfswinkel, whose shot would have seriously tested Hugo Lloris but Danny Rose made a vital interception to turn it behind.

Norwich started the second half with a little more energy, but immediately Sigurdsson picked up his second just four minutes after the break. Spurs continued to flood the box, and Paulinho’s cross evaded the defense and found Sigurdsson’s feet for an easy close-range finish. Gylfi looked for his hat-trick but he was denied from long range in the 61st minute by a strong Ruddy save.

The Canaries played into the game a bit more in the second half, and finally found an opening when Lloris came out to punch a corner, and the ball ended up falling to van Wolfswinkel who took a few too many touches before firing on net and the chance was blocked.

That was all Norwich would see, as White Hart Lane saw their home side slide to victory and continue their wonderful start to the season.

Tottenham – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele (Lamela, 83′), Paulinho; Townsend, Sigurdsson (Sandro, 78′), Eriksen (Holtby, 71′); Soldado.

Norwich – Ruddy; Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Fer, Johnson (Howson, 64′), Redmond (Pilkington, 74′), Elmander (Tettey, 74′); van Wolfswinkel.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.