Norwich 1-0 Tottenham: Snodgrass counter enough to send Spurs home empty-handed

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A spirited, courageous 90 minutes from the home side at Carrow Road may have saved Chris Hughton’s side, as a counter Robert Snodgrass and solid defending throughout downed the best away side in the Premier League.

Pained looks painted the faces of Tim Sherwood and Daniel Levy as Spurs failed to score for the first time under their new manager, and fell six points back of Liverpool for the final Champions League place.

The opening 15 minutes went by without much noise, with the biggest news being Etienne Capoue’s injury that forced him off after just 13 minutes, replaced by Nacer Chadli.

The match remained a midfield battle for much of the first half, with little happening in either box.

Despite Tottenham’s relative advantage in possession, Norwich seriously frustrated the visitors, as evident by a number of fouls committed by Spurs players for holding Norwich players back.

Moussa Dembele in particular was visibly frustrated after committing an obvious foul, and his words for the referee and toss of the ball earned him a yellow card.

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The English tabloids said a loss could be the end for Norwich manager Chris Hughton, but his team gutted out the win.

Norwich produced a physical and pressuring style, contesting every Spurs pass, allowing little space for the visiting top-4 hopefuls to build any sort of sustained attack. They had a few opportunities on the break as well, with both Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Sebastian Bassong unable to convert a pair of half-chances.

In the second half, it was more of the same, but one moment just two minutes after the break changed the match in favor of the home side.  Robert Snodgrass broke down the right-hand side, collected from Bradley Johnson, and beat Danny Rose to slot home past Hugo Lloris.

It was a major moment for relegation-threatened Norwich, and seriously pegged Tottenham back.

Spurs began to slowly build more threatening chances, but twice a heavy touch from Emmanuel Adebayor meant an equalizer eluded the towering Togolese international.

Tim Sherwood brought on Roberto Soldado in a straightforward attacking change, replacing Paulinho, and this swung the match in favor of the visitors.  However, Soldado’s chance to score on his first touch went like so many have from the Spaniard this year, never testing the keeper and slicing wide from an angle.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel was withdrawn by Chris Hughton on 72 minutes to warm applause, with the home crowd recognizing his hard work despite it not directly leading to results.

It was all Spurs from there, as Soldado, Nacer Chadli, and the rest of the attack desperately peppered John Ruddy’s goal with chances, but nothing would come of it.

Norwich held on and the crowd roared at full time, showering their faithful with praise as a dejected Spurs squad quickly exited the pitch.  For the relegation-threatened Canaries, the three points are enormously valuable, boosting them four points clear of the drop.

LINEUPS:

Norwich – Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond (Hoolahan 86′); van Wolfswinkel (Hooper 72′).

Goals: Snodgrass (47′)

Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose (Townsend 82′); Capoue (Chadli 13′), Bentaleb, Dembele, Paulinho (Soldado 65′); Lennon, Adebayor.

Watch Live: Swansea host Manchester United

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Swansea City welcome Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s side aiming to stay top of the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Swansea v. Man United ]

Yes, it’s early days, but the Red Devils were imperious in their thumping 4-0 win against West Ham United to open their season. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dominated and Mourinho’s men are now a powerful, well-oiled machine.

As for Swansea, they struggled at Southampton but came away with a draw, however the main storyline surrounding the South Wales side this week has been losing Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for over $60 million. Paul Clement will have to act fast to spend that cash wisely, but there is no doubt the Swans will miss their Icelandic playmaker.

In team news Swansea bring in Kyle Bartley and Roque Mesa as they line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top.

Man United are, unsurprisingly, unchanged.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Fernandez, Bartley, Mawson; Naughton, Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Olsson; Ayew, Abraham. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.