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

Leave a comment

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.

LIVE, FA Cup 4th round: Spurs visit Southampton in all-PL tie

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The fourth round of the FA Cup is set to get into full swing at 10 a.m. ET, with eight ties kicking off simultaneously, including a pair of all-Premier League clashes.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Southampton host Tottenham Hotspur in the premier matchup of the time slot, with Jose Mourinho desperate for Cup success amid a difficult run of results at Tottenham. Elsewhere, Burnley will host Norwich City at Turf Moor. Fellow PL sides West Ham United, Newcastle United and Sheffield United are also in action.

Check the schedule of fixtures below, and hit the link above to follow along with the scores and results. As always, check back on PST for recaps and a roundup of all the action.

Saturday’s FA Cup schedule (all games at 10 a.m. ET, unless otherwise noted)

Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur
Burnley v. Norwich City
West Ham United
v. West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United v. Oxford United
Millwall v. Sheffield United
Portsmouth v. Barnsley
Coventry City v. Birmingham City
Reading v. Cardiff City
Hull City v. Chelsea — 12:30 p.m. ET

FA Cup: Leicester survive trip to Brentford, reach 5th round (video)

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brendan Rodgers made nine changes, but Leicester City were simply too much for an equally rotated Brentford side in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Griffin Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Leicester took an early lead through Kelechi Iheanacho with just four minutes on the clock, and that was all the Premier League’s third-place side needed to see off the EFL Championship’s third-place side. Dennis Praet gets no official credit for the goal, but it was the Belgian midfielder’s seeing-eye through ball that carved the Bees up and found James Justin for the routine cross followed by Iheanacho’s tap-in finish.

It was far from easy or straightforward for the Foxes, though, as Brentford turned things around following the first-half whistle an so nearly pulled level just past the hour mark. Emiliano Marcondes whipped in a curling, in-swinging cross that needed the slightest of redirects to find the back of the net, but Halil Dervisoglu couldn’t get a toe on the ball and watched helplessly as it hit the inside of the post and settled on the ground a yard or two off the goal line.

Bryan Mbeumo came off the bench and put the ball into the back of Leicester’s goal with his first touch, but the Frenchman was correctly ruled offside when Rico Henry looped the ball over the Foxes’ defense.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Eriksen

Photo by Lukasz Laskowski/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After months of posturing and working the back channels, it would appear that Christian Eriksen is close to getting his transfer away from Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

After months of posturing and holding firm, it would appear that Tottenham are close to getting their desired transfer fee for Eriksen despite his contract having only six months remaining.

After months of posturing and unsettling the 27-year-old star, it would appear that Inter Milan are close to getting their Danish international playmaker.

In the end, it would appear that everyone is going to get what they want, only no one truly gets what they want. Spurs spent the last year trying to sign Eriksen to a new contract; Eriksen wanted to leave in the summer and will feel like they wasted six months of his career; much like Inter would have been desperate to bolster their squad in the summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

$22 million — the amount Spurs will reportedly receive from Inter — will hardly be enough to replace such an influential player, therefore Spurs come out of this long-running saga the worst of the bunch.

As for Eriksen and Inter, it’ll be a challenge for the player to immediately find his footing and shine ever so brightly in the midst of a title race, especially after the side has already slumped to back-to-back draws and fallen four points back of Juventus. Though, reportedly tripling his wages from Spurs to Inter leaves Eriksen the biggest winner in a mostly no-win situation.

Struggling Atleti in unfamiliar territory under Simeone

Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID — This is uncharted territory for many Atletico Madrid fans.

Few other times in recent years have they seen their team struggle so much under Diego Simeone.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

Few other times have they seen their coach fail so often while trying to put the team back on track.

Atletico hit a new low under Simeone on Thursday when it was eliminated by third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The 2-1 loss in extra time was the team’s worst result in the cup competition since losing to third-tier club Albacete at the same stage in 2011-12.

Two days after that loss in 2011, Atletico hired the then-mostly unknown Simeone to replace Gregorio Manzano, a move that kick-started one of the club’s most successful eras and led to a Spanish league title, two Europa League trophies and two Champions League final appearances.

Atletico did go through difficult moments under Simeone, including when the team failed to advance past the group stage of the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.

“There were always complicated moments in past seasons, maybe after we didn’t make it in the Champions League, or when we lost in the Champions League finals,” Simeone said. “After being at the club for so long, things like this can happen, although they shouldn’t happen.”

There is a greater sense of urgency about the team’s struggles this time.

In addition to Wednesday’s embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination, Atletico lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, and already is eight points off the Spanish league lead after 20 matches.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Before, there used to be a notion that Simeone would quickly turn things around and put the team back on track, but this time there aren’t many signs things will improve again soon.

Atletico has yet to impress since undergoing its biggest squad revamp under Simeone at the end of last season, when it lost Antoine Griezmann and other veteran players such as Filipe Luis and Diego Godin. Young Portugal forward Joao Felix, who arrived to replace Griezmann after a transfer from Benfica worth more than 120 million euros ($133 million), has yet to meet expectations.

More concerning, Atletico is not being nearly as effective as it used to be, when it always seemed to find a way to win matches despite not playing well.

The team remains solid defensively — it has the second-best defense in the Spanish league with 14 goals conceded — but it hasn’t been able to do much in attack recently.

“Everything is harder when you can’t score,” Simeone said.

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than Atletico’s 22 in the 20-team standings.

Diego Costa has been mostly out injured, and Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Alvaro Morata haven’t done much in attack. Morata is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, and no one else has more than five.

“We have to be humble enough to be self-critical,” Simeone said. “We need to keep working to try to be ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us. We have a very good squad and I’m sure that the results that we want will start arriving soon.”

Atletico biggest chance to rebound will come next month against European champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be on Feb. 18 in Spain.