The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Troy Troy Again


Team Chelsea pose before the FA Cup
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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Well thanks for nothing Chelsea. on the day when you need Giroud to work his occasional magic, or Mount to justify the hype, or Caballero to become the oldest FA Cup winner, nada, zilch, complete disaster. condemning us to an early appearance in the Europa

Captain commits impetuous foul and then goes off with a hamstring injury, followed by promising goalscorer with the same affliction. Belerin then runs straight through the whole Chelsea defence, I use the term loosely, before Pepe sets up Abameyang for a brilliant goal, his 29th. of the season.

Pedro waved farewell after 5 years at the club from a stretcher on oxygen with an injured shoulder. Chelsea's woes were complete when Kovacic was sent off for a second lunge on Xhaka but the contact was minimal. After a bright start Chelsea's descent was complete.

Even Luiz failed to make his usual mistake and gift the opposition a goal. He bossed and bullied Giroud all afternoon.When all else failed the impressive Martinez stood firm.

Chelsea certainly won the Bad Boys Award, fourteen fouls against 2 and 5 yellows and a red against 1 for Arsenal. Good to see. One man's discipline is another man's lack of commitment and spirit and will to win. Though not always obviously.

I doubt whether the promise of Europa football will keep Aubameyang  at Arsenal and sincerely hope not as he is their one quality player and would grace almost any team in Europe.

Meanwhile here is a selection of teams Spurs could draw in the Europa League 2QR:
Kesla FK, Torshavn, Neftchi Baku,  Kaysar Kyzylorda, Ordabasy Shymkent, Sutjeska Niksic, FK Riteriai, FH Hafnarfjardar, Santa Coloma, Shakhtior Saligorsk, Kalju Nomme Backa, Topola Vojvodina, Novi Sad, OFI Heraklionsame..

Names to conjure with and some of them translate as 'banana skin' in English. In theory this should be a good opportunity to give fringe players and youth some game time but having pledged to win it Mourinho is unlikely to take any risks.

Paradoxically I wanted Arteta to succeed against Lampard but for Chelsea to win to make our our European task easier. This was a conundrum too far but on the day Chelsea deserved exactly what they got: Nothing, and left us with a foothill or two to climb before the Europa proper.

I think that they call that the Spurs way. We await signings, don't hold your breaths, and departures, not Ndombele we're told or Foyth, perhaps Serge and with Parrott gone on loan to Millwall we desperately need Kane backup. 'Twas ever thus.

With Watford relegated Troy Deeney is rumoured to be arriving on on a year long loan. If at first you don't succeed with a back up for Harry K then 'Troy again' seems to be the word. Or 'A Troy for a Troy' as it says in the Old Testament.

He hates Arsenal, allegedly, is more than Premiership ready and honest so a number of boxes ticked.
Would Mourinho and he get on? Hmm.

Hojbjerg rumours are still gaining strength. Watch the double 'J'. when posting. Single 'J' Bergwijn, double 'J' Hojbjerg. Dragging on a bit.

But this all speculation and we prefer to stick to the facts, 'Just the facts ma'am, Just the facts? as Joe Friday used to say. One for our older listeners.

Next Up?
Premiership presumably. The first Premiership games are on the weekend of the 12th. September. but no date has been announced for the publication of the Fixture list.

Draw for our round of the Europa is at the end of this month. The first Europa games in the second Qualifying Round which involves us is Thursday 17th.September. Thanks again Chelsea.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
One of the brightest spots of a disrupted season Giovanni Lo Celso. Expecting great things of this boy next season. Strong, determined and creative.



Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Good outcome for a poor team. Poor outcome for a good one.

Don't miss the chance to tour the famous Gdansk Shipyards.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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We got there by the ends of our much chewed fingernails, 'finger chewing good' and we don't even have to wait to see if Chelsea beat Arsenal in the FA Cup. We can watch it cheering for Chelsea out of choice not necessity although we avoid the qualifiers if Chelsea win.

We are in Pot 1 and Gdansk in Northern Poland is on the tour itinerary. If Arsenal win the Cup they go into the Group stage and Spurs embark on their journey with a behind closed doors one legged tie on Sept 17th in the 2nd Qualifying round.

The following week, (Sept.24th.) sees the 3rd Qualifying round and a week later (Oct 1st) the play-offs. All the qualifiers are one legged. Even Spurs at their 'Spursiest' should be able to beat one legged opponents but one wonders how on earth they qualified.

If Chelsea win, Spurs go straight into the Group Stages (Oct.22nd.) and Wolves would take our place in the second qualifying round. Got all that?  Come on Chelsea, but I had already decided to give them my support for other reasons.
Arsenal would be out in the cold for another year.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. How does this league outcome rate overall? Well it's a good outcome for a poor team and a poor outcome for a good team. You choose.The only solace is that it's more than we might have hoped for at the restart and credit Mourinho for that.

It's our 11th. consecutive season finishing in the top 6. after managing it only twice in the previous 17 seasons.

The performance against Palace was pretty poor with few players living up to their reputations, Harry (5 goals in the last 3 games) Kane), Moura, again, Lo Celso and back to form Toby excepted. The rest were distinctly and unremarkably average except Sissoko who was dreadful.

But, but, but we're on our way to a tour of Europe's lesser known destinations and under Mourinho have improved in league position and hopes for the future if not in playing style which was exactly what Mourinho was appointed for

He does exactly what it says on the tin. though I hope somebody checked the 'sell by' and the 'best before' dates as well before we get too carried away in our assessments. He'll do for now. Hopefully short term football pain for long term gain.

Well maybe, we haven't opened the tin yet and are unsure what exactly we might find. I don't think he'll stay long enough to get us silverware, he won't get the resources he requires and he has problems with some of the resources he already has.

Dier returned at the expense of the improving Sanchez and did OK. Dele re-appeared but made little impact on the match. Lo Celso who was playing pretty well and was instrumental in Harry's sharp opener, winning the ball and setting him up with a fine pass but was strangely substituted.

 Sissoko's hamstring injury has come too late in the season to require a team re-jig. Since his purple patch a couple of seasons ago he has lost all confidence and competence in the basic skills and plays like a frightened rabbit caught in the headlights.

Aurier got up close and personal with Zaha and prevented him from doing too much damage. Why is Zaha still at Palace? He deserves better, not that we could afford him now. Dier returned from his ban and slotted in nicely enough.

Aurier didn't dare venture too far from Zaha and Davies is too clumsy defensively and too slow going forward to compensate. Sessegnon must be absolutely hopeless in training not to be able to replace him. Winks didn't draw much attention to himself which is probably a positive for him.

So taken all round I am not overly impressed with the 'new normal' Tottenham. We conceded a sloppy goal from a goalmouth mix up from another corner won by Scott Dann who almost scored late on with another header.

They were more inventive than us and had more shots and corners. Overall they gave more than they received .
It was a close run thing in the league and but for Harry Kane we wouldn't have got a sniff at Europe.

Season Review stats.
Some telling stats from SUIYHA on 'Spurs Community' which I redistribute with his permission.

Our worst finish for 6 years and the first time in that period we have failed to reach the last 4 in any competition.

We got 12 points fewer than last year and 59 is our worst since the 2 in eight season and Harry Redknapp's arrival.

The goal difference of +14 is half of last seasons, and our lowest in 5 seasons.

Our goal tally of 61 scored is the lowest likewise in 5 seasons and 47 conceded is the most over the same period.

A mere 8 clean sheets is the lowest in the past 13 years and our 4th lowest in 28 Premiership seasons.

Our Home record of 39 points is the 3rd. best in the League. (Behind Liverpool and City)
but our away record of just 4 wins is less than half the the previous 2 seasons.

Mourinho promises modest improvement, just winning the Europa for now and that will certainly keep most people quiet except the 'Never Joses' obviously.

Next Up
Not quite clear yet but the mists will clear after the Cup Final, but it will definitely be in the Europa.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Premiership Goal of the Season for Son, our third against Burnley, a rare goal by Moussa Sissoko and Harry Kane showing the way. once again.


Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Mourinho critics eat Humble Pie


 Just a small slice, for now.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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 In my first blog  after the return to the 'new normal' I said we had 'not a hope in Hell' of Europe next season. We still might miss out if Arsenal win the FA Cup and we fail to overtake Wolves a point ahead of us.

An unlikely double whammy but if you know your History not entirely to be ruled out. If Chelsea win the Cup then 7th will do and Spurs return to some sort of form will be justly rewarded.

Some Humble Pie need to be consumed here. If the Manager takes the Fall for poor performances and results then he must take the plaudits for our current successful run whatever the reasons for it, managerial or not.

We are now playing to our strengths with speed up front for the counter-attacking approach which I don't dislike. With Toby back on form and marshalling his comrade Sanchez well and Lloris flying to our aid when needed we look more competitive.

We beat Leicester in style with the lowest possession stats (29%) for a winning performance that I can remember. The general statistics were similar to Newcastle and demonstrates that our two World Class finishers give us the edge.

Newcastle:  1 goal from 22 shots with 8 on target. 
Tottenham:  3 goals from 8 shots with 5 on target.


Leicester......0 goals from 20+ shots with 6 on target.
Tottenham: .3 goals from 7 shots with just 3 on target.

Harry Kane is back with relish, Son and Moura supporting at speed. The whole outlook is more positive with even Harry Winks and Ben Davies playing the ball forward more quickly and again Lloris kicking long.

Since Mourinho came we are 4th in a nominal league and since the re-start have won 5 drawn 2 and only lost one. We are playing more as a team with a game plan that suits the players even if the fans are not enthusiastic.

So whatever Mourinho is doing off the field and during the games is working. Whether because the players have adjusted to the man and his methods or the man is cutting his coat according to the available cloth, I know not.
 
Both Harry's goals and his outside of the foot pass down the line from within his own half for Son's deflected og. opener after just six minutes were a delight and proof of his all round ability if any were needed. 

Cutting out the middleman by more direct play affects the contribution of Lo Celso who struggled to make an impact. Though he contributed to the breakaway for Harry's first.

 I was impressed again by Harvey Barnes (22) and if we hadn't already signed Clarke from Leeds I wouldn't mind a bid. Youri Tielemans (23) always strikes the eye and you can't have too many Belgians in the squad or young players almost called Harry.

It was Kane's 16th, goal in 14 games against Leicester more than against any other team and he would clearly love to play them every week. This was our first 4th. consecutive win at New White Hart Lane.

One small carp: 3-0 up at half-time but Oliver Skipp, future Spurs captain and assorted hogwash couldn't even get on for more than a couple of minutes. Like Jedson a mere token appearance to waste time.

Tanganga and Sess could have got 15 minutes and all the substitutions were done very late. With a week until the final game I can see no justification for this. Lamela and Bergwijn could have been given longer too (Subbed on 77 minutes)

I will eat another slice of pie if we qualify for the Europa and a whole damn pie if we win it next season.

7th is assured, we are 4 points ahead of Sheffield United. We need to do better than Wolves who are away to Chelsea in the final game to make 6th and the Cup Final result will then be irrelevant.
Come on Chelsea do us a favour.

Breaking News. 
New contract for Dier until 2024. Deserved on recent form, Mourinho likes him and another 50 million saved. 239 appearance, 11 goals.

Next Up (final game)
Crystal Palace away on Sunday 26th July at 4pm. Palace have lost their last seven games a first for Roy Hodgson so what can possible go wrong.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
The Highlights. Spurs 3 Leicester 0
Moura with two assists and some good defensive work.
The opener survived two VAR checks so let's hear no complaints about VAR. Well not this week anyway



Friday, 17 July 2020

Finishing touch for Spurs


Harry and Son taking goals to Newcastle.
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The Jimmy G2 Column.
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Arsenal at White heart Lane were worse than I expected: Newcastle at home were better. We won both games anyway to complete 4 wins, 2 draws and a loss since lockdown ended. Mustn't grumble until we see what happens at Leicester.

Is Mourinho getting the hang of this Tottenham thing? His first win ever up there, so well pleased all round. The first 20 minutes was mainly Newcastle, in fact they shaded possession, shots,  shots on target, and corners in the game.

The difference was in the finishing. We have two world class strikers and they don't have any. They scored 1 goal from 22 shots with 8 on target. We scored 3 goals from 8 shots with 5 on target

They have  a couple of quality players (Saint-Maximin mainly) and Matt Ritchie scored a screamer from the left of the box but we wore them down, they had little answer to the speed of Son, Moura and later Bergwijn and the finishing of Son and Harry Kane.

Serge played despite his problems and we won't mention his careless clearance that set up their equaliser. Toby was as his usual competent self and Lamela played well when he came on and set up Harry's second header.

Sissoko was strong but cleared the ball into no-man's-land too often. A better team performance all round and the same 11 will probably start at Leicester. At least we get nearly 3 days rest for this one.

 
In a nominal league since Mourinho came we are 4th. to Manchester United's 3rd. It's the right direction certainly. there is plenty of room for improvement but we have a decent chance of getting into the Europa which I had written off at the restart.

I like the fact that we are playing the ball forward more quickly and playing to our strengths rather than trying to impose square solutions on round holes. Neither full back is suited to the short ball from the keeper for a start.

More tactical changes are made mid game and the new-fangled quarter breaks are instrumental in allowing the managers instructions to be clearly laid out. Our shape is much more fluid  from 442 to 4321 to 4312 and stopping at all stations in between.

One thing I don't understand is Mourinho's insistence on playing the same players and then complaining  that they are tired. Of course they're tired the matches are coming thick and fast and they don't get any rest.

With Dele injured and now N'dombele and Dier suspended he is short of choices but Skipp, Sess and Vertonghen could have been used more and earlier use of the five available substitutes would have been sensible.

Tanganga, Gedson and Lamela were all on the bench, any one of them could have started and given the exhausted ones an hour. Anyway he ain't doing bad so let's wait and see at Leicester.

We are nicely tucked in 7th. a point ahead of Sheffield United and a point behind Wolves. I won't look up too far because I will get a crick in my neck but 7th. or even 6th. is doable.Our last game is against Palace who are in free-fall.

Breaking Good News.
Oliver Skipp has signed a new contract until 2024, is tipped as a future captain but will probably  go on loan next season .

Breaking bad News.
Dele and Ndombele probably out for last two games. Aurier is on compassionate leave in France with his family and uncertain for Leicester

Next Up.
Leicester at WHL on Sunday 19th. July at 4pm.. A draw might just be enough to progress to Europe with Palace as the final game.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
The man himself,
You can't help but love him, at times. The 'Special One building' something special.
You're only tired if you think you're tired. Nice and well deserved tribute to Harry.
201 league goals up and counting.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Spurs Fans not Holding their Breath.

Although this might come in handy.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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Well that'll do nicely. Even more so because it was unexpected and crucial if we are to have any chance of qualifying for the Europa next season. Mourinho's first NLD, a win and a better performance.

We gave them possession, defended deep and used much quicker ball to our two man attack. Lloris cleared long on almost every occasion and apart from Davies who can't help himself there was  a gratifying absence of keep ball along the back four.

But even Davies was more progressive playing forward down the line frequently to Moura and hitting a fine shot which Martinez finger-tipped onto the bar.We had 15 shots, 9 on target: they had 13,4 on target so the game plan worked.
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Lo Celso was instrumental in this dropping in and Sissoko running out with ball. Moura and Son supplied the speed on the breakout and Harry Kane was more involved though tightly marked. We increasingly exploited the space in behind.

442  was  used successfully and the central defenders, Sanchez and Toby were strong. Aurier was even worse than usual, his miscontrol leading to Lacazette's stunning opener.

All very progressive in a reactionary sort of way. We may have found a blueprint for the rest of the season. So credit Mourinho who devised or rediscovered the strategy and it worked against a poor defensive Arsenal outfit.

We were level within 3 minutes, a sloppy pass by Kolasinac caught Luiz half asleep and provided an opportunity for Son who chipped the keeper who went down too soon. Son looked much more like his old self.

In fact if Martinez had been an inch shorter than his 6ft.5'' Harry Kane would have an early opener as he almost lobbed him when set up by Son. They're not an ideal pairing, both on the greedy side, but combined well at times.

Moura and Son both pressed and pressured the Arsenal defence and though not quite up to peak Pochettino again it was effective. Moura had a good game, haunting Bellerin and doing his share in defensive covering.

Arsenal played some neat approach work but Lloris saved the only testing shot from Aubameyang, The woodwork helped out on another occasion and Martinez was by far the busier keeper. He made at least 3 good saves from Harry.

We are snug in 8th, now two points ahead of Arsenal and two behind Sheffield Utd.with three to play. Our superior goal difference might just help at the wire.

With the Man City ban having been lifted, surprise, surprise, only points now mean potential prizes. 8th doesn't cut it and we have Leicester to play next Sunday. Not quite all over bar the shouting.

Son with a well taken goal and the corner that Alderweireld nodded home for the winner with ten minutes to go was the pick of the players. But a better all round performance though consistently top class football this was not.

It was a game of moments; the two quality first half goals, Aubameyang and Davies striking the woodwork, Spurs increasing penetration and Alderweireld's winning goal. We had slightly more moments than them and were deserved winners.

High point for me was the 10 minute cameo of young Oliver Skipp who I made MOM as I may not get another chance to nominate him.

We stuck to the game plan and came back well to win. Nobody played badly though there were plenty of errors along the way. Arteta has a bigger job than Mourinho but we are so unpredictable that final placings are difficult to predict.

Two mid-table teams in an important contest for bragging rights and the chance for Europe in which both Managers expressed their interest. It might just inspire us for the final three games but I'm not holding my breath.

Breaking News.
Sad time for Serge. Club and Musings send deepest condolences.

''A younger brother of Tottenham player Serge Aurier has been shot dead in the French city of Toulouse, reportedly outside a night club. Christopher Aurier (26) died in hospital.''

Next Up.
Newcastle (Away) on Wednesday 15th. July at 6pm..

Jimmy's Video Spot.

The moments.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Starting from Scratch

Beached at Bournemouth: More Dunkirk Retreat than Normandy Landings.

The JimmyG2 Column
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Hands up those who thought that Everton was rock bottom and that it couldn't get any worse. Well you got that wrong me hearties. We are exploring depths never before imagined by Spurs fans and it could get worse.

Not one shot on target against a team doomed for relegation who have lost their last five games. Once again Harry Kane had more touches in our penalty area than he did in theirs and I lost count of misplaced passes.

We had more of the ball than Bournemouth but did less with it. In fact Lloris made a couple of good saves but they had 2 goals disallowed to give us only our 2nd clean sheet in 24 away matches in the Premiership.

This was the first time Bournemouth have stopped an opponent from having a single attempt on target in a Premier League match, in their186th game and the first time a side managed by Mourinho failed to have a shot on target in a Premier League fixture for over a decade. (BBC)

So Spurs made History as their season dribbled away into the Bournemouth sand. Oh How are the Mighty Fallen.

On 6 minutes Harry Kane was shoved to the ground in the area by King with both hands in his back but no penalty was awarded even after a VAR check. From there it was all downhill. Jose was quite rightly miffed.

But it would have spoilt the game if it had been awarded. What am I saying! This game was ripe for spoiling, but no such luck. Nobody apart from Lloris and N'dombele showed any spark. Toby and Davies were bordering on solid; the rest were not.

Dier's four match, long delayed suspension gives Mourinho another distraction issue to chew on. It was harsh though he deserved some sanction for a clearly ill-judged transgression. And just as he was finding some form in central defence.

So Mourinho can pull up the drawbridge, lower the portcullis, stock the moat with alligators, boil up the oil and obscure the awful performances with some kind of dubious justification and adopt his usual  'My Team against the World' position.

But this whole performance was shambolic, even Lo Celso struggled to make any impression,; Lamela went solo and the rest played like a scratch orchestra tuning up. Not ideal preparation for an NLD with even more importance than usual.

Ndombele inspired a ten minute revival just before the end but it was too little too late with every player bent on investigating blind alleys as if they were paths to glory.

I used to judge opposition teams by how many of their team would make it into ours. Every member of the Bournemouth squad would be an adornment to Spurs at the moment especially Ake and Wilson.

Skipp might inspire some true Spurs mentality and enthusiasm for the NLD but his treatment has been deplorable. Play 'em, loan 'em or sell 'em. Cirkin was rumoured to be starting ahead of Sessegnon but wasn't even on the bench.

In the meantime Spurs are beached, beachier than a beached whale. Win on Sunday and hopes of floating off and heading out to sea are revived but drastic measures maybe required. Ever given mouth to mouth on a dying whale?

Anyone hoping that Mourinho will walk away in shame is deluded, on 13 million he's here for the duration and the compensation if Levy were to sack him would make stronger men than him blanch.

If he is making a case for massive investment he's picked the wrong club and boss. So this could all drag on until well into next season or even longer. If this lot can't be bothered newer and younger blood might be needed. 

Mourinho can't be blamed for this situation: we sprang a leak long before he came. But he hasn't the equipment needed to bale the boat out. He's more suited to be the Captain of a sleek ocean liner rather than the rusting tug boat we have become.

Next up 
Arsenal at home in the North London Derby on Sunday 12th. July at 4:30 pm.
My seat behind the sofa is already booked. 

Jimmy's Video Spot.

Lovely song, beautifully song and good advice for all stressed out Spurs fans.
And who amongst us is not? Go on hang tough people, nobody will believe you.


Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Mourinho sets to work.



The JimmyG2 Column.
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We seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater with the arrival of Mourinho as Manager. Inevitable I suppose with a man that always thinks he's bigger than the club.

So farewell 'fair play', farewell Tottenham's proud history and reputation. very soon we will be the Chelsea of old, haranguing and crowding the ref, disputing every decision, even throw-ins. All sacrificed on the altar to the ego of Mourinho.

And for what? Nada so far and for the foreseeable future. We have also sacrificed the hope of playing entertaining football too but we knew that when he was appointed. All in the hope of a trophy. The cure is worse than the disease

Apart from that how did you enjoy the game JimmyG? What's to enjoy? We got the three points by being slightly less rubbish than Everton. There was very little football to enjoy. Neither side could  score but Keane diverted a shot by Lo Celso which was going wide past Pickford.
 
 Mourinho was well pleased because Lloris showed some spirit  by calling out Son for some minor offence.  They made up at full time but this incident was the focus of everybody's  attention. Probably a put up job from the start.

According to Mourinho the clash was 'beautiful' and because of it the players grew up.From now on apparently they will demand more and give more. Clutching at straws if you ask me. One shove and all is well, I think not.

Apparently behaving like hooligans is the key to success, rows are good for team spirit and Mourinho is ready to forgo the Fair Play Cup something he has never won and is not interested in winning. Have we got the right man?

He has emptied the bath but thrown out the essential Tottenhamness of the club he has been appointed to manage. I remember when we played the right way and in the right spirit and won trophies as the inevitable result.

Against Sheffield the diversionary tactic was to claim that the VAR decision was the cause of our collapse. Grown men earning millions a year put off by  a dud decision. It used to be ref. now its the technology.

Focus on anything but the football. Dier and Lo Celso played reasonably well. It was good to see Toby back and in some sort of form. Sad not to see Ndombele who played a decent cameo last time.

Harry Kane had more touches of the ball in our area than he had in theirs; Sissoko seems to have lost all confidence in his limited passing ability; Moura was head down as usual; Davis invariably turns back at the first hint of trouble; everyone else was average.

I would like to see Skipp start in place of Sissoko; Sessengnon instead of Davis, and Bergwijn rather than Moura.

Neither side put the opposition under any sort of sustained pressure and there was very little joined up football. Misplaced passes led to the breakdown of almost every attack.

So with 5 games left we are back to 8th. level with Sheffield and  2 points behind Arsenal who we play at the weekend with a game in hand. Before then we have an arguably winnable game away to Bournemouth  who like Norwich have lost their last five.

Newcastle, Leicester, and Crystal Palace complete our run in. On the face of it not too difficult to manage especially with our new found determination and team spirit.

And food for thought Jose Liverpool the current Premiership Champions are also leading the Fair Play rankings with Leicester and Chelsea in the top three We lie in 19th. place just above Arsenal who are bottom.

You don't have to be rubbish at football to win the Fair Play league apparently.

Next up.
Bournemouth (away) on Thursday 9th. July at 6pm.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Well you asked for it.The highlights including that incident. Much Ado About Nothing but the hug and  make-up is missing. Poor show Spurs and you too Everton.