So, Spurs it is. In midweek. Presumably to accommodate the Premier League’s winter break.
But it gives the Canary Nation the chance to mobilise and, for a few hours at least, make a little patch of north London our own.
(Apologies to our friends in blue for paraphrasing their wistful “a little corner of Norfolk that will be forever blue” trope, but they’ll understand).
It promises to be quite an event with, based on the FA’s 15% of the stadium capacity rule for cup games, us taking 9000 to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium – one of the biggest, if not the biggest, away following to pitch up at their new ground. [Note: the club have since confirmed they have requested the full allocation of 9000].
And we’ll make a racket, a proper racket, and offer Daniel Farke’s chosen XI the best platform possible to progress to unchartered 21st-century territory. Since 2000 we’ve only made the fifth round on three previous occasions – 2002/03, 2006/07 and 2011/12 – and so to have won two consecutive ties already is quite the Norwich City achievement.
We’re doing it the hard way though. Three consecutive away games against opponents deemed favorites – some bookies even fancied Preston to beat us – and can virtually guarantee that if we were to beat Tottenham, then we’ll be away in the quarter-finals, probably to the winner of Chelsea vs Liverpool.
Imagine that… a quarterfinal at, say, Anfield. Maybe even Klopp would turn up for that one. Oh, how chirpy they’d be. But that’s way off. We have another of Daniel’s mountains to climb before we can even think about it.
While they have already lost and drawn to Spurs – both in the Jose Mourinho era – City were outstanding on both occasions and so unlucky not to emerge with two wins. But for VAR’s intervention – yes I know, technically it was blo0dy correct – we would have beaten them at Carrow Road and our chances of avoiding the you-know-what would have been enhanced.
But, arguably, the second-half performance at their place was even better. More of the same on March 4, or whenever the BBC or BT Sport decide, will give us a real shot at winning the tie.
One thing we do have to overcome, aside from any technical challenges on the pitch, is the fact that Mourinho, so far, has all the makings of a “lucky” Spurs manager; something they used to say about Terry Venables. Anyone who watched them on Sunday against Man City and last night against Southampton will know what I mean.
He may still regard himself at the Special One. He can definitely be the Grumpy One. He can also on occasion be the Charming One, but my god has he been the Lucky One over the last month.
But can it last until March? Or has he an unlimited supply?
Either way, there is almost nothing about this one that isn’t mouthwatering, other than that it’s not at Carrow Road.
The last time (I think) we travelled in such numbers, was to the Emirates – just four and a bit miles down the A503 – in the League Cup of 2017/18, in the early days of the Webber/Farke era. A quoted 9000 also made the journey that night and created a din that woke Piers Morgan from his slumbers and got right under the skin of their prawn sandwich brigade.
We were unlucky that night too – losing in extra-time to a goal from Eddie Nketiah – but with a team that included only three possible starters for the Tottenham game. It was a night when Christoph Zimmermann first entered the consciousness of those outside Norfolk; Arsene Wenger reportedly enquiring of his background.
That the Tottenham game is sandwiched between two league games – Leicester (h) and Sheffield Utd (a) – which may be crucial, shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a squad that’s still fresh from a Championship Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday grind, with Mourinho’s men theoretically one day worse off, with a game at home to Wolves on Sunday, March 1.
The odds on Jose mentioning that in his pre-match presser, anyone?
So, it’s off to Tottenham High Road we go, with hope in our heart.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, we came away with more than just pride.
On the Ball City…