|OPPONENTS||West Bromwich Albion|
|DATE||Saturday 12th April 2014|
With a win over Norwich City last week, which cost Chris Hughton his
job, West Bromwich Albion moved further away from the drop zone. Not
far enough just yet, but it was a significant win in the survival
New boss Pepe Mel replaced Steve Clarke, but has struggled to turn the side around quickly, with a series of draws, but that win gave him some breathing space. He will need it, as the battle for the drop is narrowing down to about four teams now. Fulham and Cardiff City look favourites, with Norwich, WBA and Swansea City, although a bad run could drag Crystal Palace and Aston Villa into the dog-fight.
However, they were rocked by a last minute equaliser from Cardiff City at home, which caused a ruck in the dressing room, much like the allegation about Spurs at Anfield, but Albion's did take place and players seemingly came out to happily discuss it in the papers. Quite how this might be good for team morale, I am not sure, but obviously, it was something they thought it would bring the team together at a time they need to be united. As for Spurs, there were denials, with some players disappearing from the match-day squad for the next match without explanation.
Defensively, the Baggies have looked brittle. Ben Foster in goal has been solid and a liability in turn. A capable shot stopper, he has managed to get caught out in no-man's land when confronted with forwards bearing down on him. One in a long line of keepers who may crack under pressure, Spurs will need to replicate their accuracy of Monday night's display to force errors out of him. Playing behind Liam Ridgewell, Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley and Steven Reid has been a tough task. The players all have premier League experience, but are becoming a little long in the tooth and slow in the foot to maintain a solid enough screen for their keeper. Ridgewell and Reid have seen service with teams who tended to inhabit the lower reaches of the top flight, while Olsson and McAuley are internationals in their won right, but find it tough against players of a higher quality, who have more elusive movement and don't just rely on brute strength in a one on one. Diego Lugano has made the squad lately, with an ability to play left back or centre of defence, but Craig Dawson and Billy Jones have not featured as much of late.
With star man James Morrison a doubt in midfield, it could help Tottenham, but destroyer Claudio Yacob is likely to be back, along with Northern Ireland wide midfielder and dead ball expert, Chris Brunt. With Scot Graham Dorrans back in the fold and strong tackling Youssuf Mulumbu, there is the ability to mix things up in the middle of the park. Dorrans and Mulumbu like to get forward, as does Stephane Sessignon, who has the skill and ability to set up chances as well as force his way into the area to score.
In attack, they have the England Under-21 striker (or struck in the case of the after Cardiff match set to) Saido Berahino, French loanee Thievy Bifouma, Watford loan striker Matej Vydra and former Everton front man Victor Anichebe are the options. Vydra scored lots last season in the Championship, but has struggled in stepping up to the Premier League, while Anichebe is an injury prone forward, but he has scored a few more goals with more outings for West Brom. Berahino is lightning quick and has a finisher's craft, not panicking in situations in front of goal. Bifouma, I don't know much about, but he ahs scored a couple of goals in the Prem for Albion and needs to be kept on a tight rein. One of the bright spots of the season has been the form of Morgan Amalfitano, who has scored some very good goals and against top teams too. A good runner with the bal, he also possesses a strong shot, so Spurs will have to be aware if he gets near the 25 yard distance.
Spurs looked a little more solid at the back with Chiriches in the side, after he had handed Sunderland a goal, so, hopefully, he will be able to snuff out any threat from the Baggies attack, while I imagine that Sherwood will start with Kane up front alongside Ade. The key might be the wide play and Christian Eriksen's involvement, as he has come alive in the last few matches.
With the need for points still pressing for the Baggies, a win would be what they might fancy against Spurs, but away from home, Tottenham are a different proposition and only six wins all season, that might be a tough ask. With fourteen draws, this might look the most likely ending on paper, but I think Tottenham will have enough over the home team to win.
|PREDICTION||West Bromwich Albion 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tim Sherwood will stick with the squad that beat Sunderland, with Erik Lamela (back), Michael Dawson (hamstring), Mousa Dembele (knee), Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Roberto Soldado (hamstring) and Etienne Capoue (ankle) all out injured.
ALBION TEAM NEWS :
Midfielder James Morrison may be missing with an ankle injury, but midfielders Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob are back after injuries. Zoltan Gera will miss the game with a hamstring injury.
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Bromwich Albion (3) Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 12th April 2014 Kick off 15:07
Olsson (o.g.) 34
Dorrans (foul on Lennon) 62
Reid (foul on Kane) 64
Ridgewell (foul on Naughton) 84
Foster (time-wasting) 90+4
Rose (simulation) 55
Eriksen (foul on Dorrans) 90
|Crowd : 25,398||Weather : Sunny, warm|
|Referee : Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. L. Betts; Mr. A. Halliday|
|Fourth Official : Kevin Friend||-|
|West Bromwich Albion kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 8 minutes.|
|West Bromwich Albion :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
1 Ben FOSTER
2 Steven REID
20 Matej VYDRA (38 Saido BERAHINO 72)
|Manager : Pepe Mel||Manager : Tim Sherwood|
|Sponsor : Zoopla||Shirt sponsor : Hewlett Packard|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
With slow starts having been the theme of this season, a goal by Matej Vydra in the first 25 seconds put Tottenham behind before a lot of fans had drawn breath.
With Albion kicking off, there was barely a touch on the ball by a Spurs player before Amalfitano beat Danny Rose too easily on the Tottenham left and fired a low cross that Hugo Lloris pushed out at the near post, but straight into the middle of the box, where Vydra set himself to power a shot past Lloris as he tried to recover his position.
The last time we conceded a goal so early, Manchester City went on to record a 6-0 win. However, the one goal soon became two down inside five minutes, as Reid's lofted cross was headed on to the far post and Chris Brunt was on his own to strike a low left foot volley that curled off the outside of his foot to hit the net.
Amalfitano went down on the edge of the box, when Eriksen challenged him, but didn't touch him, but s he lay on the floor, Kaboul looked as if he caught the Baggies midfielder on the head, but whether it was intended or not, it was unclear. Tottenham took seven minutes to have a shot at goal, when a long ball was laid off by Adebayor and Kane moved it to his right to hit a low shot that finished up a foot wide of Foster's right hand post without the keeper moving.
There was a great opportunity for Harry Kane when Eriksen freed Rose down the left. the full back's ball along the ground was to the near post and Kane met it. with nobody else near him, but from a yard out, he managed to put the ball wide of the goal. It was a golden chance to get Spurs back into the match.
Spurs did get the opportunity to reduce the arrears in the 15th minute, when Danny Rose was bundled over by Amalfitano in the area. Up stepped Adebayor and side-footed it straight to Foster's left and the keeper had time to fall on it and make an easy save. It was an appalling effort by a striker who had been scoring for fun. It was an odd one to win the penalty in the first place, as an award of a spot-kick looked much more likely at the other end, where striped shirts hit the ground every time they got challenged in the area.
A free kick for a cynical elbow to Danny Rose's head by Reid came to nothing and when Albion launched their next attack, they almost went 3-0 ahead. Spurs were sucked inside to go to Mulumbu with the ball and he played in Amalfiano on their right, just inside the right hand corner of the box. He struck a sweet shot, but luckily for Spurs, Hugo stood up to it and had strong enough wrists to push it up and over the bar.
Without a defensive midfielder in the side, Spurs were making it easy for Albion's swarming midfielders to get in the spaces in front of the back four. Paulinho did get a shot straight at Foster a minute before the half an hour mark, but there was a characteristic slowness about the build-up that allowed lots of striped shirts get behind the ball and squeeze the space available.
The way the possession was going, Spurs should have made it count, but the crosses into the box were not picking out blue shirts. So when Lennon lost the ball in the WBA area, a long ball came off Kaboul's head to put Sessignon away, Chiriches couldn't keep up with him and the Benin international beat Lloris from inside the box as the keeper went one way, the ball went the other.
There was a huge element of luck when Tottenham did get on the score-sheet, as Kane slipped a ball inside the full back and Kyle Naughton's cross was deflected over Foster by the out-stretched leg of Olsson as he slid to try and stop the ball.
It seemed to inspire Tottenham, as a breakaway saw Paulinho hit a bobbling shot from outside the area and Foster did well to push it wide, but Rose was there and he screwed his shot on target, but the keeper had got back to beat it out. It could easily have been three or four all at the break. The first half had almost everything except a sending off, but if this is what Sherwood means by having fun, then he can keep it. Get your coat Tim !!
The second half started with Spurs attacking and fro a position where Brunt scored his goal, Paulinho's cross was headed out to Rose, who hit a volley that went a yard wide of the goal. Then Paulinho squared to Lennon, who came inside to hit a left foot shot along the ground that Foster pushed side for a corner. A free kick followed shortly after and Eriksen's shot was bent ion from the left wing and was heading to the top corner at Foster's near post until the goalie fumbled it round the post.
Danny Rose went to ground in the box under challenge by Reid and got booked for simulation, then Kaboul and Reid had a set to, which brought a talking to from the referee. Being under pressure from the start of the second half, Mel brought on Yacob to add even more bite to the Baggies midfield. This resulted in a little spell of West Brom players having a kick at Lennon to try and bully him off the ball. Interesting that the referee deems this acceptable while a dive gets a yellow card for the first offence until he had to take action as Lennon was brought down cynically by Dorrans as he ran away from him. Reid soon followed him into the book with a trip on Kane.
For all Tottenham's increased urgency and possession, they rarely got through the packed home defence. Spurs were almost reading the Albion's plays and picking the ball off started to get in on goal. Naughton's ball in to Kane was saved by a last ditch tackle by McAuley and then when the next phase of play saw Paulinho's low diagonal ball across the box. Kane only just failed to get on the end of it, with Foster spreading himself in case the Spurs youngster got a touch. When Lennon went down the right wing in the 70th minute and stood up a cross to the far post, Kane did get a decent contact and his header went in off Dorrans on the line. The goal came at a time when it looked like Spurs were not going to break through, but it rattled the home team and they resorted to throwing the ball away when free-kicks were given and wasting as much time as possible at throw-ins, getting treatment and making a substitution. I also think referees these days appear to be unable to count to six, as Foster was regularly hanging onto the ball in his hands for a count of eight ... and a slow count at that.
Eriksen had a shooting opportunity when Adebayor won a header, but he could not quite wrap his foot around it enough to get it on target. Sigurdsson replaced Chadli and Spurs were pushing all the harder to get one back. When Kaboul played the ball from the right into Adebayor's feet, his shot on the turn as blocked and the ball ran left into Danny Rose's path, but he skied his effort way over the bar.
Twice Ridgewell headed the ball away when Kaboul threw it it ho to take a throw, but the referee only booked him when he fouled Naughton. The performance by referee Swarbrick was pathetic and there is nothing more that frustrates fans than seeing teams get a way with time-wasting and Albion were seeking every second. Coupled with a bad foul on Gylfi near the end, Swarbrick needs to be down-graded for the health and safety of the players if nothing else.
What was a good position for Spurs was wasted, when Eriksen put in Fryers on the left and his low cross only found the first man. As Albion tried to run the clock down, Spurs kept going forward and Lennon chipped an added time cross from the right that was headed out to the far post,. Christian Eriksen took the ball down, steadied himself for a right foot shot that ripped into the roof of the net. 3-3 !!
It was all Albion deserved for their negative second half display and their blatant attempts to run time down back-fired when Spurs hit back at the end and pressed for a winner in the six minutes added on at the end of the 90. With the referee booking Foster for holding onto the ball when the third Spurs goal went in was a joke. How many times does it take for them to realise that booking players early on might stop them time-wasting again ?
For Tottenham, they need to look at how they are starting matches. We don't score in the first fifteen minutes, but we are now starting to give goals away inside that period and then have to come back to beat teams. Let's get ahead and then drive our advantage home. That's what Spurs fans want to see Tim.
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|What you thought|
|Benny the Ball||I guess Amalfitano will be the one being hit on in the West Brom dressing room this week after giving away the ball outside the Spurs penalty area and it leading to our Christian Eriksen equaliser.|
|East Stan||About the only thing the ref got right today was adding six minutes on at the end. Surely he must have cottoned on that the constant kicking the ball away was designed to try and get Albion a win ... in any way they can. Great fans, but they deserve better than they are getting, so I hope that they go down. Play football and you might win some games !!|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Crystal Palace||1||Aston Villa||0||Saturday|
|Stoke City||1||Newcastle United||0||Saturday|
|Arsenal||3||West Ham United||1||Tuesday|
|11||West Ham United||34||10||7||17||38||47||37||-9|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||40||51||33||-11|
Position before match :
Position after match : 6th
Position after the weekend : 6th
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