|OPPONENTS||West Bromwich Albion|
|DATE||Saturday 26th November 2011|
Tottenham's good run has taken the to third as Harry Redknapp returns to the bench, while his opposite number is someone the Spurs boss admires and has quietly been getting on with things at the Hawthorns, shaping West Bromwich Albion into a side that are hard to beat. The team have developed the knack of taking points off the teams around them and making life difficult for those who are not.
With keeper Ben Foster making the move across the Second City to stay in the top flight, he is trying to prove he can be the keeper people once thought he would become. With some good performances, he is steadily re-building his reputation after being part of the relegated Birmingham City side last season and while he has a good ability as a shot-stopper, his handling of crosses and his distribution are not areas can can afford to ignore in training. Backing him up is former Spurs keeper Marton Fulop, who plays more games for Hungary than he does for Albion these days.
The defence is a strong one, with Hodgson reinvigorating Nicky Shorey's career and the full back has been putting in some good performances of late. The only draw back of the WBA back line is the lack of pace. Olsson, Tamas, McAuley and Jones are not noted for their speed and they might get found out with the likes of Lennon, Walker and Bale flying up the line. Steven Reid has been deployed in defence just to add a bit of bite to the back four.
Paul Scharner's probable absence in midfield leaves them without a battler who gets forward. Mulumbu and Tchoyi have not been regular starters, so that leaves the engine room with a lack of power, but with more creative players such as Morrison, Brunt, Dorrans and Thomas. They will find that they have some work to do to hold back the Tottenham midfield, but Spurs must match their work-rate to establish supremacy in that area of the pitch. Scott Parker's lead in covering a huge amount of the pitch would inspire the rest of the team.
The Baggies attack of Long and Odemwingie could be missing, leaving Simon Cox, who scored a wonder goal at White Hart lane last season to grab a draw, paired with Roman Bednar, who is a strong forward, but lacks a little finesse. It is the lack of goals which has cost Albion points with just 11 goals in 12 games and only five scored at home.
Tottenham should be able to prolong their unbeaten run, but need to be aware that Hodgson will have prepared his team well and that they will be a tough proposition to break down as other clubs have found this season.
|PREDICTION||West Bromwich Albion 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
ALBION TEAM NEWS :
Striker Shane Long took a knock on his leg in training and may be a doubt for Saturday's match, while fellow striker Peter Odemwingie is hopeful of playing after being out with knee injury, as is midfielder Paul Scharner.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are still without Michael Dawson (Achilles), William Gallas (calf), Danny Rose (ankle), Niko Kranjcar (thigh) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle), with doubts over Jermain Defoe (hamstring) and Rafael van der Vaart (hamstring), but everyone else seems like they might be up for consideration, with Roman Pavlyuchenko recovering form his back injury.
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West Bromwich Albion 1 (1)
Saturday 26th November 2011
Venue : The Hawthorns
Tottenham Hotspur 3 (1)
Kick off 15:00
Mulumbu (seeking a yellow card for an opponent) 39
Brunt (foul) 67
Sandro (foul) 21
|Crowd : 24,801||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : Lee Probert (Wiltshire)||Assistant Referees : S Ledger; D. Richardson|
|Fourth Official : Martin Atkinson||-|
|West Bromwich Albion kicked off and played towards the Smethwick end in the first half.|
|West Bromwich Albion :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
|Manager : Roy Hodgson||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : Bodog||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Puma|
With an eerie reminiscence of the Fulham match, Spurs wrapped up three points at West Bromwich Albion in added time at the end of the game, but this time they didn't have quite as much pressure to soak up and the 3-1 score-line was a fair reflection of the chances created and more tellingly, the finishing of the two sides.
Tottenham were deprived of both Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric, as they arrived for the game at the Hawthorns, but with Jermain Defoe overcoming a tight groin to start and with Sandro slotting in alongside Scott Parker, the team did not feel that loss that keenly. van der Vaart had not recovered from a tired hamstring and Luka was ill overnight and he was sent home as a precaution.
With Albion having their own injury issues ... namely, a row between Roy Hodgson and Peter Odemwingie over the severity of his knee knock, Albion set out in 4-4-2 style to match Tottenham, who reverted to a more traditional set-up with Defoe playing up alongside Adebayor.
Albion kicked off and tried to make their way into Spurs territory and had a shot from Gera that went over inside the first five minutes, but Tottenham's first foray forward almost lead to an opener, with Sandro turning away from his marker when heading back towards his own goal and then unleashing a 30 yarder that skidded off the turf and caused Foster an anxious moment, as it slipped through his black and squirted away for a corner. But it came to nothing and then five minutes later, Spurs found themselves in the unusual position of being behind in a match.
A move started down the Tottenham left and was broken up down the middle before the ball was spread right to Steven Reid, who put in a first time cross to the middle of the box. Youssef Mulumbu made a well timed run and with the ball having enough pace on it, he only had to get a decent forehead to the ball to direct it past Friedel, who seemed to dive quite high to get a header angled downwards. The scorer had made a run that saw Younes Kaboul standing a yard off him, leaving him unchallenged, although Bale wasn't that close to Reid when he put the cross in. With the Hawthorns being a place that Spurs have not been too successful at over the recent past, it looked like it might be tough to get back in the game.
Soon after the goal, Albion lost Gera who got his studs stuck in the turf and he seemed to turn his knee, leading to Simon Cox replacing him ... someone who has experience fop scoring against us (at the Lane last season). However, eight minutes on from the change, Spurs put together a good move on the right, with Lennon and Adebayor linking well to pass around a couple of defenders to release the little winger, who raced away from Shorey, who pulled him back as he went for the run in on goal and the ref pointed to the spot. With no van der Vaart or Pavlyuchenko, Emmanuel stepped up to the spot with the ball and calmly took the penalty, putting it low to Foster's right. However, that was exactly where the goalkeeper had dived, stopping the ball, but being unable to do any more than push it straight out in front of him, allowing Adebayor to get to the rebound first and hit it into an empty net.
The game was a fairly open one with both sides creating chances, with Brunt's shot flying over and Ledley winning a header at a free kick, but he could not get it on target. The home fans felt hard done by when Thomas went down under challenge from Walker, but referee Probert was unimpressed, as he should have been by the former Gooner winger's fall to earth. The ref also got it right when a cross from the right wing by Reid deflected off Benoit Assou-Ekotto's backside into the air and looked like it might loop just under the bar, but Brad took the ball high in the air and as his feet came to ground, McAuley charged in and tried to bundle him into the net. The keeper took the ball away from him, dangerously near his own line, but the whistle went for a foul on the keeper and Spurs re-started with a free-kick, to much derision from the home support.
It was nice to see the referee book Mulumbu for beseeching him to give Sandro another yellow card that would have seen him sent off. Perhaps he was starting to get frustrated after seeing the lead he had given WBA get hauled back. Both sides had 25 yard shots on target, with Friedel saving comfortably from Morrison and Foster doing the same from Adebayor. The Baggies fans once more had it in for the referee when Shane Long went to ground running alongside Ledley King on the way into the box, but he was just not strong enough and while the crowd were trying to get the match official to even things up, it would have been very harsh had he given this one.
Mulumbu almost had the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears just before the break, when he was slipped through on the left of the box and his low shot was kept out by Friedel's leg, when it was a very good chance to put Albion in the lead at the interval. But instead, Adebayor's header that looked like it might loop in was grabbed by Foster and the sound at half time was of jeers for the referee.
The second half was similar in content if not the same outcome. Five minutes in and Scott Parker burst through the middle and produced a clever pass inside the defender who was showing him outside, only for Adebayor to hit a good shot, that Ben Foster got both hands behind to push wide. Brunt then made a good run down the Albion right and dinked a nice cross to Cox, who was waiting in the vicinity of the penalty spot, but could only put his header straight to the place where Brad Friedel was standing. Play switched to the other end and Jermain Defoe linked well with Adebayor, then found himself in the box, but the ball got stuck under his feet, but as he turned, he found he had inadvertently gone past Foster, who had come out behind him, but as he pulled it back along the line for the waiting Adebayor, Reid was there to hack it away before it reached Defoe's striking partner.
Another Ledley header slipped past the post before Morrison glided past a couple of static Spurs defenders, providing Brunt with a pull back right in front of goal 15 yards out, only for the Northern Ireland midfielder to smash it powerfully at goal, but too high to trouble the Spurs goalie. Then Cox was well placed to the left of the goal about 13 yards out, but he took an early shot at goal that was very weak and allowed the American net-minder an easy task to gather and then throw out to BAE. He played the ball down the line to Emmanuel, who flicked the ball between his legs knowing that JD was inside him. Taking the ball on the halfway line, the England forward raced forward to head for goal. Coming in on the left side of centre, with Jonas Olsson backing off him, Defoe shaped to go right, then as Olsson shifted his weight that way, Jermain hit a low shot to the left of the defender, catching Foster out with the power and accuracy of the drive.
Spurs were in front in the 81st minute and while Albion had been creating chances, their finishing was poor and reflected their low goals for total so far this season. But from that point on, it was all Spurs. Defoe almost got a second, with Olsson blocking his effort this time. When the ball later bounced around the area and came to Adebayor, he took his time and tried to bend the bal around a defender and Foster, but the ball missed by about a foot with 88 minutes gone. Next up it was Gareth Bale, coming in from the right to try and bend one past Foster from the opposite side, but getting the same result as Ade.
Just into injury time, Morrison played a perfect cross onto the head of substitute Peter Odemwingie, but the Nigerian was only able to get power on it and not placement, putting it over the crossbar. With Spurs hitting on the break, Bale fired a shot in that Nicky Shorey got in the way of and the ball was cleared, but only to Younes Kaboul, who played it forward ... straight to Bale, who ran at his man and as he got into the box, he played a pass sideways with the outside of his left foot to Adebayor, who stroked it home from 12 yards out, with what was virtually the last kick of the game.
So another win in the good run of results, keeping Spurs third and another two goals for Adebayor in what was a good week for him. But there were a number of good performances, with Aaron Lennon developing an understanding with Kyle Walker and Gareth Bale ploughing up the left touch line ... or the right when the need arises. Defenders must dread facing the pace Tottenham possess at the moment. Jermain Defoe showed why he is such a valuable asset to Tottenham and Rafa might find himself on the bench next time the Premier League games come up ... at home to Bolton Wanderers at 3 o'clock next week.
I am sure that with the confidence, team spirit and understanding the team are building, they will be pleased to have a midweek off, as Harry will probably play a fringe side against PAOK and then save the first team for the league points at the weekend.
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|What you thought|
|The Funky Phantom||What a
turnaround and how good was it to see Spurs winning a game like
this, whereas in the past we would have settled for a draw or got
caught out at the end of the game and come home with nothing ?
With Scott Parker and Sandro tying up the middle of the midfield, it allowed Lennon and Bale to raid up the wings, putting in a shift that will keep the WBA defenders awake all week. With two goal-scorers up front (Ade and Defoe/VDV) we are always likely to score and there were even opportunities for Sandro and Parker to make moves on goal, such was their dominance in midfield.
While Bale was loose on Reid for the goal and Kaboul looser marking Mulumbu, the defence was pretty good and Brad looked comfortable apart from the goal, which was well taken, but he might have got closer to.
Sitting in third with other results helping our situation, do we dare to dream ... or just wait to see what we dare to do ?
|Michael O'Brien||The stats
showed that Emmanuel Adebayor had nine shot sin the match ... more
than any Premier League striker in one game for five and a half
24 shots on goal in all and it says a lot about how we are playing our football at the moment, but I still see us missing too many chances and with the prospect of a top three (or dare I say it ... two) finish, we need to be more clinical with our goal-scoring from all the opportunities we create.
Man City are scoring for fun and we ought to be as well, as we are as potent an attacking force on our day.
Long may our good run continue ... with a few more goals along the way, as goal difference might prove necessary come the end of the season.
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester United||1||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|Stoke City||3||Blackburn Rovers||1||Saturday|
|Norwich City||2||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|Swansea City||0||Aston Villa||0||Sunday|
|11||Queens Park Rangers||13||4||3||6||14||24||15||-10|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||13||4||2||7||12||20||14||-8|
Position before match :
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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