West Bromwich Albion (Home)
Premier League

Saturday 23rd April 2011

Coming hot on the heels of a game against Arsenal, who needed points to stay in the title chase, we now face West Bromwich Albion who are mid-table on 39 points, but are looking for another three of four to make their position in the Premier League safe for next season.

Spurs are at least scoring goals again, after a barren spell.  Three in each of our last league games have been a marked improvement and while we are still leaking them at the back, it is the lack of goals for that have been costing us points.  Hopefully, the scoring can continue, with Pav and Crouch looking a decent pairing up top, with van der Vaart given a place nominally on the right, but realistically, it is more of a floating role.

Against West Bromwich Albion, I will expect another tough battle, as they have been transformed from a side capable of winning on their day, even against top sides to one who can be organised and difficult to beat on a run of games under new manager Roy Hodgson.  They have drawn a few, including a 2-2 with Arsenal, but then have beaten Sunderland and Liverpool, but last time out lost 1-3 to Chelsea.

One weak link in the Albion team is goalkeeper Scott Carson, who has been around for a number of years, but has always been weak on his positioning.  In games against him in the past for Charlton, Liverpool and Leeds, he has proved to be suspect, especially on his near post.  He is a good shot stopper, but not so confident on crosses, so the playing of Crouch might test him in coming for high balls.

The Albion defence has tightened up under Hodgson, whereas, when Roberto Di Matteo was manager they were put under pressure more, with the team playing a more attacking game.  Now, the likes of Olsson, Cech, Shorey, Zuiverloon, Meite and Tamas give Albion a defence that has some experience and who are responding well to Hodgson's coaching.  Tamas is a Romanian, who has played infrequently for Albion this season, but is a dogged full back, who can do a useful job for the team.  Shorey has played in the top flight with Reading and Aston Villa and his move to the Hawthorns has given him a new lease of life.  Once looked at by Spurs, he has found it tough battling away in a relegation battle, but he has been there before and has a good turn of pace, enjoying lining up with the attacks on the flank.  Jonas Olsson is a strong central defender, who takes a lot of the ball in the air and takes no prisoners with his tackling.  Marek Cech is similar, but the Slovakian sometimes is rash in his timing and can lead to him picking up cards from fouls.  Abdoulaye Meite is another big centre-half who wins a lot in the air and can be dangerous at set-pieces at the other end for WBA.  Spurs might have some joy, as Crouch will be more of a handful than most forwards for the central defenders, while Pav will pull them about.  Zuiverloon has been an infrequent inclusion in the side this season, with only 10 appearances, but he is another strong full back, but again, like Cech, he can be impetuous.  Gonzalo Jara is another option and this tough tackling Chilean is a fearsome opponent.

Paul Scharner has also featured in defence, but also in midfield for the Baggies.  The former Wigan player has Premier League experience and was sought after when he decided to move on form the JJB stadium, but he has found it difficult to settle in one position and he might be most useful to Albion in defence, where his aerial ability would be put to it's best effect.  Alongside him in midfield, Albion have seen the development of a rising star in Graham Dorrans, who is a quick footed cot, who has the passing ability to spread play and can hit a sweet dead ball.  Much coveted by other clubs, he is a key to their goal-scoring success, with an number of assists, but it appears his season may be finished with an ankle injury.  As has Jerome Thomas, a former Gooner youth teamer, who has been playing well on the wing and has chipped in with goals to this season.  Nippy and has a trick or two, he will be looking to attack Corluka whenever he gets the ball.  Steven Reid looked like he might have to retire with a succession of injuries, but he helped Albion reach the Premier League and is enjoying his renaissance, with some effective performances, while Chris Brunt has also put in a lot of work, but he is more noted for his passing and long-range shooting.  An all-action midfielder, the Northern Ireland international has made a name for himself and is one of the players Spurs will need to watch, with his late runs into the box from deep positions.  Former Middlesbrough winger James Morrison has had a frustrating time at West Brom ,with a heel injury making him miss the bulk of last season, but he has shown that he works the line well and can score spectacular goals, bringing him Scotland caps after representing England at all levels except playing for the senior side.

Cameroonian Somen Tchhoyi has often featured coming on as a substitute to give some solidity in midfield, while Youssef Mulumbu is a Congolese international midfielder of the sort that Hodgson likes, providing a strong, physical presence in the middle of the pitch and former Derby midfielder Giles Barnes gives Hodgson attacking possibilities from the bench. 

Up front, Peter Odemwingie has proven a success on his move from Lokomotiv Moscow.  A fast, mobile striker, he can score all types of goals and is best in and around the box.  Can be difficult to pick up, making good runs off the ball, so Dawson and Gallas will need to be aware of where he is.  Alongside him up front has been former Swindon Town striker Simon Cox or Marc-Antoine Fortune.  Little and large, Cox and Fortune have different abilities, with the former a live-wire, who scores the mot outrageous goals and is a nuisance, while Fortune is more of a target man; tall and good in the air.  Either can link effectively with Odemwingie and while it may be that Hodgson sets up with only one up front to start with, the introduction of either from the bench will pose different problems for our defenders.  One other striker available to the manager is on loan Carlos Vela from Arsenal, who has been on the score-sheet for the Baggies, but is not a regular starter.  The Mexican makes good runs and is a decent finisher, but sometimes fails to get involved once the going gets a bit physical.

Albion are a different proposition under Hodgson and can cause problems on the break, with some pacy players, but if Tottenham are in the mood to play the way they did against Stoke (minus the goals we let in), then there is no reason why they can't gather another three points ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    2      West Bromwich Albion    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Wilson Palacios (out - knee); Ledley King (out - groin); Alan Hutton (out - knee); Gareth Bale (doubful - knee); - (-);

WEST BROMWICH ALBION : -  Pablo Ibanez (out - hamstring); Graham Dorrans (out - knee); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    West Bromwich Albion   2      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 23rd April 2011
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,160
Referee :  Stuart Atwell (Warwickshire)
West Bromwich Albion kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Very hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  4  Kaboul
13  Gallas
20  Dawson (c)    
32  Assou-Ekotto (30  Sandro  7)

11  van der Vaart
14  Modric
  6  Huddlestone  (  7  Lennon 62)
  3  Bale 

  9  Pavlyuchenko    (15  Crouch 87)

Unused subs: 
19  Bassong
  8  Jenas
40  Pienaar

West Bromwich Albion :

  1  Carson

12  Reid  (36  Jara 45+1)
23  Meite
  3  Olsson

11  Brunt
18  Vela
21  Mulumbu
33  Scharner 
      (31  Cox 77  )
14  Thomas  (  7  Morrison 70)

24  Odemwingie 

Unused subs: 
13  Myhill
  6  Ibanez
  5  Tchoyi

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  West Bromwich Albion
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Pavlyuchenko  24
Defoe 66

West Bromwich Albion

Odemwingie 5
Cox 81

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Dawson (foul) 89   


West Bromwich Albion

Scharner (persistent fouling) 45+4   


Match Report : -  
Spurs suffered more dropped points in what seems like a fading quest to reach the top four finish they need for another Champions League qualification and it is the draws that they have been picking up that have been killing that dream as much as they have failed to kill teams off.  West Bromwich Albion came to White Hart Lane with their own targets and played a fair bit of football, but having been overhauled after taking an early lead, Tottenham should have closed out the game instead of allowing an equaliser in the last ten minutes to leave the final score 2-2.

Within five minutes, we had witnessed a repeat of Wednesday night, with Carlos Vela spreading the ball from centre left of midfield to the right side of the penalty area, where striker Peter Odemwingie shouldered Benoit Assou-Ekotto off the ball and as Michael Dawson came in to block him, curled a left foot shot around the defender and Heurelho Gomes to net the ball off the inside of the far post.  It was a very well taken goal that had left BAE laying on the floor and then needing treatment before limping off holding his hamstring.

Going behind is nothing new to Tottenham this season, but just imagine how good we could be if we didn't !!

Tottenham's plans were set back on two fronts.  Going behind hadn't been the way it was supposed to pan out and neither was having to replace BAE with Sandro, meaning Gareth Bale dropped back to left back and Luka Modric filled his place on the left, allowing the Brazilian to take his place in the middle of the four in midfield.  Sandro was one of the most impressive Spurs players on the day, with Rafael van der Vaart also putting in a lot of running now that he is playing 90 minutes most games.

It was tough going for Spurs as they tried to get back in the game, as Albion's manager Roy Hodgson had set them up to be hard to break down and there was some cynical treatment of the Spurs players with some ill-timed (at best) tackles.  Scharner was particularly guilty with a scythe on Bale that the referee - the ever-controversial Stuart Atwell - failed to even give a free-kick for.  Brunt was deployed to double up on the Welshman and used his body to block Bale's runs off the ball, as Gareth had to do his work from a deeper position following Benoit's early injury.

A chance came in the 17th minute, when van der Vaart curled a free-kick from the right into the six yard box.  The ball came in with pace and William Gallas had made a good run into the box and met it with his head, but from close range, he got it all wrong and took the ball over the bar, when it looked like the ball might have been on target if he had not touched it.  Whether it would have gone in is another question.

When Bale did get away down the left, there was a good chance in the 21st minute, when he got to the line and pulled back a cross that a falling Pavlyuchenko got his head to at the near post, but could not direct it on goal and the chance flashed wide.  But Pav did have a bit more luck in the 27th minute, when he pulled Spurs level.  As Tom Huddlestone tried to dink the ball forward, Chris Brunt got in the way and diverted the ball to Roman on the edge of the D and as Jermain Defoe ran across him, he took the ball on, through Brunt's legs and hit a left foot shot across Scott Carson to take the ball in off the keeper's left hand post and in to make it 1-1.

There was a lot of possession conceded by both teams.  Neither were making many clear cut chances, but there was one before the break as a one-two played between Modric and VDV ended with the Dutchman driving in a shot with the outside of his left foot from a narrow angle on the left.  Carson was forced into a good save, as he was not expecting a shot form there, but he parried the ball out in front of goal and from 12 yards, Pavlyuchenko took the shot early and could only put it over the top as he was closed down by a defender.

The break saw the sun continue to blaze down and the pitch taking on more water from the sprinklers.  It had been watered before the game too and there was a number of players slipping over, with the ball moving slower across the grass, probably because of the excess water which was supposed to quicken the game.

Spurs looked like they meant business straight after the restart, as a long ball forward was chested off to Rafael by Pav for him to have a shot that went into the Paxton Road end crowd, followed by Younes Kaboul rampaging down the right and cutting inside into the box, where he let fly with his left foot.  Unfortunately, like many of his attempts on goal, it flew well wide of the mark.  A Nicky Shorey cross in the 51st minute was headed down by Odemwingie and Tottenham were indebted to Gomes, who tipped the ball wide at full stretch.

With the crowd growing impatient, Harry Redknapp brought on Aaron Lennon for Tom Huddlestone just after the hour.  Within a couple of minutes, he had been fouled on the edge of the box by Scharner, but van der Vaart failed to hit the target with the shot.  However, in the 66th minute Rafael played the bal up to Jermain Defoe just inside the Baggies' half.  Nothing looked too dangerous, but JD ran at the defence and took the ball to the edge of the box, before turning back on himself and turning Meite in the bargain, then let fly with a left foot shot that went in past Carson's left hand to give Tottenham a 2-1 lead.

The goal signalled some relief for Jermain.  His 100th Spurs goal and his 100th career goal in the Premier League had been a long time coming and was only his third in the league this season.  It looked as though it would be the all important one for the team too in getting the three points they needed from the match.  And so it seemed, as they stroked the ball about keeping possession and making the odd chance.  But the inability to finish games off is costing them, especially against sides in the bottom half of the table.

With 17 minutes left, it looked as though Albion had a good shout for a penalty, when Vela's pull back was struck at goal from the edge of the box and Dawson threw himself in to block, but the ball appeared to hit his outstretched arm and cannon across the penalty area.  I have seen them given for less.  Then five minutes later, Gomes had to reach to get Brunt's low drive that looked like it might creep in.

It only delayed the inevitable for a minute or so, as in WBA's next attack, they moved the ball up the right and from outside the left hand corner of the box, substitute Simon Cox looked up and lifted a high curving ball over our defence and over Gomes to go in the top left hand corner of Gomes' goal and tie it up at 2-2.

Ten minutes left and the Spurs heads told a sorry tale.  A lot had been taken out of them on Wednesday, but the euphoria of getting a point from that game was dissipating with the point that looked likely to have to settle for from this.

After Tottenham kicked off again, they introduced Peter Crouch, but they did not make another clear opportunity and it was the visitors who looked more likely winners, with Odemwingie causing problems.  He firstly got past a couple of players on the edge of the D and drove a fierce shot a yard wide of the post and then he set up Cox, who this time put his shot too high and with it went the chance of an out-right winner in the game, as Atwell blew the final whistle.

It was a bit of a mixed bag from Spurs today and they failed to take the game to West Brom with any sort of high tempo in the first half, leaving them open to go one behind and then have to come back again.  The Pav-Defoe partnership didn't seem to work that well and the two goals were individual goals, whereas WBA worked their openings to score.

Failings against teams we should be beating shows there is still a long way to go in the Premier League without considering what the club need to do in the Champions League.  Or the Europa League come to that.  That's why we need to think one step at a time and why the Spurs crowd need to give the team a bit of a chance before getting on their backs.

Luke Kelly


Fan Reaction : -



The amount of times we play well enough in a game to get into good positions and then waste the ball seem to be costing Spurs goals and points.

How many free-kicks and corners did we have today without getting any decent efforts on target from them ?  Every free-kick placed anywhere near centrally seems to need Bale or van der Vaart to try and bend one in over the wall, but they rarely make the goalkeeper even make a save.  Corners are played high into the box, where Dawson is about the tallest in the team when Crouch isn't playing and they are usually cleared, leaving all our players upfield.

Crosses in are also not picking out players, but are played into areas regardless of whether there are players there or not.  Both goals came out of nothing, which is a useful asset to have in the side if you're not making many clear chances, but that has been the problem this season.

We have just past 50 goals and we were in our 34th game.  Not a high goals for ratio.  And it might cost us, as Liverpool are closing with every game we draw and there will be a real threat of missing out on European football altogether should some three points not start coming our way. 

We have the players, but they are not clicking at the moment, so I hope that they can put something together for the run-in, but it won't be easy.

Jerry Thomas




Other scores this weekend and midweek :
Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Blackpool 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Chelsea 3 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Liverpool 5 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Everton 0 Saturday
Sunderland 4 Wigan Athletic 2 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Arsenal 1 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 0 Manchester City 1 Monday
Fulham 3 Bolton Wanderers 0 Tuesday
Stoke City 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 34 21 10 3 71 32 73 +39
2 Chelsea 34 20 7 7 62 26 67 +36
3 Arsenal 34 18 10 6 67 36 64 +31
4 Manchester City 33 17 8 8 51 30 59 +21
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 33 14 13 6 50 42 55 +8
6 Liverpool 34 15 7 13 51 39 52 +12
7 Everton 34 11 14 9 47 42 47 +5
8 Bolton Wanderers 34 12 10 12 48 47 46 +1
9 Fulham 34 9 15 10 40 36 42 +4
10 Stoke City 34 12 6 16 43 43 42 0
11 Newcastle United 34 10 11 13 49 48 41 +1
12 Sunderland 34 10 11 13 39 49 41 -10
13 Aston Villa 34 11 11 13 43 55 41 -12
14 West Bromwich Albion 34 10 10 14 49 64 40 -15
15 Birmingham City 34 8 14 12 34 51 38 -17
16 Blackburn Rovers 34 9 8 17 40 55 35 -15
17 Blackpool 34 9 7 18 48 70 34 -22
18 Wigan Athletic 34 7 13 14 34 57 34 -23
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 34 9 6 19 37 60 33 -23
20 West Ham United 34 7 11 16 39 61 32 -22


Position before the match :  5th
Position after the match :  5th
Position after the weekend :   5th


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