|OPPONENTS||West Bromwich Albion|
|DATE||Saturday 25th August 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
West Bromwich Albion will arrive at White Hart lane in confident
mood having seen off Liverpool 3-0 on the first day and it could
have been more. Having created other chances and missed a
penalty, Albion might have embarrassed Brendon Rodgers even more on
his first match in charge, but conversely, Liverpool had some good
chances that they failed to put away.
This has been Tottenham's problem for a while, so they need to take heed of Liverpool's failings and make sure that it does not happen to them.
With Emmanuel Adebayor back in the fold on a permanent basis, Jermain Defoe will not be the only experienced forward at the club and this should take some of the pressure off both of them. With the sceptre of Luka Modric still hanging over the team, the delay in his sale is holding up more buys with a straight replacement for him a must as well as another striker and maybe a goalkeeper. As is the way with the transfer window in the summer, it is only a couple of games in that you have a full squad of players for the season to choose from.
Steve Clarke did his business fairly early, making a good start to his own managerial career. With almost a whole team shipped out and half a team coming in, it has been a busy time at the Hawthorns, but his buys have been shrewd. Ben Foster is a promising keeper and spent last season at the club, so he will settle immediately. Strikers were a must with a lack of goals last season one of the problems in the side, so Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku is a player he hopes will add some presence up front and Markus Rosenburg of Sweden's Euro 2012 team to add some goal threat with a career goals to games ratio of about 1 in 3.
Also coming in are Yassine El Ghanassay a Belgian midfielder and Claudio Yacob an Argentinian midfielder. Along with the core of the side of Zoltan Gera, Chris Brunt, Jonas Olsson, Liam Ridgwell, Youssouf Mulumbu and Peter Odemiwingie, there is a good depth to the squad beyond the first eleven now.
The defence looks perhaps their weakest link, with a lack of pace, but there are strong tacklers there, but they will have to be careful with their timing of the tackles. The midfield looks strong and they will chip in with goals, while Lukaku will be a handful for Jan Vertonghen, who looks like he might make his debut. But being a Belgian team-mate in the national side, he might have an insight into how to keep him quiet.
Spurs will need to work hard to combat the strength in the Baggies' midfield and also to get up in support of the one striker in AVB's 4-2-3-1 formation.
It should be an open game, with Albion looking to play to the wings and get the ball in to Lukaku at the earliest opportunity, with Spurs using the pace of Bale and Lennon to try and open the visitors up on the flanks. but the Albion will want to ensure that they don't concede too early, so there may be a cagey opening.
I hope that Spurs will have just enough to give AVB his first three points in the Spurs Head Coach's role.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Bromwich Albion 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs will be missing Younes Kaboul (knee), Giovani dos Santos (calf), Scott Parker (Achilles) and Heurelho Gomes (injury).
|WEST BROMWICH ALBION TEAM NEWS :|
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
1 (0) West Bromwich Albion
Saturday 25th August 2012 Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
|Assou-Ekotto 74||Morrison 90|
Jan VERTONGHEN (foul) 48
Youssouf MULUMBU (kicking ball away) 30
Steven REID (foul) 82
Claudio YACOB (foul) 90+4
|Crowd : 36,166||Weather : Sunny, rainy, cloudy|
|Referee : Mike Dean (Wirral)||Assistant Referees : J. Collin, J. Brooks|
|Fourth Official : F. Graham|
|West Bromwich Albion kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||West Bromwich Albion :||kit|
18 DEFOE (21 JENAS 76)
Shane LONG (20
Romelu LUKAKU 62)
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Steve Clarke|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Zoopla|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : adidas|
A game that brought a familiar face in opposition to Andre Villas-Boas might have also brought a familiar looking team to play Spurs and earn a point at White Hart Lane.
The Baggies were worthy of their draw despite only having one shot at goal in the first half, but it might have been a ghost from the past that had re-visited AVB, with Steve Clarke bringing a team reminiscent of Chelsea to face Tottenham. Lukaku could have been Drogba - strong and powerful, Olsson - a holding, shirt-pulling Terry and Yacob - a Meireles lite. But they exhibited the characteristics of a side that we don't do well against. All action, closing down space and getting forward quickly in numbers towards the end of the game.
For a side who didn't look an attacking threat for the majority of the first half and the early stages of the second, they only had two spells of pressure - one after Jermain Defoe's goal was ruled out for offside and then towards the end when they scored the equaliser. For all the control that Spurs appeared to hold over the match for long periods, they failed to take more than one of the 23 chances they made and ended up paying for it.
An old failing and one that was compounded by some haphazard defending towards the closing stages, perhaps not helped by AVB's substitution of Jermain Defoe for Jermaine Jenas. it is early days for the new Head Coach, but he will have to learn quickly that Tottenham cannot defend a lead and they need to add to that lead rather than try to see time out. It wasn't Jeans' fault, but it changed the swing of the game, which went WBA's way.
Early in the match, it looked like the changes made to the Tottenham team had paid dividends. Jan Vertonghen coming in for the injured Kaboul, while Rafael van der Vaart replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson. Both players looked sharp and on their game, with VDV enjoying a bit of a free role, producing good passes through the Albion defence. He and Gareth Bale had shots at goal which went wide, before James Morrison went down holding his ankle in the first five minutes. It was a shame he didn't have to go off considering what happened later.
Bale was at the heart of some good work by Spurs and twice he put balls across the six yard box with nobody there to get on the end of it. He also was the recipient of a low pull back by Walker, but he couldn't get over the ball and it flew over the bar. van der Vaart met Walker's low ball to the near post, but could only put his shot wide of the goal, before Bale's pull back for Vertonghen gave the new signing a good sight of goal, but the ball took a long time to come down and he sliced his shot wide under pressure from around the penalty spot.
The two sides exchanged free-kicks over each other's bars and when Sandro had a shot, it almost dropped at Defoe's feet, but a defender swiped it away for a corner. Nothing came from it, but at the end of added time, Aaron Lennon had a shot that trickled through to Foster after swapping passes with van der Vaart, when a better strike might have tested the Baggies keeper, much like earlier in the game when the little winger found himself 12 yards out, but hit a left foot shot wide.
Into the second half and Spurs continued their attacks, with Albion still holding back, waiting for set-pieces to threaten the Spurs goal, without managing to do so. VDV hit a sweet right to left diagonal pass to Bale just inside the penalty area and taking the high ball on his chest tried a volley as it dropped, but it soared over the goal. Then, from a free-kick of our own, Benoit Assou-Ekotto fired it over the wall and it was dipping just under the bar, where Foster palmed it over the bar with a good save.
55 minutes in and Friedel made his first save from Graham Dorrans as he ran onto a through ball and the keeper came out to block with his legs. a couple of minutes later there was a shot on goal at the other end, as Defoe made a trademark run, coming in off the left wing to shoot a couple of feet wide of Fosters left hand post.
Spurs just seemed to be giving West Brom a bit of space to play. Sandro had covered a lot of ground and was starting to look a little tired, when Spurs took off van der Vaart and brought on Emmanuel Adebayor and the visitors brought on Romelu Lukaku, a big, beefy forward who is just 19 apparently !! It was a move that was to have a dramatic effect on the game.
I find it amazing that linesmen don't see the things you can see from the crowd at a much further distance from the action. When Lennon crossed from the right into Adebayor, his shirt was being pulled all over the place, but nothing was signalled by the officials. Funnily, they managed to see Defoe was offside when he spun his marker and shot past Foster. Play switched straight to the Spurs goal and Lukaku got away on the Tottenham left and hit a shot low across Brad, who got down well to push the ball just wide of the goal. Gallas did well to keep pace with the young Belgian striker and block a shot, before Friedel had to come out and block a shot with his body as Lukaku close din again.
The game was getting a bit strung out now, with Albion showing some attacking intent, which allowed Bale to run down the middle of the pitch and hit a fierce shot that Foster didn't know much about but managed to get it away for a corner. When Sigurdsson had replaced Sandro and Spurs earned another corner, the Icelander swung it over to the back post, where it was headed away, but only to Assou-Ekotto about 30 yards out. The full-back moved forward and smacked a low shot that deflected off an Albion defender non-plussing Foster and flying into the his bottom left hand corner of the goal. Coming through a crowded box, it was always possible that something like that would happen and with so many bodies back, it was becoming difficult to play through the area.
Jenas came on for Defoe, when it looked like it might have been Townsend to run at tiring legs in the WBA defence or Caulker, who might match Lukaku's physicality. With less than fifteen minutes left, Albion threw on striker Rosenberg to go for a goal to get back into the match. Vertonghen did well to get in a block to Lukaku's shot from just inside the area and Bale tested Foster with a shot from the right corner of the box that looked like it was going in, but the keeper palmed it out into the six yard box, with no Spurs player there to finish it off.
Albion made a grandstand finish of the game, with a Lukaku header from a corner headed up onto the bar by Benoit and then the ball was somehow scrambled away with just a couple of minutes to go. Spurs didn't learn their lesson, as the ninety minutes were up, another corner was won by Lukaku, and with Friedel rooted to his line, it had to be headed away from the line, McAuley headed back across goal but and the ball went back into the middle of the box. It dropped to James Morrison about 10 yards out and he picked out a low shot that went through Assou-Ekotto's legs and into the bottom left hand corner of Friedel's net.
It was a blow, but one that had been coming. There was still time to be seen out if we were to hang onto a point and Gallas did well to get across Lukaku and block another shot, then was in attack at the end to knock the ball down for Vertonghen to swivel and hit the ball past Foster, but the captain had been given offside.
Towards the end, West Bromwich resorted to some crude tackling, with Reid going through Bale from behind and Yacob raking his studs down Adebayor's shin, but it was their closing down and getting men behind the ball that stifled the opportunities to get close to goal. Spurs made openings, but rarely had enough players in the box to capitalise on them.
As well as appearing at half-time, there was a concerted campaign to sing Ledley's "One Knee" song and clap him for a minute as soon as the stadium clock ticked onto 26 minutes and his comments at the interval were heartfelt and the tributes paid to him touching. You had the feeling that had he been playing in his prime Lukaku wouldn't have had such an effect on the match.
Not a bad performance, but Spurs will have to try and find a way of getting more people in the box with AVB's new system and keep going until the final whistle to prevent some sloppy endings.
The Shandy Man
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Norwich City||1||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|Swansea City||3||West Ham United||0||Saturday|
|4||West Bromwich Albion||2||1||1||0||4||1||4||+3|
|10||West Ham United||2||1||0||1||1||3||3||-2|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||2||1||1||0||1||6||1||-5|
Position before match :
Position after match : 14th
Position after the weekend : 14th
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