West Bromwich Albion (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 28th December 2008


As the festive season starts to pile up games like presents under the Christmas tree, it is a case of putting out a side which will be able to last the 90 minutes from the remaining squad members who can get themselves ready for action.  Not that there was too much action in our last game against Fulham, so we will be hoping that Spurs can get into West Bromwich Albion a bit more than they did on Boxing Day.

Albion sit bottom of the table, but beat Manchester City just over a week ago and at home, they do like to get after teams, so Tottenham will need to be aware of the dangers they can create.  They use wide-man James Morrison, signed form Middlesbrough, to get crosses into Roman Bednar, who is their big man leading the line.  Good in the air and strong holding up play and on the ball, the former Hearts forward is their main goal threat in the absence of knee ligament victim Ismael Miller.  It is likely that he will be joined in attack by ex-Villa striker Luke Moore, who got on the score-sheet against City recently.  He has a bit of pace, but is the nippier second striker who will play off Bednar, although he is a bit lightweight.  With Craig Beattie, another strongly built Scottish striker from Celtic, who is just back from a loan at Crystal Palace, he may be on the bench to be available as a straight swap for Bednar or to replace Moore if the physical approach seems to be upsetting Tottenham's central defensive pairing.

The defence has been a problem in keeping other team's attacks at bay, with goalkeeper Scott Carson coming in from Liverpool, but showing that his previous experience at Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa, especially when Spurs have faced him, is that he is suspect.  His career started in a blaze of hype, as he ousted Paul Robinson from the Leeds United side, but unfortunately, his progress has not been as meteoric as his initial burst onto the scene.  Thos ein front of him have left him exposed on occasions, so the fact that the back four will be re-arranged because of full back Paul Robinson being suspended and Abdoulaye Meite injured with a pulled hamstring, means there will be chances for Carl Hoefkens and Leon Barnett.  Hoefkens has had little time in the team this season, but is a dogged defender, who will stick to his task, but his lack of experience at this level might allow Aaron Lennon a run at him, while Barnett was signed from Luton Town to replace the departing Curtis Davies, who they signed from the Hatters, although Davies is the classier of the two and one who Spurs might have taken into the squad either when he left Luton or WBA.  Dutchman Gianni Zuiverloon and Jonas Olsson will both be involved, as they have been regulars in the defence but good movement could pull them out of position, although that has not been something Spurs have been that good of lately and with only one striker, the Albion back line might find it easier than if we went at them with two up front.

The midfield is hard-working and apart from Morrison, they lack a little invention.  Perhaps the most skillful midfielder they possess is Robert Koren.  The Slovenian is a good dribbler and possess a good eye for a pass, also having the ability to get into the box and hit a good free-kick.  I don't know much about Chinese player De-Hoen Kim, but having seen him on Match of the Day lately, he looks like one who runs about a bit and will keep going.  Former Manchester United midfielder Kevin Greening often does some neat things and then let's himself down with the final ball and is another who big things were expected from when he left York City to go to Old Trafford, with Spurs also interested in him at that time.  Borja Valero is a player I haven't seen, but will be one that Tottenham need to be aware of as he appears to be a player who gets stuck in amid the midfield hurly-burly, as his yellow card count shows.  Former Sheffield Wednesday and Northern Ireland international Chris Brunt was a shining light at Hillsborough, but has found his chances limited so far this season.  Possessor of a fine shot and good from dead ball situations, Brunt runs well at pace on the wing and can get crosses in from tight positions to feed the front two.  Spurs will need to curtail his runs, as they could cause problems for our defence.

Manager Tony Mowbray won his way out of the Championship playing good football, but has found that the same approach in the Premier League has been a different proposition.  That and the need to have added more quality to the squad as they moved up a level to the top flight,

While both teams are in need of a win, they might both have to settle for a point, as I think this game will have goals and they will be shared equally ...

PREDICTION : -  West Bromwich Albion  2   Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


WEST BROMWICH ALBION :  -  Paul Robinson (suspended); Ismael Miller (knee); Abdoulaye Meite (hamstring); Neil Clement (knee); - (-); - (-);

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); Ledley King (knee); Tom Huddlestone (ankle); - (-); - (-); 


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West Bromwich Albion   2   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  The Hawthorns
Sunday 28th December 2008
Kick Off :  2.00 p.m.
Crowd :   26,344
Referee :  Steve Tanner (Somerset)
Weather :  -  Crisp, cold, bright
Teams : - 
West Bromwich Albion :

19  Carson

22  Zuiverloon       (  3  Hoefkens 73)
  5  Barnett
  4  Cech
26  Olsson

  8  Greening
28  Valero  (12  Beattie 80  )
11  Brunt       (17  Dorrans 65)
27  Morrison     

16  Moore
  9  Bednar      

Unused subs: 
  1  Kiely
14  Kim
15  MacDonald
30  Donk

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto      
39  Woodgate
20  Dawson      
22  Corluka

  5  Bentley  (24  O'Hara 70)
  8  Jenas      
  4  Zokora  (18  Campbell 87)
  7  Lennon

14  Modric  (  3  Bale 75)

10  Bent

Unused subs: 
21  Sanchez
16  Gunter
19  Taarabt
80  Obika

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
West Bromwich Albion

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
West Bromwich Albion

Bednar 83
Beattie 90

Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  
West Bromwich Albion

Morrison (foul) 28
Brunt (foul) 45
Zuiverloon (foul) 59
Bednar (foul) 69   


Tottenham Hotspur 

Dawson (foul) 12
Jenas (foul) 88


Assou-Ekotto (foul) 35 

Match Report : -  
The tone for this relegation battle was set in the first two minutes when Albion players caught Luka Modric and Darren Bent late and the referee failed to take any action.  In fact, it was more the ref setting the tone for his won performance, as if I was to say that he was inconsistent, I would be making a major understatement, as his decisions helped ensure Tottenham slipped to another defeat.  With only one goal for four games now, Albion took a late lead and as Spurs threw everything forward to try and get an equaliser, a breakaway sealed the match for the home team.

With no Pavlyuchenko on the bench, it left Spurs even lighter in attacking options, with Jonathan Obika being included among the subs.  With so many players having been used in many of the matches lately, it is perhaps surprising that some of the squad players were not started.  As it was, the team looked tired and with Bent still getting over his bout of tonsillitis, it looked like we were the least likely side to score.

Morrison hit a shot across goal after Cech had taken the ball on, then Moore had a run on goal, Dawson felled him and got a yellow card for the foul.  This left WBA with a free-kick just outside the box and Valero run up to strike it and Gomes had to dive to his left to push the ball out as it looked to be going into the bottom corner.  It took until the 22nd minute for Spurs to seriously threaten the Albion goal and Bent struck Bentley's pass wide of Carson, but the keeper managed to stretch out an arm to collect the ball.

Morrison picked up the first caution for the home side, with a foul on Lennon, which should have been followed by a red for Olsson, who scythed Bent's legs away from him in a vicious manner, but the referee gave Tottenham a throw-in, which it wasn't anyway.  More refereeing senselessness arrived just a couple of minutes later, when Benoit Assou-Ekotto was shown a straight red card for a stamp on Zuiverloon, where similar challenges by Adebayour and Arca were given yellows last weekend.  I must admit, the level of refereeing below the top echelons (and even they can be prone to erratic decisions) is really poor.  While it is down to the players to make sure that they don't give referees the opportunity to come up with such ludicrous awards, there must be some form of review of a performance, which can never get lost points back, but might remove a maverick official from the roster.

With a defender gone, the game would be all about hanging on to go home with something from the game.  That is not something we can usually do, even when leading, so it was going to be a long 55 minutes.  However, the final action of the half saw Olsson flick a header straight at Gomes and then Bentley broke at the other end, but could only hit Lennon's cross well wide.  Spurs must really start making the most of their chances, as goals are becoming hard to come by.

Brunt picked up Albion's second yellow before the interval and after the break Zuiverloon picked up another.  But straight after the break Tottenham should have had a penalty, with Olsson climbing all over Bent and having a handful of his shirt, but perhaps with this man in black it was nothing like as clear cut as a sending off for Spurs.  When the ball flew up the other end, Gomes had to be on his toes to rise up to push Brunt's free-kick over the top and then caught Zuiverloon's curling effort with a good diving save.

When Spurs did get a chance following Zuiverloon's booking, Bentley chose to shoot at goal, rather than whip in a free-kick to the heads of the defenders who had moved into the West Bromwich penalty box.  While Lennon was frustrated by the lack of service, as he had two defenders on yellow cards and wanted to run at them, Bentley continued to be wasteful with possession, so O'Hara came on for him with about 20 minutes left.

Albion were pressing forward as the tired Spurs ten men tired even more.  Dorrans strode forward and struck Dawson with a shot that flew up and forced Gomes into a save to tip the ball over the bar and then when Cech's cross, Bednar was free at the back post and had a free header past the Tottenham goalie - mainly because the Spurs centre-half had been shoved in the back, throwing him forward out of Bednar's way to score.  

Harry was getting desperate and threw Campbell on up front for Zokora, who had been playing in defence, but it failed to produce much of a threat to the WBA goal.  Bednar curled a long range effort wide before hitting a free-kick that flicked off the wall and caused Gomes to produce another good save to keep out. 

As Tottenham went forward in numbers, Gareth Bale lobbed a towering ball into the home penalty area and as it came down, O'Hara was under it to volley at goal, but the shot had all the sting taken out of it by Greening's block and Carson had a simple task to collect the ball.  It was Tottenham's last chance and seconds later the game was over.  Not through the final whistle being blown, but Albion raced down the other end and with Cech and Morrison linking well, a short pass into the area gave Craig Beattie the easiest of goals as he slid the ball in from close range.

While there were mitigating circumstances for this defeat, Tottenham cannot afford to keep losing games like this.  20 games gone and 20 points on the board.  A second half to the season might be enough to survive, but I am not sure that many more performances like this will make the fans tolerance stretch very far.

Redknapp needs to do something with the squad he has got without thinking about who he wants to bring in.  If we need a forward, then someone has to stump up the money for one, otherwise, we will be looking at a different class of player in white shirts next season.






Reaction : -



Well when I wrote before after King Harry arrived at WHL, I said the jury is out.  So far I'm not impressed, as the players are under performing.  How they pick up their wages every week without a small piece of guilt is beyond me.

This is going to be one very long season, so for god's sake get a decent striker in January.  No goals against Fulham, WBA, Everton ... God almighty.

Anyway, through your website, can I thank Daniel Levy and all the players for making this a crap xmas for me.  You will not be getting my money through your turnstiles as you don't deserve it !  You, Danny boy, should never have sacked Jol.

Happy new year ?  Bah humbug !! 

P.S.  Anyone want an A-Z atlas so you can find all the new grounds to visit next year in the Championship.

Just a thought about our striker problem.

Perhaps no one agrees but I feel it's the 4-5-1 (or 4-4-1-1) formation that's causing it.  I've noticed that Pavyluchenko is much happier when partnered by Frazier Campbell, while Bent is slightly more effective when up front with the Man Utd starlet, as opposed to the two target men in tandem.  It just doesn't work and neither does Modric in a free role.

Unfortunately, it would mean Modric maybe dropping to the bench, despite his recent improvement, as we need to keep the 'steel' in our midfield.  The little Croat is a talent, but too much of a luxury for the dogfight that we're presently in.  Then again, Bentley is not exactly pulling his weight and needs to pick up the pace, especially with the Downing rumour doing the rounds again.

Speaking of rumours, with all the talk being about which strikers are coming to Spurs, one problem area has again been overlooked: left-back.  I do feel that today Assou-Ekotto has again proved himself to be unreliable in a high-pressure situation and you wonder how many more chances he'll get, with Bale waiting close by.  Gilberto is finished, so Harry may have to live up to his reputation as 'wheeler-dealer' extraordinaire and find someone capable.  We'll see what happens. 

S J Wightman





Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Portsmouth 0 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 2 Manchester City 2 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Wigan Athletic 1 Sunday
Fulham 2 Chelsea 2 Sunday
Everton 3 Sunderland 0 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 5 Sunday
West Ham United 2 Stoke City 1 Sunday
Manchester United 1 Middlesbrough 0 Monday
Hull City 0 Aston Villa 1 Tuesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 20 13 6 1 35 13 45 +22
2 Chelsea 20 12 6 2 40 9 42 +31
3 Manchester United 18 11 5 2 29 10 38 +19
4 Aston Villa 20 11 5 4 33 22 38 +11
5 Arsenal 20 10 5 5 33 24 35 +10
6 Everton 20 9 5 6 27 25 32 +2
7 Wigan Athletic 19 8 4 7 23 20 28 +3
8 Hull City 20 7 6 7 28 37 27 -9
9 Fulham 19 6 8 5 18 14 26 +4
10 West Ham United 20 7 4 9 24 28 25 -4
11 Bolton Wanderers 20 7 2 11 22 28 23 -6
12 Portsmouth 20 6 5 9 21 33 23 -12
13 Manchester City 20 6 4 10 38 30 22 +8
14 Newcastle United 20 5 7 8 26 32 22 -6
15 Sunderland 20 6 4 10 21 29 22 -8
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 20 5 5 10 20 25 20 -5
17 Middlesbrough 20 5 5 10 17 29 20 -12
18 Stoke City 20 5 5 10 18 33 20 -15
19 Blackburn Rovers 20 4 5 10 22 36 18 -14
20 West Bromwich Albion 20 5 3 12 16 35 18 -19


Position before the match :  16th
Position after the match :  16th
After the weekend's games :  16th

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