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Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 25.11.17

PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 25th NOVEMBER, 2017
(3pm)
(At Wembley Stadium)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1(1)

Spurs scorer:-
Kane, 74

West Brom scorer:-
Rondon, 4

Attendance:- 65,905

Referee:- Mike Jones
Assistants:- Scott Ledger & Derek Eaton
Fourth official:- Peter Bankes

Teams:-
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen (sub Llorente, 60); Trippier, Eriksen, Winks (sub Dembele, 61), Davies; Son, Dele; Kane

Subs not used:- Vorm; Foyth, Aurier, Walker-Peters; Sissoko

Booked:- Dier (Dissent)

West Brom (3-4-2-1):- Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans (Capt.); Phillips, Livermore, Barry (sub Yacob, 79), Gibbs; Rodriguez (sub Robson-Kanu, 67), Field (sub McClean, 67); Rondon

Subs not used:- Myhill; Krychowiak, McAuley; Burke

Booked:- Barry (foul on Kane), Gibbs (foul on Dele), Nyom (time-wasting), Foster (time-wasting)

So predictable, in a sense

In my match preview, I warned of three reasons for Spurs to be cautious going into this game. First of all, I mentioned "new manager syndrome", even though Gary Megson is only a caretaker after the sacking of Tony Pulis early this week. Second was the fact that after Liverpool and Newcastle, West Brom had taken more points away to Pochettino's Spurs(5) than any other team. The third potential obstacle I mentioned was James McClean, but it turned out that he was only a substitute, as he had been in West Brom's heavy defeat to Chelsea last week.

My ace statistician friend Declan Mulcahy advised me of a fourth reason to be cautious, which was the fact that this fixture is the second most drawn of Premier League meetings. Add to that the fact that Spurs had performed in such disappointing fashion after previous Champions League games this season, and you had every chance of a draw.

I haven't even mentioned that referee Mike Jones last looked after Spurs 19 months ago to the day when West Brom got the draw which ensured we could not catch eventual title winners Leicester. Spurs might have been strong odds-on favourites to win today, but the draw comes as no real surprise.

The only changes to Pochettino's team were the wing-backs, with Trippier and Davies replacing Aurier and Rose, as could have easily been anticipated. It was Eriksen, not Dele who fell back beside Winks behind the attacking three of Dele, Son and Kane.

The West Brom game plan went perfectly. They were gifted an early goal after former Spur Jake Livermore came out of a midfield challenge with Dele Alli with the ball, quickly sending Rondon away down the right channel with Davinson Sanchez in hot pursuit. Sanchez lost out in his efforts and Rondon rolled a shot across Lloris hitting the net inside the keeper's right post.

Thereafter, in a mainly turgid first half, the "Baggies" formed their defensive dome, and slowed the game down as much as they could, with goalkeeper Ben Foster getting jeered by the home crowd from a very early stage. Foster got one or two signals from the referee, but didn't get his deserved booking until late in the game.

Of course, it was up to Spurs to provide pace, and invention in their efforts to get back into the game, but imagination was in short supply. We were slow and predictable when going forward, with the ball being fed out to the flanks even when a shooting opportunity presented itself.

Trippier crossed after 8 minutes, and Harry Kane headed goalward, but Foster's save was easy. Dele Alli won a ball inside the West Brom area on the left and fed it to Harry Winks, but Winks hooked his shot. Vertonghen got into the West Brom half, and passed forward to Kane, who spread it to Dele on the left-hand side. Dele returnd the ball, but Harry Kane's shot was looped high and again fell easily into Foster's hands.

Former Everton man (perhaps they miss him) Gareth Barry was booked for a foul on Kane. After the free kick, Trippier passed inside to Eriksen, who pushed it onto Kane. Kane ran right to left across the edge of the area, before hitting a left footed shot outside Foster's left post.

Son hit a good shot from the left which Foster saved well and pushed out for a corner, after which Ben Davies had a shot deflected for another corner kick. Davies took the corner which was cleared to Eriksen's feet but his shot was woefully wide.

A good cross by Son was put out for another corner taken from the right by Trippier, with Kane's header held by Foster. Dier had a header go over after another Trippier cross, following the ball being switched from the left by Eriksen and Son's play.

In first half added time, Son had a chance following Davies' ball, but the shot was deflected and went out for a corner.

Spurs came out for the second half with at least more attacking intentions, and variety. Eric Dier moved forward into midfield and we became a 4-4-2. Son and Dele combined to give Harry Kane a chance within a minute of the re-start, but this shot was all too easy for Foster. At least Spurs were now showing more urgency, and with both Dele and Eriksen attacking in midfield there were more attempts at reverse passes and clever through balls.

The "Baggies" now had more chances as they sought to take advantage of the game opening out. Matt Phillips raced onto a long ball to the right flank and hit a decent effort which passed wide across Hugo Lloris's goal. Hugo had hardly had a touch until now.

Mauricio Pochettino made a double substitution on the hour, with Llorente replacing Jan Vertonghen, and Dembele replacing Harry Winks. I suspect both the replaced players' energy levels were depleted after midweek exertions in Germany, which rather begs the question as to why other outfield changes were not made, bearing in mind we have a tough game at The King Power Stadium, Leicester on Tuesday. Eric Dier returned to the back four.

The remainder of the game was at least exciting as Spurs attacked with four or five players. After another Spurs corner, it was Trippier who had a shot from the edge of the box on the right, and again Foster's job was simple.

Finally, Spurs at least got back on level terms. Dele had the ball on the right side of the area, and hit a sharp cross into the 6 yard area, which Harry Kane flicked into the goal with a glancing shot through Foster's legs.

Kane was fouled perhaps just outside the edge of the box, and Eriksen's free kick was blocked. Dele Alli also had a shot blocked following another cross this time from the left.

The time-wasting by West Brom continued and Nyom was the first to go into Mr. Jones' book - at long last. A cross by Son was pushed out as far as Dele but he fired over. Harry Kane pushed a ball out to Trippier on the right and was in the middle to receive the cross, heading just over.

Eric Dier needed some treatment in the middle, but was able to carry on. At least we were now getting some excitement as Llorente caused a little bother with his physical presence and Son, Dele and Kane ploughed forward. I have to say that Christian Eriksen was a big disappointment to me today with some short passes, and a definite case of "bottling" a challenge for a 50/50 ball on the edge of the West Brom area.

Dele had a shot blocked from Son's pass. A Kane shot was spilled by Foster who recovered just before Dele could take advantage. Kane was shooting on sight and received a ball from the left but hit his right footed shot wide.

There were five minutes of added time but during that spell Lloris actually had to make a save from substitute Robson-Kanu, and Rondon failed to convert Phillips' cross from the right wth the goal beckoning.

Spurs have ended the day fourth thanks to Chelsea drawing at Liverpool, but they could be overtaken by whichever team wins in the Burnley v Arsenal game tomorrow, This is another one of those games we should have won, and let's face it, fourth place is probably the best we are going to achieve this season. Our next two games at Leicester and Watford will be difficult, but at least both should have more attacking intentions than did West Brom today.

Read John Ellis's "third-eye" report on this game.

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