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West Brom v Spurs, 26.11.11

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 26TH NOVEMBER, 2011
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1)

West Brom scorer:-
Mulumbu, 10

Spurs scorers:-
Adebayor, 25, 90 (+3)
Defoe, 81

Attendance:- 24,801

Referee:- Mr. Lee Probert
Assistants:- Mr. S. Ledger & Mr. D. Richardson
Fourth Official:- Mr. M. Atkinson

Teams:-
West Brom (4-4-2):- Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt (Capt.), Mulumbu, Morrison, Thomas (sub Tchoyi, 87); Gera (sub Cox, 21), Long (sub Odemwingie, 72)

Subs not used:- Fulop; Jones, Dorrans, Scharner

Booked:- Mulumbu (dissent), Brunt (foul on Ekotto)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Sandro (sub Livermore, 80), Parker, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Gallas, Bassong; Fredericks, Pienaar; Kane

Booked:- Sandro (foul on Morrison)

Baggies bagged! Bring on Bolton!

I haven’t had a chance to absorb the records as yet, but I have seen a glimpse of a comment that this is now officially our best start since the famous Double season of 1960-61, 51 years ago. What cannot be disputed, because the Premier League table and the facts do not lie is this:-

Spurs are third in the table, two points behind Man Utd, with a game in hand. We are three points above Chelsea, with the same game in hand. We are five points above Arsenal, who dropped two points this evening at home to Fulham, and we have that game in hand. We have now won 9 and drawn 1 of our last 10 games. We have won 5 of our 7 away games to date. We should cheer on Liverpool who are at home to Man City tomorrow.

As anticipated, this game certainly was not easy, and could easily have gone against us, as West Brom took an early lead, and were the stronger side in the first half. We went in on level terms though at half time, after Adebayor had a penalty saved, but scored with the rebound. He scored a late second goal (third for Spurs), but Spurs took the lead and looked like winners and Champions League contenders with a superb goal by Jermain Defoe. This goal was scored on the break, from the back, and came with the sort of quality speedy counter-attacking football that we have seen teams like Manchester United play over the years.

We went into this game arguably without our best two players, as Van der Vaart’s hamstring kept him away from The Hawthorns, and Luka Modric was ill, so had to be replaced by Sandro. Defoe took Rafa’s place. Both these changes were “shoe-ins”, but Sandro played on the right side of central midfield, shifting Parker to the left, which perhaps put Spurs out of synch for much of the first half. West Brom is one of the few grounds I can think of (Spurs is one), where the vocal home support stands side by side with the away support. In the case of West Brom, whose crowd was near capacity, this made for a quite intimidating environment for the away team, and certainly egged on the home players.

West Brom have one of those strips (no clear patch for their number on the back of their shirts) which makes it difficult for this observer to be more specific about individuals, but the fact is that from the off, The “Baggies” did put us under pressure. However, Spurs won a corner after 5 minutes, when Ben Foster couldn’t hold a shot by Sandro. West Brom took an early lead though, as too much space was allowed on their right flank for right back Steven Reid to swing in a cross which Mulumbu glanced across Friedel’s right hand into the far corner.

It wasn’t long before Zoltan Gera seemed to twist awkwardly and had to be replaced by midfielder Simon Cox. Shane Long is quite a hero at The Hawthorns and he was giving both Ledley King and Younes Kaboul problems with his swift side to side movement. Sandro took an early booking for a foul in the midfield, which obviously put him under a little pressure. West Brom would try to exploit his situation before the first half concluded.

The Spurs equaliser came after a throw on the right, and a clever ball onto Lennon by Adebayor. Lennon entered the area and was brought down by Shorey. Adebayor stepped up to take the kick, which was quite weak, and saved by Foster. However, the Spurs man was able to fire home the rebound for his 6th goal of the season, to put him level with our top scorer, Rafa van der Vaart. Ten minutes later, former gooner Jerome Thomas went down in the Spurs box under Walker’s challenge, but referee Lee Probert waved away any West Brom appeals. At the other end, Defoe fed Adebayor, whose shot went easily to Foster in goal.

Brad Friedel had an awkward moment after Spurs were defending a corner, and the ball was returned from out on the right. Baggies’ fans were baying for a goal as Friedel was dangerously close to the goal-line if not over, but the referee spotted an infringement and awarded Spurs a free kick anyway. Friedel had another moment when he took the ball close to his line, but bounced it down in front of him. Before the break, Mulumbu got the better of Walker, but Friedel saved his shot. There was also a moment before the break, when Mulumbu got booked for dissent – urging the referee to give Sandro a second booking for a foul.

Harry Redknapp obviously had words with his players at half-time because they certainly came out with more fight in them. Bale and Lennon switched flanks for almost the entire half, and ultimately this was to lead to reward with Adebayor’s second goal in added time. Parker’s pure determination gave Adebayor a chance, but his shot was parried by Foster, and then inadvertently hit out of play by Parker. At the other end, Morrison was the provider for a shot by Cox, but Friedel held the attempt.

Spurs put some pressure on and won three successive corners, with Defoe and Adebayor to the fore. On the hour, Parker sent a good ball to Lennon on the left, who won a corner, taken by Bale but headed wide by Ledley King. A good ball out of defence by Kaboul sent Defoe clear down the right channel, but Olsson cleared. Spurs were getting on top now, but failing to convert some of the good chances they created. Sandro passed to Lennon whose cross was flicked on by Adebayor to Parker, who fired over.

Good play by Bale and Defoe, with a clipped pass, gave Adebayor a great opportunity, but his shot was saved. Chris Brunt got a yellow card for a highly cynical foul on Ekotto, who was making a great run into the West Brom half, only to be chopped down in full flight. Shane Long was replaced by another goal-scoring threat, Peter Odemwingie. Spurs worked the ball from right to left via Sandro and Lennon, but Sandro’s final effort was not good enough.

Walker and Bale combined down the right flank, feeding Defoe, who in turn set up Adebayor, who fired wide, when he should have scored. One minute there was nearly a Spurs own goal, but the next minute, Spurs were attacking the West Brom goal. They got their reward with the goal of the game in the 81st minute. It was Ekotto’s deep ball that was flicked on by Adebayor, and in typical fashion, Defoe forged room for his shot which he squeezed in with power just inside Foster’s right post. It was a goal fit to win the match, but there was more to come.

It wasn’t long before Aaron Lennon found Defoe, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Lennon was the supplier again, this time for Adebayor, who again pushed a shot wide. As we entered added time, Spurs just looked more and more confident, with Bale to the fore. Adebayor sent Gareth away into the area, but the shot went wide across the goal. Then, deeper into the three minutes added on, as Spurs defended, an anywhere clearance by Kaboul fell nicely for Bale who this time passed to Adebayor, whose shot was touched by Foster, but not well enough to keep it out of the net for another 3-1 and our fourth consecutive victory by a two goal margin for his seventh goal of the season. That makes him our top scorer, and the 6th highest scorer in the Premier League at the time of writing.

We Spurs fans do need to really enjoy these times, because we don’t know when they will come again. We are in a great position, without any doubt, and the season could get even better for us. Let’s hope so! Let’s also have a thought for Harry Redknapp, whose win ratio in the league for Spurs is now 51%. When you think of the current figure of just 28% for Steve Bruce, that says quite a lot for our manager and his team.

The “Baggies” have been bagged, and although I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest the “Throstles” were throttled, I do say, “Bring on Bolton”!

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