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Spurs v West Brom, 26.12.13

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
THURSDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 2013
(3 PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (1)

Spurs scorer:-
Eriksen, 36

West Brom scorer:-
Olsson, 38

Attendance:- 35,545

Referee:- Mr. A. Taylor
Assistants:- Mr. H. Lennard & Mr. J. Flynn
Fourth official:- Mr. D. Drysdale

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches, Rose; Chadli (sub Lamela, 75), Holtby (sub Bentaleb, 63), Eriksen, Sigurdsson; Adebayor, Soldado

Subs not used:- Friedel; Fredericks, Naughton, Capoue; Veljkovic (51)

Booked:- Eriksen (foul on Morrison), Walker (foul on Ridgewell), Soldado (foul on Olsson)

West Brom (5-3-1-1):- Foster; Reid, Dawson, Olsson (Capt.), Lugano, Ridgewell; Amalfitano (sub Mulumbu, 71), Yacob, Morrison; Gera (sub Sessegnon, 77); Vydra (sub Berahino, 84)

Subs not used:- Myhill; McAuley; Brunt; Sinclair

Booked:- Reid (foul on Adebayor), Olsson (Dissent)

Ouch! Olsson scored

Within the space of a couple of first half minutes, Christian Eriksen was hero and villain for Spurs. First he put us in the lead with a fantastic free kick that went in off the underside of the bar, but almost immediately after the restart he earnt himself a yellow card and earnt West Brom a free kick, from which West Brom captain Jonas Olsson scored an equaliser, which was presented by the inept Spurs defensive line. Thereafter, Spurs had a few half chances, but rarely caused Ben Foster to make pressure saves with the exception of one or two distant shots, one notably by Kyle Walker.

Under Andre Villas-Boas, Spurs tactics had become all too predictable, because of his insistence on 4-2-3-1. Now our tactics are just as predictable, with Tim Sherwood’s commitment to 4-4-2. Today’s 4-4-2 looked more open than desirable, with Lewis Holtby partnering Eriksen. Dembele obviously is still suffering from the effects of Sunday’s game at Southampton, whilst there is no word on Sandro, who we must assume is unfit. Once again, I got no advance team news from Spurs, and the absence of Lennon and Defoe from the bench remains a mystery to me.

Thank goodness Paulinho’s suspension has now been served, and he will be available for Stoke on Sunday. Despite the strength of our squad, the bench looked lightweight today, with Bentaleb getting another outing, and this time 18 year old Serb Milos Veljkovic on the bench.

Without any form of protection, our defence looked oh so frail today. Both full backs played well today, I felt, being particularly impressed with Danny Rose’s speed, stamina and commitment down the left flank, but in the middle, both Dawson and Chiriches worried me every time the ball went anywhere near them. West Brom on the face of it were playing a defensive line-up, which at times shaped up with 5 at the back, but when they did get forward, they had movement and men in the right places to receive the ball, and threaten our defence.

Where Adebayor had been so powerful and dominant on Sunday, today he was kept quiet by Olsson, who will have every reason to be pleased with his game. Where Chadli had impressed on the right on Sunday, today he made little impact, and Erik Lamela’s insertion came as a refreshing relief, even if it did not improve Spurs’ position. This West Brom side, without a league win since early November (and that against Palace) should surely have been there for the taking for a half-decent Spurs side playing at home. It didn’t work out that way, and Spurs are lingering in eighth place, falling short of the challenging positions. It could take Sherwood a long time to succeed, and his honeymoon period (if he gets one at all) will be brief in the eyes of demanding Spurs fans.

Having described the “Baggies” formation as defensive, I felt they played some adventurous football, with Vydra well supported by Gera, and players such as Amalfitano and Morrison also getting forward. Their formation was, in truth, very fluid and adaptable for attacking and defending situations.

Spurs had a decent attack after 5 minutes through Adebayor and Chadli. The move ended in a deflected Holtby shot, which Foster could hold with ease. Five minutes later, Spurs were sending deep crosses from both flanks, before finally Rose’s ball was put beyond the defence for Adebayor, but the big striker was offside. Walker won a corner down the right, and took it himself. Sigurdsson had a curving shot go just wide of Foster’s left post.

West Brom won a corner after 13 minutes, with Dawson making a desperate saving tackle, as the Spurs defence looked frail in the face of a few red shirts. Spurs had a corner when Chadli’s cross was deflected away from the head of Adebayor. Then Lloris had to be out to save at the feet of Vydra, as West Brom beat any offside trap, if indeed such a thing existed. At the other end, Olsson took a shot by Sigurdsson at close range, and needed a while to recover.

Spurs had a close call, when the ball was crossed from the left and both Vydra and Lugano failed to make contact in the Spurs area. Reid took a yellow card for a foul on Adebayor. Eriksen took the free kick, and a Soldado shot was deflected out for a corner.

Spurs took the lead after Kyle Walker was fouled. Walker shaped up to take the kick, but left it for Eriksen. The kick was outside the right side of the box, and Eriksen curled a lovely kick up and down over the wall, bouncing down off the underside of the bar into the net. The lead was soon gone though, as Eriksen committed the foul that led to West Brom’s equaliser. Spurs were trying to maintain a defensive line across the edge of the box and Olsson was lurking in an offside position. As the kick was taken, he tried to force his way back through the wall, but failed. That wall however, managed to fumble in their efforts to clear the ball, and I am sure the ball came off Spurs feet for Olsson to be present with the gift of a chance inside the area, which he accepted with glee.

Just before the break, Spurs played more football switching the play left and right, and Rose’s cross fell to Eriksen, who hit a left footed shot, patted down by Foster, and cleared. In added time, Morrison had a chance which he fired wide across goal.

Five minutes into the second half, Soldado had a shot which was deflected out for a corner, following which Danny Rose tried a long range shot that passed over from 30 yards. Soldado had at least three attempts during this half, with flicks or back-heels, but they were all off target.

Lloris could only punch clear a Reid free kick at the other end. An Eriksen ball from the left was cleared as far as Holtby, who failed with his left foot shot, and was then replaced by Bentaleb, who did not have as impressive a game as he had on Sunday.

Olsson got booked for dissent, arguing over a free kick given against Reid for a foul on Danny Rose. Reid might have had a second booking, but referee Anthony Taylor was feeling generous. Mr. Taylor and his assistant in the West Brom half frustrated home fans with missed or wrong decisions. A possible penalty appeal fell on deaf ears when a defender basically wrapped his arms around the ball in the area.

After that foul on Rose and the Spurs free kick, Eriksen slid the ball to Kyle Walker, who hammered a shot from 35 yards. Foster was not comfortable, but did manage to beat the ball away for a corner. Walker sent a good long ball down the right channel for Adebayor, but he could just not quite beat the ball in the race to the bye-line. Lamela replaced Chadli, and sent a long ball across to Rose, who combined with Adebayor, before crossing for one of those Soldado chances. This was a header which went wide. Another Lamela ball reached Sigurdsson, who fired wide. Danny Rose worked so hard and succeeded in getting down the line and past his defender. This time Soldado tried a clever flick, which if accurate would have been a lovely goal. Unfortunately, it failed. A similar effort came following more good effort by Rose, and a touch by Eriksen.

Time was running out for Spurs to get what should have been a routine three points. Soldado was in the box, and attempting to cross, but Spurs failed in their penalty appeal. In his frustration, Soldado then got booked for fouling Olsson as he tried to win the ball back.

We’ll all be back at The Lane on Sunday for Stoke, who had two players sent off in the first half at Newcastle, subsequently losing 5-1. Mark Hughes’ side won’t be taking prisoners against Spurs, will they?

I did consider using the headline “Spurs are going nowhere”, and sadly, on this form I do feel that is the case. There is no way that on current form Spurs are going to provide strong opposition in the forthcoming games at Old Trafford and The Emirates. As for The Europa League, as soon as we come up against any formidable side, we’ll be out. Spurs have gone backwards this season, and that trend will continue. What and where next for Levy?

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