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Spurs v West Bromwich Albion, 21.09.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER, 2014
(1.30PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (0)

Scorer:-
Morrison, 74

Attendance:- 35,861

Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- M McDonough & C Hatzidakis
Fourth Official:- R East

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Dier, Kaboul (Capt.), Chiriches, Rose; Dembele (sub Paulinho, 61), Capoue (sub Lennon, 76); Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli (sub Soldado, 76); Adebayor

Subs not used:- Vorm; Vertonghen, Naughton; Bentaleb

Booked:- Rose (foul), Soldado (foul on Lescott)

West Brom (4-4-1-1):- Foster; Wisdom, Dawson, Lescott, Pocognoli; Dorrans, Morrison, Gardner, Brunt (Capt.); Sessegnon (sub Anichebe, 91); Berahino

Subs not used:- Myhill; Baird, McAuley; Mulumbu, Gamboa; Ideye

Booked:- Sessegnon (foul on Lamela), Foster (time wasting)

Baggies end 30 years of hurt

With a result that surprised all pundits, and made all bookies happy, West Brom achieved their first win at White Hart Lane for 30 years. The win was deserved too. It was a momentous day for West Brom fans and connections, so happy to see their team off the bottom of the table, where they had started the day. The hurt for Spurs fans goes on, and on. We’ve missed out on an opportunity to go third, but fallen to ninth. We are still above Liverpool and Manchester United (who lost 5-3 at Leicester), but Leicester and West Ham are above us. Of course, that is not where we want to be.

After the game, I visited “The Beehive” pub in Bruce Grove, outside which a banner has a picture of Daniel Levy, and a spoof quote of “More ales than I’ve had managers”. Well, I wonder how long this one will last. It wasn’t AVB on speed today, but AVB in slow motion.

I had the good fortune to enjoy hospitality in the Pat Jennings lounge today. I met gentleman, footballer, and legend Gary Mabbutt. Now there was a footballer and Captain who knew how to inspire his team-mates. Also sighted were Martin Chivers – a player who put a few goals away in his time, and Phil Beal – a player who always played with his heart and soul, and defended stoutly. Then there was John Pratt. Not my favourite player back in the day, but one whose effort could never be doubted. How Spurs could have done with the skill, passion and pride of players such as these. Like all Spurs fans, the Spurs legends were dismayed and ashamed of the result today.

That team that lost 3-2 at home to West Brom in November 1984, had played 8 games in October, and would play 7 in November. Their next appointment would be a UEFA Cup game against Club Brugge (won 3-0), and away games against Nottingham Forest and Ipswich (both won). Mauricio Pochettino will need to shake his men up radically before our next appointment with Forest on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, never mind Arsenal away next week. Still, perhaps we can do a “Baggies” on them, eh? I know. Wishful thinking.

We can’t of course claim Europa League blues, because all ten outfield players had not started on Thursday and only Lamela and Capoue of today’s starters had featured in Belgrade. Substitutes Lennon, Paulinho and Soldado had also been involved, but did not start today.

Mysteriously, neither Fazio or Stambouli had been involved today, but will surely be required next week. I’ve been a defender of Vlad Chiriches until now, but in this game he was truly dire, which has been reflected in the Spursometer in which he is currently graded at 3.2 out of 10. Virtually everything Chiriches touched today turned not to gold, but to dust. West Brom’s Berahino turned him inside out at will. Arguably, Chiriches should not have conceded the corner (out near the touchline) from which West Brom scored, but then the visitors had far more clear cut chances than did the home team, giving Hugo Lloris a busier time then Ben Foster.

It is not at all fair to blame only Chiriches. All the Spurs team are culpable. That starts with Lloris, whose distribution was often lamentable, and whose hesitation when trying to clear was latched upon by the keen red-shirted West Brom forwards, causing Spurs to even struggle to clear their lines in what should have been simple circumstances. West Brom operated with two solid banks of four, closely marking our players as they moved forward, and usually dispossessing them too easily. Lamela excited with his runs but often ran into trouble. Dembele carried the ball forward, but usually ran into trouble. Eriksen was our play-maker, but when he did offer a good ball to Adebayor in the middle, the striker was disposed by the likes of Joleon Lescott, making his debut for West Brom today. When Spurs did cross, the target was rarely reached.

Despite their ardent defensive work, West Brom also moved forward with purpose, and the far too open Spurs midfield was reluctant to obstruct their path forward. Capoue made some good interventions, and even Lamela was spotted on defensive duties, but most of Spurs efforts were tame to say the least.

West Brom looked brighter from the start and created several chances. Firstly, after a corner the ball was returned to the area, where Dawson headed over. Then Gardner sent Berahino clear down the inside left channel, but the striker fired wide. At last Spurs managed an effort on goal, after Danny Rose crossed, Adebayor got a head to the ball but so did the defence, who conceded a corner. West Brom managed a period of pressure upon the Spurs goals, winning two successive corners.

The atmosphere became subdued, apart from the away fans. Even the South Stand was out-sung on occasions by the Paxton End. Perhaps some of the former South Stand fans have moved?

Lamela got the ball into no-man’s-land after 11 minutes, but could not find a team-mate there. A minute later, thanks to good skill and effort by Chadli, Danny Rose crossed into the same zone, but West Brom cleared again. Lloris had to make a good save, diving to his left to save Gardner’s shot. Dembele hit a good pass to Eriksen down the inside left channel, and he hit a good low pass centrally for Adebayor, but again, the defence had the upper hand, with Foster ultimately beating the striker to the ball.

West Brom did have the ball in the net after 36 minutes, thanks to Berahino, but he had been flagged offside. Spurs did look lively just before the break with a couple of decent attempts. First Dier had sent Chadli on a run into the area. He couldn’t get a shot in, but teed up Eriksen, who did hit a shot which was deflected for a corner, from which Kaboul headed over. Then came a great little spell of possession, which Chiriches getting forward, feeding Eriksen towards the left. He tried one shot which was blocked, moved more to his left and hit a defender’s hand with his next attempt (no handball given), before finally crossing to Adebayor, who hit his attempt over.

Spurs won a couple of corners early in the second half, but West Brom survived this spell of pressure. Back at the other end, it was time for Berahino to give Chiriches nightmares, turning him inside out before firing low at Lloris’s goal, where Hugo made another good save. Once again, Hugo is the only Spurs player emerging from the game with credit. We’d best make the most of watching him this season, because he isn’t going to win anything with us, is he?

Pochettino made a double substitution on the hour, with Paulinho replacing Dembele, and Soldado replacing Chadli. Neither made any significant impact. Paulinho’s confidence seem to have been well and truly shot by his World Cup experience, and whilst he did try an overhead kick late in the game, he succeeded with little. The Spurs midfield and attack seemed to have less bite than before, after the changes.

Spurs won a free kick after 62 minutes, taken quickly by Dier. Eriksen put a ball into the box for Adebayor, and Foster struggled to clear, but ultimately, the West Brom defence won a free kick on the edge of their area.

Morrison had fired a warning shot on the Spurs goal after 69 minutes, receiving the ball from the left, before testing Lloris with his low shot. At the other end, Kaboul crossed from the right and Soldado had an effort at the near post, saved by Foster. Morrison got on the score sheet with ease with a free headed from close range from Brunt’s corner at the back post. Lennon came on for Capoue, as Spurs’ aim was clearly to attack and win at least a point.

West Brom were canny though, and had been craftily playing down the clock from the outset, although no time had been added in the first half. Foster did get booked for time wasting, but only in added time, by which time, all Spurs had managed was an Eriksen free kick fired straight at the keeper, and Paulinho’s overhead attempt from a Lennon cross. The biggest cheers during this period were for the Leicester – Man Utd scores being flashed across the Jumbotron.

It was another case of a good day out being ruined by the football, I’m afraid. We can guarantee plenty more such occasions. Unused substitutes Vertonghen, Naughton and Bentaleb had a thorough running session after the game, and can surely expect to be involved on Wednesday night.

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