Spurs move on from one bird breed to another in the Premier League schedule. After facing the Canaries in midweek, West Bromwich Albion await on Sunday.
West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2013
Kick-off: 13:30 GMT
Stadium: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Spurs will be looking to bounce back after they dropped 2 points away at Norwich in midweek. Spurs trailed 1-0 for most of the game after a 32nd minute goal by Wes Hoolahan. The equaliser came courtesy of a moment of brilliance by Gareth Bale who picked up the ball just over the half-way line and raced past three Norwich players before he fired his shot into the bottom-left corner.
Spurs’ most influential player was new signing Lewis Holtby, who was brought on after 71 minutes and sparked life into Spurs’ attacking moves. Spurs could’ve taken all 3 points in the end if Mark Bunn had not pulled off a brilliant save to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose 89th-minute long range effort almost crept into the bottom-left corner.
West Brom are on a dire run, having won just 2 of their last 10 league games. Their last league win dates back from last year’s Boxing Day when they beat QPR 1-2 away at Loftus Road.
Last Wednesday The Baggies were undone by 2 goals by Leighton Baines when they lost 2-1 to Everton. A week ago West Brom managed to fight back from 2-0 down in the local derby against Aston Villa. Ironically, Peter Odemwingie scored the equaliser with just 1 minute of regular playing time to go.
Tom Huddlestone returns to the fold for Sunday’s game. The midfielder missed the game against Norwich on Wednesday with a quad muscle injury.
Apart from long-term absentees Sandro (knee) and Younes Kaboul (knee) Tottenham’s head coach André Villas-Boas has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
Emmanuel Adebayor is still unavailable after he advanced to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with Togo.
Aaron Lennon will make his 300th appearance for Spurs on Sunday.
Peter Odemwingie will not feature for West Brom after his disgraceful conduct on deadline day earlier this week.
Both Zoltan Gera and George Throne both suffered ruptured knee ligaments in January. They are both out for the rest of the season.
Yusuf Mulumbu has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations after DR Congo were eliminated in the group stage. He will face a late fitness test.
- Spurs and West Brom have faced each other 13 times in the Premier League.
- Spurs have won 6, drawn 5 and lost 2 of these encounters.
- Spurs won 3-1 at The Hawthrons last season, the only victory in their last 6 visits.
- West Brom have won 55%, drawn 15% and lost 30% of their last 20 home game
- Spurs have won 35%, drawn 30% and lost 35% of their last 20 away games.
- Spurs have failed to score in 30% of their last 20 away games.
- West Brom have scored 1 goal or less in 50% of their last 20 home games.
- Spurs have scored 1 goal or less in 11 of their last 20 away games, going on to win 0, draw 6 and lose 5 of these matches.
- West Brom last conceded more than 2 goals at home 13 games ago.
- West Brom have scored first in 12 of their last 20 home games, going on to win 10, draw 0 and lose 2 of these matches.
- Spurs have won 9, drawn 7 and lost 4 of their last 20 matches against lower ranked league opposition.
- West Brom’s last clean sheet at home dates back to 16 December 2012 when they drew 0-0 against West Ham.
- Gareth Bale has scored 27% of Spurs’ goals in their last 20 away games.
- In their last 20 away games, 38% of the 26 goals conceded by Spurs have come from forwards, 46% from midfielders and 15% from defenders.
- In their last 20 home games, 18 of the 32 goals scored by West Brom have come from forwards, 10 from midfielders and 3 from defenders.
Total Tottenham prediction
It’s time for Spurs to shift gears and get back into a winning mood. We have drawn the last 3 league games, albeit a point against Manchester United is hardly ever a bad result. The performance in the FA Cup against Leeds was downright embarrassing and the team still needs to show they have recovered from that. The first 45 minutes against Norwich were far from impressive and it took the introduction of new boy Holtby to really get going in the second half.
The main problem for Spurs at the moment seems to be making their opportunities count. Whether it’s a lack of quality on the final ball or poor finishing, things just haven’t been coming off for Spurs lately. Jermain Defoe is on a terrible run of form at the moment, scoring just 1 goal in his last 9 league appearances. With Adebayor gone on Africa Cup of Nations duty it is difficult to see anyone else but Dempsey given a shot in the striker position. Although his overall contribution might have been a bit disappointing in recent games, Dempsey has scored 4 goals in his last 5 appearances in all competitions.
New signing Holtby might be a perfect fit in behind Dempsey to ramp up the goalscoring and to provide that all important final ball. Before he joined Spurs last week, Holtby provided 7 assists and scored 4 goals in 18 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke. He might provide the kind of one-two quick combination chemistry with Dempsey that has been so sorely missing in recent months.
West Brom’s back four doesn’t look that solid at the moment and the lack of pace and mobility could prove to be a fatal weakness against a Spurs side full of pace and quick passing combinations. Especially the centre-back pairing are prone to be drawn out of position, when mostly Olssen decides to surge forward to provide pressure on the ball. It will be key for our striker to time his runs to exploit these gaps in West Brom’s back four.
West Brom’s full-backs will be in for a torrid time against Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. Both Jones and Ridgewell lack pace and especially Jones can be caught with a ball over the top because he often gets dragged out of position if his direct opponent drops deep. Although Ridgewell is a pretty solid defender, the left-back position isn’t his natural position and it will be interesting to see how he copes up against Lennon.
West Brom do not pose considerable threat down the wings but their midfield has some goals in it. They will be without their most prolific midfielder Zoltan Gera, but both James Morrison and Chris Brunt have scored some screamers from outside the box this season. Hopefully Spurs have learned from some of their early fixtures of the season, in which they conceded some sloppy goals from the edge of the box, otherwise West Brom could definitely try their chances from long range when needed.
The most obvious threat will be Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian centre forward is a handful for any defence and caused a lot of havoc when he came on during West Brom’s visit to White Hart Lane earlier in the season. He’s tall, he’s strong, has a powerful shot and he’s pretty quick as well for a big unit. If West Brom manager Steve Clarke opts to play Shane Long alongside him they will form a dangerous target man/running man duo. Long loves to play off the shoulder of the last defender and if Lukaku could provide him with some knock-downs in the box he will definitely fancy his chances to score.
Final score: 1-3
Spurs need to get a result after 3 draws on the spin. Everton may have dropped points on Saturday but Arsenal are still only 4 points behind in 6th place. If Spurs manage to get all 3 points it will increase the pressure on third-placed Chelsea, who keep on giving away leads in the final 20 minutes of the game. 3rd place seems more up for grabs than ever and with a fresh spark from Holtby and good performances by in-form players like Bale and Lennon Spurs should be able to break West Brom’s resolve. Dempsey will have to come up with the goods if he gets the nod over Defoe and he might prove more effective when he gets instructions to stay up top rather than play in between the striker and midfield.