SATURDAY 15TH OCTOBER, 2016
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)
West Brom scorer:-
Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- J Collin, D Cann
Fourth official:- M Clattenburg
West Brom (4-2-3-1):- Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher (Capt.); Phillips (sub Brunt, 69), Chadli (sub Gardner, 88), McClean; Rondon
Subs not used:- Myhill; Olsson; Morrison; Robson-Kanu, Leko
Booked:- McClean (foul on Davies), Evans (foul on Son)
Spurs (4-1-4-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld (sub Dier, 60), Vertonghen, Davies; Wanyama; Sissoko (sub Dembele, 65), Eriksen, Alli, Lamela (sub Son, 72); Janssen
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier; Nkoudou, Onomah
Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Chadli), Dembele (simulation)
There’s nothing worse than the “Ex-Factor” on a Saturday
Despite dominating the first half with 76% possession and several good chances, and despite over 70% possession over the course of the game, Spurs fell foul to the “Ex-factor” when Nacer Chadli fired home from short range, after Hugo Lloris had just about kept out a James McClean shot. To his credit, Chadli raised his hands indicating he would not be celebrating the goal against his old team, but that didn’t make the away fans any happier. The goal came late in the game and it looked as if we would surrender our unbeaten record, before Dele Alli fired home an 89th minute equaliser. Son Heung-min had been a late substitute for an out of form Erik Lamela, and had done well on the left before putting the ball into the middle of the box, where it fell to Alli’s feet after taking a ricochet. Alli made no mistake, and Spurs might even have had an added time winner, when Eriksen’s free kick was pushed over the bar by the excellent Ben Foster in goal.
Despite the fact they were playing a big team there were plenty of gaps in the home section, and to be honest, I can understand the absence of some West Brom fans bearing in mind some of the attritional football they play under the command of Tony Pulis. Foster was doing his best to slow down the game and soak up as much time as he could right from the start. Referee Kevin Friend did have words in the first half, but I don’t think enough time was added on despite two minutes at the end of the first half, and five at the end of the second period. Initially, “The Baggies” if they were lined up in three banks of three behind striker Rondon, but Nyom was the left back, getting forward to offer support to McClean. Not that the home side did get forward much in the first half, as Spurs played their usual patient, pressing build-up game where possession is key, even at the expense of a backward pass.
With an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League game, Son was being held back to start against his old team. Janssen led the line and did a very good job, holding up the ball, and feeding it well to his supporting players. Sissoko started on the right, with Eriksen and Alli inside. This put Lamela on the left, but ironically, despite being left-footed, Erik plays better on the right. Later in the game when he switched with Sissoko, he still looked out of sorts, with too many attacks falling through his feet. Wanyama shone, and Spurs were solid at the back, although rarely tested. Kyle Walker got the nod today, do doubt to tackle McClean, who is one of West Brom’s big threats.
There was a major disappointment for Spurs in the second half, when Toby Alderweireld had to be stretchered off, having fallen awkwardly when rising with Vertonghen to defend a rare home corner. I fear Toby could be out for a while, which is a severe blow for the club.
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Spurs kicked off and played towards their fans in the South Stand, with Lloris having to deal with bright sunshine. Whilst Spurs were well on top, it was 10 minutes before a chance of note arose. Alderweireld played an excellent ball to Lamela on the left. Erik played a one-two pass with Janssen before firing wide across Foster’s goalmouth. The referee was generally very lenient, which I felt worked in favour of the home side, who like to get stuck in. For example, Sissoko was making aa good run down the right and was stopped in his tracks by Nyom, but Mr. Friend saw no offence. Sissoko played a ball inside from the right after 15 minutes but Eriksen’s shot was held. Eriksen later took a free kick from deep on the right, which was headed out as far as Ben Davies, who hit a powerful shot, deflected over the goal for a corner.
West Brom had an attack after 25 minutes when the ball was crossed from the left but Phillips headed well over goal. Another wall pass from Lamela to Janssen led to another chance for Eriksen, but his shot was deflected for another Spurs corner. Spurs enjoyed a period of slow build-up play with plenty of that possession before Alderweireld tried a shot from distance which passed wide. Kyle Walker crossed and Lamela slipped into the box hitting a shot that appeared to be handled, but the referee was having none of that! In the follow-up play, Dele Alli had a good chance blocked. Lamela took a free kick from the left and Sissoko tried a header before Alli tried an overhead shot at goal. This went just wide.
After 34 minutes, Eriksen fed a ball to Ben Davies towards the left of centre. Davies made a little run into the box before his shot was half saved by Foster, before being cleared by his defence. Janssen laid off a good ball for Alli, but Foster saved his shot too. After 41 minutes Eriksen was presented with perhaps Spurs’ best chance. Janssen fed Alli, who passed to Eriksen on his right. Eriksen fired low, and Foster was able to save when a lifted shot would surely have hit the net. Spurs were awarded a corner, and Foster was getting words from the referee over wasting more time over a goal-kick. McClean got the first booking of the game when he tackled Ben Davies too forcefully. Both players needed time to recover, but it was McClean who was down longer.
Lamela and Sissoko had swapped sides, as had McClean and Phillips. Just before the break, when McClean hit a left footed shot, Lloris saved, but not cleanly, but Vertonghen was on hand to clear from Rondon.
West Brom seemed to have more attacking intent in the second half, and I was hoping this would lead to more space for Spurs on the break. The home side had an early corner, and Spurs were not convincing in their attempts to clear. McAuley had a tame shot across the goal, which was not even aimed at the target. Soon after this Vertonghen was booked for a foul on his former team-mate Chadli, and it wasn’t long before Spurs fans were distressed by that Alderweireld fall. Toby knew he was hurt badly, as he banged his fist into the ground in his frustration. Eric Dier replaced him.
Spurs had not been making the headway they had enjoyed in the first half, but after 61 minutes Eriksen found Sissoko on the left Moussa cut inside and hit a shot which took a deflection for a corner. Soon after this, Sissoko was replaced by Dembele, who we had thought was not going to be available. Mousa was cheered by his fans, who also chanted his name. However, more Spurs defending was required, and when McClean looked as if he would get away down the left, Kyle Walker raced back, and managed to take the ball off McClean’s feet with an excellent improvised scissor tackle. Ben Davies found Lamela with an excellent cross-field ball. Lamela crossed and there were half-chances for Spurs with Eriksen and Alli in the fray.
Now Lamela was replaced by Son, whose first involvement was to carry the ball with threat and pace down the left wing. Eriksen had a chance from the left of goal, but his shot was deflected into the side netting. McClean had a chance at the other end, and once again Jan Vertonghen made a great clearance at the cost of a corner. Sadly, after the corner, McClean hit a shot from the left which Hugo Lloris just about managed to claw out of the net, but Chadli was on hand to take advantage of the rolling ball.
Now Spurs attacked with more urgency than had been seen throughout the game. Janssen hit an excellent left footed shot from 25 yards, which was well saved by Foster. Dembele carried the ball on a run to the edge of the West Brom area, but was rightly booked for simulation. The equaliser when it came started with good work by Son on the left, whose low pass to the middle fell to Alli, who made no mistake. Dele also scored in our 1-1 draw here last season. In added time Son was fouled by Evans, who was booked. Eriksen took the free kick from the left of the box, hitting it powerfully towards his far post on Foster’s left. The goalkeeper made his best save of the game to push the ball over and once the corner was taken the referee blew the final whistle.
Spurs have kept their unbeaten record, and matched Man City’s result, staying one point behind the leaders. Sadly we are no longer the top London side, as Arsenal beat Swansea 3-2 and are also one point ahead of us. It is tight at the top, and Liverpool could also overhaul us if they beat Man Utd on Monday night. The statistics say it should have been so much better for Spurs today, but as we all know, it’s goals that count.
The strength of the Spurs squad now faces a test as another key player has to lick his wounds and recover his fitness. We all know that Alderweireld has been a veritable rock since he arrived, and he has also been virtually ever-present.
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