OPPONENTS West Bromwich Albion
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 3rd February 2013
VENUE The Hawthorns






Having drawn their last three matches in the Premier League, Spurs will be looking to get back to winning ways at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.  Both sides face the game having had a relatively quiet transfer window, with Albion not signing anyone and having the trauma of the Odemwingie affair, while Spurs brought in Lewis Holtby as one for now and Ezekiel Fryers as one for later.

And Holtby might have done enough in the 20 minute cameo at Carrow Road to earn a first start ahead of Clint Dempsey.  The youngster's confidence is high and his performance showed an industry and touch, which will link the play to the forward line.  And with Spurs lacking in attack, he might also add a goal threat to the team.

Albion have lost five of their last six games, so will also being looking to arrest a slide down the table that has seen them slump to ninth.  With players not getting away in the transfer window, they will have a little more choice, although Odemwingie has been invited to stay away form the club for a week, so will not be involved.  That still leaves the considerable physical presence of Romalu Lukaku up front.  The Chelsea youngster is a bit of a beast and has developed into an effective scorer, as well as a player that a second striker can play off of.  Normally, that second striker would be the errant Odemwingie, but might be replaced with Shane Long, who had a good scoring burst at the start of the season.  Marc Antoine Fortune is also still at the Hawthorns, but has not been a regular this season and Markus Rosenborg is another choice, but hasn't had much playing time in the side.

Ben Foster has been installed as the number one at the Hawthorns, with a reputation of a good penalty saver, but his all round game has not developed as some might have hoped, he was at Man U, but there are elements of his decision making and handling that are causes for concern among the West Brom faithful.  The defence in front of him will contain  Swede Jonas Olsson, who dominates the centre of defence alongside Macedonian Goran Popov, who is new to the side this season.  Gareth McAuley and Billy Jones are currently filling the full back berths, leaving questions over their ability to handle pace, but former captain Liam Ridgewell has been on the bench of late, while Gabriel Tamas and Stephen Reid are also available to cover in the wide positions.

Chris Brunt is a good creator and has a fierce long range shot in his armoury, while James Morrison can dribble with the ball and is a good provider as he put sin dangerous crosses for the likes of Lukaku.  Graham Dorrans was highly regarded a couple of seasons ago, scoring goals and being deadly from free-kicks, but there were rumours he was going to leave Albion in the transfer window, so not sure where his future lies.  There are two dogged destroyers in the midfield in Claudio Yacob and (if he passes a late fitness test) Youssouf Mulumbu.  Yacob is a niggly type player, who is there to annoy, while Mulumbu is strong in Zoltan Gera is out for the season with a knee injury, so the options are limited, with Jerome Thomas' failure to complete a move to Blackburn Rovers being a bonus for Steve Clarke.

Having been on a dodgy run and with Spurs struggling in the striking department although Harry Kane has now returned and is likely to be on the bench, I think West Brom will be out to stifle the game and will be happy with a point.  Unfortunately for Spurs, I think that might be the most likely outcome and that will mean that these draws are killing Spurs at the moment.

PREDICTION West Bromwich Albion    1      Tottenham Hotspur   1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
Midfielder George Thorne will miss the rest of the season and the start of next with knee ligament damage and Zoltan Gera is also missing from that part of the team for the remainder of the club's  fixtures.  Midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu will face a late fitness test to see if he can play in this match.  Peter Odemwingie has been asked to stay away from the club this week by West Bromwich Albion after he sought to engineer a move to Queens Park Rangers.
With Emmanuel Adebayor playing in the African Cup of Nations quarter final on the same day, he is unavailable for selection, while Younes Kaboul is still coming back from knee surgery and Sandro has just undergone the same operation.  Harry Kane is back from his loan at NOrwich City and could make the bench, while Tom Huddlestone has shaken off the calf injury he had and will be fit for the game.

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West Bromwich Albion  0 (0)     
Premier League
Sunday 3rd February 2013                             
Venue :  The Hawthorns
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)

Kick off  13:30
None Bale 67
Dorrans (foul on Parker) 69  

Popov (spitting at Walker) 48



Crowd :   24,978 Weather :  Chilly
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear) Assistant Referees :  L. Betts; S. Child
Fourth Official :  Phil Dowd -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
West Bromwich Albion : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Ben FOSTER

  2  Stephen REID
23  Gareth McAULEY
  3  Jonas OLSSON
  4  Goran POPOV     

  7  James MORRISON
17  Graham DORRANS       (  8  Markus ROSENBERG 81)
  5  YACOB (32  Marc-Antoine FORTUNE 82)
11  Chris BRUNT  (c)

  9  Shane LONG
20  Romalu LUKAKU (  6  Liam RIDGEWELL 52)

Unused subs: 
13  Boaz MYHILL
28  Billy JONES
30  Gabriel TAMAS
14  Jerome THOMAS

  25  Hugo LLORIS

28  Kyle WALKER (13  William GALLAS 78)
20  Michael DAWSON  (c)

  7  Aaron LENNON (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON 86)
  8  Scott PARKER
19  Mousa DEMBELE
11  Gareth BALE 

  2  Clint DEMPSEY

18  Jermain DEFOE (23  Lewis HOLTBY 39)

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

Manager :  Steve Clarke Manager :   Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   Zoopla Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

This match showed two sides of the game and what is good and bad about it, as one foolish moment lead to Spurs having the swing towards them that ended with a 1-0 victory and an important result in our quest to stave off the challenges for fourth place.

A moment of disgusting ignorance saw Goran Popov dismissed by Mark Clattenburg for spitting at Kyle Walker.  Just a couple of minutes after half-time and following the Macedonian trying to be too clever in the corner of the pitch at his own end, but luckily ended up getting a goal-kick when Walker closed him down.  Words were exchanged and then Popov tried to exchange bodily fluids.  So, off he popped and Spurs then had it relatively easy.

Up until that point, West Bromwich Albion had put in a decent fist of it and frustrated Spurs, while trying, unsuccessfully to get forward.  Lloris had one save to make from Long when he went through on the left, which he beat away a low shot and there were a couple of low half-hit shots that he fielded, but it was generally a quiet day for the French captain, until a late flurry of action from Albion set-pieces.

The first half was a poor affair, with Spurs having the larger share of the possession.  They didn't do too much with it, with Bale's rising shot being tipped over the bar by Ben Foster just before the break being the best effort.  But by then, Jermain Defoe had hobbled off with a turned ankle and Lewis Holtby had come on in his place.  With no striker brought in during the transfer window, it looked like an accident waiting to happen.

Albion had the earliest chance, when Long was sent through the middle by a flick from Lukaku, but Walker got back and forced him wide, as did Lloris, who came out to meet him and the Irishman got his shot horribly wrong.  The home team were trying to work Spurs hard by closing down as quick as they could, but when they got possession ,they gave it away alarmingly cheaply.  Yacob was guilty of passing the ball off the pitch a number of times when a simple ball was on, with Brunt also being guilty of not finding his target.  The home team also relied on balls that were too long for Long and Lukaku.  Then when Lennon got away to the other end, his right wing cross tot he far post was headed down by Clint Dempsey, but wide, when it looked like he had a good chance to get it on target

With 20 minutes gone, Lloris had to be quick out to narrow the angle when Long was put through by Dorrans, with the keeper blocking his effort and there was only one other effort from WBA in the first half when Lukaku got onto Olsson's long ball but blazed wildly over.  For Tottenham, they got into some promising wide positions, but failed to find a silver and black shirt when the ball was played in.  When Bale went on a run from inside our half from the centre circle to the right hand corner of the box, before checking back inside to hit a shot that Foster just about tipped over, it was a signal that this might be the way through to goal.  His one effort earlier from a free kick on the edge of the box when Defoe was bundled over by Yacob saw the ball fly wide, but as Parker pulled Brunt away form the wall, Bale was aiming for the top corner of the goal and didn't miss by too much considering there wasn't much room to get the ball over the wall and down again.

The interval was followed by Popov's unrequested shower which earned him an early one and with his departure went Steve Clarke's grand plan of playing two forwards, with the rest of the team pressing Spurs players on the ball.  With Lukaku sacrificed to allow Ridgewell to come on as a specialist defender and with an extra man, Spurs enjoyed huge amounts of possession without too much interference.  They were running Albion ragged, but were failing to make the amount of ball they had pay.

Holtby came in from the left after BAE had played him in and forced a save from Foster similar to that by Lloris from Long earlier.  Both Benny and Kyle Walker fired over from corners, of which there was a procession ... none of which led to a goal.  When the ball was worked out to the right, Bale was tripped after he laid the ball off, but Spurs retained possession and after exchanging passes with Holtby and Walker, Gareth darted inside past Morrison and from the top of the D, he unleashed another of his left foot missiles, which ripped past Foster, before the keeper knew what was happening.  It was a fine shot and a goal that few keepers could have done much about, let alone Foster.

Dempsey fired in a low shot that Foster tipped away after Dembele had set his former Fulham tem-mate up.  After that Albion made a couple of attacking substitutions, but didn't have much luck, as  neither Rosenberg or Fortune hurt Spurs much, other than winning a couple of free-kicks, which were slung into the box and dealt with by Lloris, who is looking more and more comfortable with the high ball or ended with Spurs free-kicks, as a lot of the time Olsson is unable to jump for the ball without fouling someone.

Holtby was looking at home in the Spurs midfield, working hard and showing a nice awareness of where his team-mates were, as he set up Lennon on the left and cutting inside, Aaron struck a shot that Foster beat away.  At the end, Bale was carrying some wadding to tend to a cut lip caused by Steven Reid's forearm catching him in the face.  Some teams have real trouble trying to stop him in full flight and Albion were no different, with players seemingly taking turns to do it.  The only surprise is that Clattenburg didn't find it in him to book some more of their players.  Yacob, Brunt and Long all committed strings of niggly fouls and left feet in tackles when they were miffed about one of their own player stupidly getting himself sent off.

Perhaps it summed up Albion's day, when Chris Brunt was announced over the PA as their man of the match.  Not there that there were many in the side that he would have to push hard to win the award.  He had spent most of the match pushing Spurs players hard in the physical sense and with Albion's form dropping off as many expected it to, they must fear the dreaded post Christmas plummet and with dwindling resources and a lack of new legs, the last couple of months of the season could be nervy times for the Baggies.

As for Tottenham, well, the win was gratefully received and whether it would have been achieved without the sending off, who knows.  But with players like Gareth Bale in the side, it is always possible that the match-winner in him will come out.

Kirk Hammerton



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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 1 Stoke City 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Aston Villa 3 Saturday
Fulham 0 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 3 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 0 Norwich City 0 Saturday
Reading 2 Sunderland 1 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Swansea City 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 2 Southampton 2 Saturday
Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2 Sunday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 24 20 2 3 60 31 62 +29
2 Manchester City 25 15 8 2 47 21 53 +26
3 Chelsea 25 13 7 5 50 26 46 +24
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 25 13 6 6 42 29 45 +13
5 Everton 25 10 12 3 40 30 42 +10
6 Arsenal 25 11 8 6 49 29 41 +20
7 Liverpool 25 9 9 7 44 32 36 +12
8 Swansea City 25 8 10 7 34 28 34 +6
9 West Bromwich Albion 25 10 4 11 34 35 34 -1
10 Stoke City 25 6 12 7 25 31 30 -6
11 Sunderland 24 7 8 9 27 31 29 -5
12 Fulham 25 7 7 11 36 42 28 -6
13 West Ham United 25 8 6 11 28 36 30 -8
14 Norwich City 25 7 10 8 25 40 28 -15
15 Newcastle United 24 7 6 12 33 44 27 -11
16 Southampton 25 5 9 11 33 44 24 -11
17 Reading 25 5 8 12 32 46 23 -14
18 Wigan Athletic 25 5 6 14 29 47 21 -18
19 Aston Villa 25 4 9 12 23 49 21 -26
20 Queens Park Rangers 25 2 11 12 18 39 17 -19


Position before match :  4th
Position after match :   4th
Position after the weekend : 4th


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