WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Away)
Wednesday 25th August 2004
So, for the first time this season, Tottenham will play a team who are not selling one of their players to Real Madrid ... although if the news contained in the story in today's Guardian is true, it appears we might be gaining one from the Bernabeu.
As it is, we have two players who might play in this match, although perhaps they will be kept back for Saturday's game, but Pamarot looks like he could be handy in a battle.
With two draws in their first two games, WBA have showed that Gary Megson has got them organised and hard to beat. The last time they were in the Prem., they had a tough start and the Midlanders are keen to ensure that they don't get cut adrift too early in proceedings. That will leave Tottenham facing a hard game and in front of a passionate Baggies crowd, we will need to match their effort and then show our abilities to take something back to WHL.
Reliable keeper Russell Hoult was being touted as a possible to break into the England squad two seasons back, as he had plenty to do as Albion languished at the bottom of the table, but he will see a true England contender at the other end of the pitch. Spur swill find his handling safe and his height an asset in dealing with crosses, although his positioning lets him down sometimes. The back-up keeper is Tomasz Kuszczak, a Polish six-footer, who came in from Hertha Berlin and is a prospect for the future.
With one of their best players - Jason Koumas - missing through suspension, the midfield is stripped of one it's best providers. The Welshman's absence leaves a probable midfield of ex-Boro man Jonathan Greening, battler Andy Johnson, Dane Thomas Gaardsoe and Ricardo Scimeca. Both the latter two have been moved up from defence where they started off and have added a bit of grit in midfield, while Greening will be relied upon to make the telling passes to the front two. New Hungarian signing Zoltan Gera will be pushing for inclusion after a good subs appearance against Villa at the weekend and this might re-shape the midfield a bit, as he is a play-maker and it might mean one of the battlers dropping out of the side. It will be hard work against some hard workers and Tottenham will need to show the determination of the last two game sand not assume this will be a push-over. Other midfielders who might be considered by Megson are Artim Sakiri, the Macedonian who scored straight from a corner against Seaman; Sean Gregan is a tough tackling midfielder, but slow and supposedly on his way out of the club and James O'Connor, brought in from Stoke and a good runner with the ball and a player who has some consciousness of his defensive responsibilities.
The front two who will try and score the goals that Albion lacked last time they were in the top flight are Geoff Horsfield and Kanu. Horsfield has caused us trouble in the past in his Fulham and Birmingham City days, but with Naybet's experience, he might be tied up with Ledley providing some strength alongside Noureddine's know-how. Kanu is not blessed with the greatest pace and Naybet might take him, leaving Horsfield for Ledley. The former Gooner is tricky, there is no doubt about that, but having played so little regular first team football might have left him rusty and in need of sharpening up. Scott Dobie is an option and is a strong striker with good aerial ability and a fine shot. Similar to Horsfield, he is a bit more mobile and thus might pose more problems. With the new set-up at Spurs bringing in strong, athletic players, it might signal an end to players steam-rollering through our defence.
The opposition's defence
shows a fair bit of experience, but there are weaknesses that we could
make the most of. Darren Moore is a huge physical presence in the
back four, if he does play, but he lacks pace and trying to deal with
Defoe might be difficult for him, so isolating Jermain on him must be a
focus for the team. It is more likely that he will try and take
Fredi, although Kanoute's tricks and pace might fool Moore, but with
Robbie Keane more likely to feature, he will be just as hard a match for
the giant central defender. A better prospect for Albion would be
to play Darren Purse, who is a bit more flexible and might be more of an
obstacle for our front two. Having been sent off in Euro 2004 for
Switzerland, Bernt Haas will be hoping for a better season with WBA.
A solid enough defender, he might find some familiar faces to oppose him
this season, but Spurs will have the benefit of Defoe not playing in
Portugal. His speed is a problem for any defender, but the ability
to turn his man might mean yellows for many an opponent ... including
Haas. One defender who has been around for quite a while is
ex-Chelsea man Neil Clement. The possessor of a neat left foot,
Clement takes a wicked free-kick and can deliver good crosses into the
box, but they will have to be good ones to evade Robbo. The
defensive side of his game is not 100% and Spurs might benefit from
attacking on his flank, although we lack a recognised right
midfielder/winger. Former Watford defender Paul Robinson tried to
kick lumps out of Spurs last time he faced us in a friendly for his old
club and he obviously has a bit of a problem playing against us, but he
will need to be on his toes to catch our forwards and wide midfielders
as they push forward. He is a crunching tackler, but it remains to
be seen if he can keep up to the standard of the Premiership.
For Tottenham, it is necessary to keep the good shape and effort they have shown so far and to continue the run of results they have already achieved. It is not a foregone conclusion that we will walk away with three points from this match, but the management appear to have worked well with the squad and will have done their homework on WBA to ensure they make some headway ...
PREDICTION : - West Bromwich Albion 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
MEHSTG was unable to obtain a view from the other side.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION : Rob Hulse (stomach); Lars Sigurdsson (knee); Jason Koumas (suspended)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Stephen Kelly (ankle); Simon Davies (shin); Dean Marney (Achilles); Rob Burch (ankle); Lee Barnard (fractured collar bone); Dean Richards (ear)
|West Bromwich Albion 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Half-time score : 1-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : The Hawthorns|
|Wednesday 25th August 2004||Kick Off : 17.45 p.m.|
|Crowd : 27,191||Referee : Barry Knight (Orpington)|
|Weather : Warm|
|Teams : -|
|West Bromwich Albion
Defoe (Keane 67)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|West Bromwich Albion
|Cards : -|
|West Bromwich Albion
|Match Report : -|
|In what was always going to be
a tough match, Spurs did enough just about to win against West Bromwich
Albion, but had to settle for a point as the game fizzled out after some
fierce exchanges at the Hawthorns.
Before you could blink, there we were one down. Davis fouled Greening and the free-kick wasn't cleared proficiently enough by Naybet and Gera snuck in behind Naybet and hit a 15 yard shot across Robinson with a fierce drive to put Tottenham behind. It was nearly two a minute or so later, when a through ball saw Kanu break the offside trap and it was only thanks to the ball hitting his hell that prevented him being through on Robinson. Naybet almost got caught in possession and Horsfield closed him down, but the Moroccan got away with it on the edge of his own area.
When Kanoute was away after a quarter of an hour, he failed to pick out Defoe and his ball was too far behind the striker and the chance went begging. The better opportunity fell to Pedro Mendes, shortly after, who hit a deflected shot that went for a corner. At least that was better than his next effort which flew well over the top. The Spurs fans were in good voice and "It's A Grand Old Team" rang out despite the score-line and they nearly had something to shout about when Spurs broke away from a WBA corner for Defoe to hit a shot that was pushed wide into the side of the net. All this arose after WBA's Paul Robinson cleared the ball straight into Atouba's "midriff", leaving him pole-axed for a few minutes.
The pressure that Spurs were building was starting to put the Baggies on the back foot and Davis' shot was fumbled by Hoult and Defoe was robbed, just as he was about to shoot. Some neat play around the edge of the box on the half hour, Atouba tried a shot (or was it a cross ?) that floated just over the bar. With the game swinging one way and then another, Gera went close after heading Kanu's cross goalwards and only Ledley King's presence stopped the ball on the line. Kanu was getting into the game and he tried something audacious and missed the target with his shot on goal.
Atouba started a move on the left, then the ball was played into Defoe, who exchanged passes with Kanoute and Jermain struck his left footed shot under Hoult from 20-odd yards for the Tottenham equaliser. His confidence was obviously bubbling, as he got the ball straight from the kick off and he tries to chip Hoult from 35 yards, but the ball bounced well in front of goal and went wide. It sparked Albion into action, with Pamarot making an important intervention at the far post to prevent Greening getting on the end of a cross. Robbo had to be smart to touch the ball away from Kanu and Horsfield as they tried to work the ball into the Tottenham box and the goalie was up to punch the ball away under pressure from the resulting corner.
The ball found it's way into the Spurs net although Robinson had made a sharp save to keep it out originally, after the ball had hit the post, but Kanu's effort was ruled out for offside, much to the relief of the travelling Tottenham support. It signalled an untidy spell leading up to half-time and neither side did much of note, apart from Naybet needing a bit of attention from the physio for a bang on the head.
After the break, Spurs came within inches of scoring to put them ahead. Sean Davis played the ball in and Jamie Redknapp stepped over it to leave Defoe in and he blasted a rocket shot that cannoned off the post and off for a throw-in !! In the next minute, Davis hit a right foot shot that Hoult saved, but had to scramble the rebound away for a corner to stop another goal.
Tottenham began living on the wire a bit with the offside trap almost being beaten, but the assistant referee was quick on his flag and seemed to get most of his decisions right. A flurry of shots rained in on the Albion goal and a free-kick awarded for a foul saw Edman bend one into the six yard box, but nobody attacked the ball. From the "Teddy" corner routine, Jamie pitched it high over the top.
Twenty minutes into the half, Kanoute went through with a neat piece of skill and his shot was dragged wide, but his shirt was dragged back far further by Gaardsoe and a shout for a foul would not have gone amiss. This incident saw Defoe leave the field with Robbie Keane coming on to join Fredi up front. It seemed to work well, as Davis' back-heel after being given the ball by Keane, set up Kanoute, but his shot was deflected wide.
The game died out as the final whistle approached and a draw was perhaps the right result in the end. The home side showed that they are better equipped for the Premier League this time, although their inability to convert chances is their biggest worry, while Spurs continued their recuperation from the major surgery Santini, Jol and Arnesen have carried out this summer.
Pamarot looked solid enough on his debut, with some strong challenges, some pace and showing that he is not afraid to stand up for himself against WBA's Paul Robinson (see the match preview as a prediction of what was to come). Atouba again demonstrated he has skill to go with his power and Sean Davis was majestic in midfield. If Sven thinks Robbo is playing well in goal, then perhaps it won't be long before Sean gets a look in too. Jermain will also keep catching the manager's eye with his goals and although he came off today, he will be back in the starting line-up for the Birmingham match.
Fredi did well today considering he has been out since Saturday with his thigh injury and Mendes gets better with each game. The Naybet-King partnership continues to develop, with Edman putting in solid performances and getting forward more as he settles into the system. Redknapp looked OK too and will be used sparingly by Santini to get the most out of him and he might well be alternated with Carrick once he is ready to take part in match play.
It is still early days yet, but there is a plan in place that they seem to be sticking to ... and it seems to work !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SEAN DAVIS
|Other scores this mid-week :|
|Birmingham City||1||Manchester City||0||Tuesday|
|Charlton Athletic||3||Aston Villa||0||Wednesday|
|Newcastle United||2||Norwich City||2||Wednesday|
|11||West Bromwich Albion||3||0||3||0||3||3||3||0|
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