Tottenham Hotspur take on West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns as they look to carry on from their win over Sunderland on Monday night. With a good away record this season, Spurs will hope to add another three points against Albion who are just outside the relegation zone.
Last season, Spurs won at the Hawthorns with a special strike from Gareth Bale. In this season’s match at White Hart Lane, it was Christian Eriksen who gave Spurs the lead with an outstanding strike from a free-kick, his first league goal for Spurs. Albion, however, responded within three minutes, scoring when the ball ran loose in the penalty area following another free-kick.
Date: Saturday, 12th April, 2014
Kick-off Time: 3.07pm (UK time) [As a mark of respect for the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster]
Tottenham’s Record at The Hawthorns (inc. PL)
P 60 W 16 D 10 L 34 For 77 Ag 123
Premier League Record at West Brom
P 7 W 3 D 3 L 2 For 9 Ag 9
Tottenham’s away record against West Brom is better in the Premier League era than in the history of these fixtures which stretches back to November, 1908, Spurs’ first season in the Football League when they lost 3 – 0 in a 2nd Division game.
Spurs are undefeated in their last 3 visits to Albion. Last season’s win was preceded by a 3 – 1 win in November, 2011 when Spurs came back after going behind in the 10th minute. Emmanuel Adebayor equalised before half-time when he had a penalty saved but then knocked in the rebound. Jermain Defoe scored after the interval and Adebayor scored his second in the final minute.
In September, 2010 Luka Modric scored midway through the first half before going off injured. Albion drew level just before half-time through Chris Brunt.
Like Tottenham, West Brom sacked their manager in December. Steve Clarke had a successful first season in charge with Albion finishing in 8th position last year. A defeat at Cardiff, their fourth consecutive loss, brought his time at The Hawthorns to a close with the team 15th in the League, just 2 points above the relegation places.
Albion took a month to find a replacement in Pepe Mel but in that time they drew 3, including the Boxing Day game at White Hart Lane and defeated Newcastle. They moved up to 14th with their only defeat being at Southampton.
Pepe Mel’s first game in charge was a 1 – 1 home draw against Everton when they came from behind to salvage a point. They have yet to achieve a home win under the new manager but have taken a point at the Hawthorns against Liverpool, Chelsea, Fulham (all 1 – 1) and Cardiff (3 – 3). The only blemish on their home record was last month’s 3 – 0 defeat by Manchester United. Last weekend they won a crucial away game at Norwich (1 – 0) which has given them a cushion against the threat of relegation.
They are currently in 16th place level on points with Norwich and 5 points ahead of Fulham in 18th place. Albion have a game in hand but after today’s game, they face trips to Manchester City, Arsenal and relegation-threatened Sunderland. They also play West Ham and Stoke at home.
Albion’s problem is that they have won only 6 games all season. They have 3 home wins over Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Newcastle. Their best win was the 3 – 0 success over Sunderland in late-September, their first win of the season. They immediately followed it up with an away win over Manchester United the following weekend. It has been a season of 14 draws for Albion fans, eight at home. Their other home defeats have been by Southampton and Swansea at the beginning of the season and Manchester City and Norwich in December.
They have scored only 19 goals at the Hawthorns and their leading goalscorer in all competitions is Berahino with 8 goals. Amalfitano has 4 goals and Anichebe has scored 3. Morgan Amalfitano scored the crucial first half goal at Carrow Road last weekend which lifted Albion ahead of Norwich and brought Chris Hughton the sack.
Spurs returned to winning ways with their 5 – 1 success over a poor Sunderland team. Having got their early defensive uncertainty out of the way, they recovered to level before half-time and take their chances after the interval with Christian Eriksen, Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane combining well.
Away from home, Spurs have recorded 9 wins this season with only their troubles against the top-4 keeping them out of a higher finish. Their defeat at Norwich was uncharacteristic this season as they have enjoyed considerable success on their travels.
Tim Sherwood, with the news of his expected departure, seemed more relaxed on Monday night but he will want to finish as strongly as possible to make his point and improve his standing should he be considered for another managerial appointment.
Spurs are likely to field a team similar to the one which defeated Sunderland. While Kane played as a striker on Monday night, he can drop deeper to support on the left of midfield if required for an away game. Spurs will still be without Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele and the ever-absent Erik Lamela through injury.
Albion have uncertainty over James Morrison but Chris Brunt and Claudio Yacob are expected to play.
Tottenham will hope to add to their away success but will face a well-organised and disciplined Albion team who are desperate for points and know that every win, even every point, takes them a step closer to securing their Premier League future. They have been hard to break down as recent results have shown but their lack of goals is a major problem for them.
A win for Spurs would as Eriksen said, “build confidence for next season” but if it’s to be achieved Spurs need to show more resilience in defence and avoid the individual errors which have been an unwanted feature of recent games. If they gift Albion a goal, Spurs might not be able to recover this time as happened in their defeat at Carrow Road. Whatever happens it will require a fully-focused Spurs team showing application and effort throughout the game as Albion will be no push-over despite their lowly league position.
I wonder if Spurs will manage to score in the opening 15 minutes.