The first of Albion’s tricky trio of successive games against three of the Premier League’s top four is against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur at the Hawthorns on Saturday. The Argentine has guided Spurs to an impressive unbeaten league start culminating in an impressive victory over leaders, Manchester City, before the international break.
The Lilywhites only defeat this season came at Wembley in their home Champions League fixture against Monaco, but they have won all five of their games in all competitions since then scoring eleven goals and conceding just one, at Middlesbrough in a 2-1 win.
Spurs have only conceded twice in the Premier League this season, but if there is a thread of comfort for the Baggies, both of those goals have come from set pieces. Four of Albion’s eight goals this season have come from set pieces – no team has scored more set piece goals in the Premier League this season.
The last meeting between the sides was probably the game that all but confirmed that Leicester City would take the Premier League title as Albion claimed an unlikely point at White Hart Lane thanks to a second half equaliser by Craig Dawson, from a set piece of course.
Four of the last six games have finished all square, with the other two games finishing in away wins. The Baggies win at the Lane two years ago is their only victory in this fixture in the last 13 meetings since their last home victory in December 2008 when late goals from Roman Bednar and Craig Beattie.
One obvious talking point this time around is that this is Nacer Chadli’s first game against his old club. Albion’s record signing has had a very promising start to his Hawthorns career with three goals and two assists in his four appearances so far, and I’m sure the visit of his former teammates will give him plenty of motivation to continue his good form.
Albion’s form has not been bad of late, but two draws from their games away at the league’s bottom two sides were not the results they needed ahead of a difficult run of games. The failure to capitalise on a number of good chances at the Stadium of Light last time out was particularly disappointing and such profligacy is unlikely to go unpunished this weekend. Spurs have not missed the injured Harry Lane too much with Son Heung-min hitting form scoring twice at the Riverside, once in Moscow in the Champions League and putting in a man of the match performance against Man City.
It may be that the international break came at the right time for Albion, although Son scored again for his country in the win over Qatar in Seoul. He has, however, played 180 minutes for his country in the last week travelling in excess of 11,000 miles in the process, with the second match in Iran on Tuesday, so he may not be in the best physical condition come Saturday.
The Baggies, of course, have their own long distance international in Salomón Rondón, who also played 180 minutes for La Vinotinto. Unfortunately, they lost both games, 1-0 at home to Paraguay before a 3-1 defeat to Brazil in Fortaleza in Tuesday evening. Pulis has tended to rest Rondón after international breaks so it could be that Hal Robson-Kanu, who played half an hour as a substitute in Wales’s 1-1 draw with Georgia in Cardiff on Sunday, may get a chance to make his home debut.
If Spurs continue in the form they showed prior to the break, Albion will struggle to get anything from this game. Spurs inflicted Tony Pulis’s first defeat as Albion boss when they won 3-0 at the Hawthorns at the end of January 2015, but he has secured a point in both games against Spurs since then, and I think this game will be another draw.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
25 Apr 2016 – Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Dawson (o.g.))
West Brom 1 (Dawson)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
5 Dec 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (McClean)
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Alli)
21 Sep 2014 – Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 0
West Brom 1 (Morrison)
Last win at the Hawthorns
28 Dec 2008 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Bednar, Beattie)
Tottenham Hotspur 0
Albion’s Record against Tottenham Hotspur
|Premier League Record|