Tottenham Hotspur got the early lead on West Bromwich Albion today, but couldn't hold onto it and limped to a very disappointing 1-1 draw at the Hawthornes. Dele Alli got Spurs' only goal, but James McClean equalized late in the first half to account for the scoring.
Spurs started off the match with Son Heung-Min on the bench as Erik Lamela started in his place on the right side of midfield. Dele Alli also returned to the side after his suspension last week.
The match started off relatively cagey. West Brom's plan was to put men behind the ball and counter-attack, which was expected from a Tony Pulis side. Spurs had the bulk of the possession early, but as unable to capitalize for much of the opening quarter of the half.
Spurs had a scary moment early: an Albion counter-attack led to Salomon Rondon with a one-on-one with Jan Vertonghen. Rondon got a step on Jan but luckily fired the ball wide.
Tottenham opened up their scoring in the 15th minute with a beautiful goal. Toby Alderweireld put in a stunning long-range pass over the West Brom back line. It found Dele Alli in the box between two defenders, and he one-touched the ball past Boaz Myhill to put Spurs up 1-0.
Unfortunately, that was Spurs' best moment. West Brom started dictating the tempo of the match and winning the midfield thanks to a very suspect first half from Eric Dier. West Brom's equalizer didn't even come off of a counter: Darren Fletcher put in a baseline cross to James McClean, who got on the wrong side of Walker and headed the ball past Lloris. It was a rare defensive miscue from Spurs, but a costly one.
The first half ended 1-1.
The second half started with no changes for either side, and it was a mostly uphill battle for Tottenham. Playing with a swirling wind at the Hawthornes, Spurs looked off the boil for the majority of the match, but wasn't helped by Jonathan Moss and the officiating team, who let both sides play very physical.
And in fact, Spurs uncharacteristically gave West Brom numerous offensive chances from the buildup of play. Hugo Lloris made a fantastic reaction save late in the match and had a few other very good stops. On the other side, Harry Kane nearly scored after receiving the ball in the box, but his effort was cleared off the line by Albion's defense.
Looking for a creative spark, Mauricio Pochettino inserted Son Heung-Min for Erik Lamela in the 65th minute, and later replaced Dele Alli with Clinton N'Jie, but neither were able to break down a West Brom team set up to counter-attack.
Spurs also thought they had a chance on goal from Clinton after he looked to be clear on goal. The referee judged Clinton to be offside and stopped play, but the replay showed him to be on.
The match devolved into hard fouling late – James McClean should've been sent off in the 83rd minute after a horrendous tackle on Mousa Dembele, but Moss waved play on. Hard fouls and players on the ground were frequent as the match came to a close, but neither side were able to break through and the match ended 1-1.
- There's no real way around it: Spurs were poor today. Someone on Twitter said that this match was the closest performance to last season's Spurs from any we've had this year, and I agree. It was a frustrating match to watch, as Spurs are normally much better than that.
- I'm not one to blame a bad performance on the officiating team, but Jon Moss was absolutely atrocious today. He lost control of the match early on, missed many, many fouls (some of them blatant), and the phantom offside on N'Jie was dreadful. How he didn't send off James McClean for his tackle on Dembele is mind-boggling. Have fun officiating in League Two next week, Jon.
- Eric Dier had his worst performance of the season as a defensive midfielder. That's unquestionable. All players have them, and he's been good enough all season that I'm not worried about him, but he should've been pulled at halftime. A bad day at the office. Shake it off, put it behind you, and move forward.
- Harry Kane and Kyle Walker were also pretty poor on the day. Harry wasn't getting great service, but he also wasn't getting into his usual good positions to receive the ball. Walker was just... ugh. Bad Kyle Walker™ turned up today, and it sucks.
- Full credit to West Brom: they had a plan (defend, counter, get a draw) and they executed it very well. They looked a lot like Stoke City under Pulis in the process, but they got a point out of it. Note also that we didn't see Berahino in this match? Let's not go for him this January.
- Man of the Match? Probably Toby Alderweireld. He was resolute in defense, and his pass to Dele Alli for the goal was, if I can channel Ray Hudson for a second, "magisterial."
- I said this on Twitter but I'll say it again here: in a vacuum an away point against a mid-table side managed by Tony Pulis isn't an awful result, but considering our position in the table and other results today, this was a major, major missed opportunity by Spurs to really make a statement as a top four contender. Spurs didn't lose (14 unbeaten!) but they really should've won and I am Internet Mad™ about it.