Tottenham Hotspur put their undefeated Premier League record on the line against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday at the Hawthornes. Sensational would be an appropriate word for Spurs performance against Manchester City before the international break. If anyone re-watched the match, in place of the dreadful World Cup qualifiers that FIFA shoves down football's collective throat, then they would see that the instant reactions of many were, in fact, correct. In a recent memory full of acclaim, Tottenham Hotspur might have put in the zenith of their shifts two Sundays ago. Spurs currently sit second in the table, just one point behind Manchester City, with five wins and two draws.
West Brom haven't had the worst of starts either. The Baggies have accumulated nine points over the first seven and sit ahead of Southhampton, via goal differential, in ninth place. Albion's most impressive victory came on the opening day of the season in a 1-0 away win over Palace. While West Ham have been reprehensible thus far, a home win against the Hammers is a solid result for the Baggies. Outside of Everton though, West Brom haven't faced a top outfit thus far. In fact, they've encountered some of the worst; their last three matches were against the three sides holding down the relegation spots in Premier League table.
Tony Pulis is the manager for West Brom, thus individual talent and freedom of expression within the side were sent to the slaughterhouse years ago. The style of football and the doggedly conservative approach that Pulis employs are known quantities. His teams are big, strong, and direct; yet measured enough to be a pain here and there on the counter and nick a point, or three, off a better side.
The man who is most likely to nab a goal for Albion is none other than Nacer Chadli. Tottenham's recently departed porpoise has been involved in five of West Brom's last six goals, notching three goals and two assists in that profitable stretch. Salomon Rondon is also a threat leading Albion's line, while James McLean can be effective going forward, and Saido Berahino may or may not make the bench. Little Bear, contrary to the routines of his species, has been known to hibernate sporadically, no matter the season, since the summer of 2015.
It isn't the most glamorous of fixtures, but it is an important one nonetheless. This stretch of seven games, which starts on Saturday and culminates with Arsenal at the Emirates on November sixth, is important to our Premier League ambitions and absolutely vital to our Champions League standing. Its Pulis and its tedious, but if Spurs put forth the effort against West Brom, they have a real shot to remain undefeated and snag three points.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, October 15th, 2016, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: The Hawthornes, West Bromwich, UK
Official: Kevin Friend
TV: NBCSN Live Extra (USA), BBC Radio (UK), TSN1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Spurs got through World Cup qualifying unscathed, which is massive news within itself. The injury list is short, but star studded. Harry Kane remains out with his ankle injury (though his recovery is progressing nicely), while Mousa Dembélé is sidelined with, what appears to be, a short term foot injury.
It is still my belief that Eric Dier is the 1A to Victor Wanyama's 1B in Poche's mind, but boy did the Kenyan International make a statement against City. Poche is loyal to performances, not names, thus it would seem hard-pressed for him to sit Wanyama on Saturday. Either way, Dele Alli will be playing in front of whoever is deployed as the defensive midfielder.
Heung-Min Son will start against WBA, but not as a striker. Poche didn't buy Vincent Janssen for him to ride the pine in fixtures like this. Son's purple patch continued as a buzzing false nine against the Citizens, yet that was City, and this is West Brom. Janssen should be primed for a start and will be salivating to get on the scoresheet for his first Premier League goal.
Moussa Sissoko will be dropped from the attacking band and the starting lineup for Son, with Erik Lamela shifting over to his preferred spot on the right wing. Christian Eriksen will sit in front of Alli in the front three and should find joy dropping deeper and combining with the double pivot. The backline and goalkeeper are healthy and should remain the same.
Ben Daniels is both the noblest and most susceptible to join a cult among the group. He is a true believer and must be commended for his prediction of a 2-1 Spurs win. Captives, treasure, laurel crowns, flowers, incense, chariots and, of course, two strapping white oxen will accompany him home from work on Friday. [Editor's note: that's not in the budget, Matt.]
Everybody else were worthless, heretical fools. May god have mercy on our souls.
|Earl of Shoop||4|
Dustin Menno: I know, I know! It's West Brom, it's Nacer Chadli, it's Tony Pulis, it's the first match after an international break. Don't care. Spurs have defied all typical conventions thus far this season, and I expect it to continue. 3-1 Spurs, but Nacer Chadli scores because of course he does.
Matthew Pachniuk: Don't love the timing of this fixture as Bayer Leverkusen looms on Tuesday, and our momentum from the City game has probably hushed a bit. Still think we are coming out of this with three points though. WBA haven't played anyone formidable and just don't have that dynamic of a roster in general. It will be an insipid 2-0 win for Spurs.
Skipjack: The annual frustrating draw to West Brom is upon us. 1-1, and also probably some injuries.
Ben Daniels: West Brom utterly sucks. Nacer Chadli ain't gonna do a damn thing. But McCauley will probably score off a set piece or something dumb. 3-1 Spurs.
Brian Meyers: West Brom will do their best to make this one of the most boring games of the season. We win 2-0 on two ugly goals. The only thing that keeps us awake is Lamela nutmegging Chaldi into the upside down, while Danny Rose actually faints from disbelief in the background.
Pardeep Cattry: Nacer Chadli will, of course, score a wonder goal to send the Baggies up, but Sonny will get a brace. Another goal at the end will ensure that Spurs will get the three points. 3-1 Tottenham
Jake Meador: 2-1 win for Spurs, but a massively frustrating game and, of course, the dolphin gets their goal.
Alex Greenberg: Chadli is going to score and I'm going to cry. Revenge for the draws of last season won't be as sweet with the Dolphin on the other side, but the camera shots of an angry Tony Pulis will be glorious. Spurs go behind, but win 2-1.
GN Punk: Hurray! The International Break is over and we can focus on some great club football again! Who do we have that's sure to result in an amazing match???
Oh. It's West Brom and the Fighting Pulis Army.
Get ready for eleven behind the ball and endless counter attacks. I'm sure this will be fun. Anyways, 3-1 Spurs off of a Sonny brace and an Eriksen free kick. Chadli scores because #narrative.
Bryan Ashlock: Can I just pass on being forced to watch this match? 1-0 Spurs.
Ed F: Passer Badly. 3-0 Spurs.
Luke Zimmerman: To paraphrase the warrior poet, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ... You're not going to fool me anymore.". 0-0
Brian Mechanick: The West Brom defense is strong and may be tough for Spurs to crack on the road at The Hawthorns. Give me a tight 1-0 win, with Son getting the goal and continuing his hot form.
Earl of Shoop: I'm not too worried about Nacer Chadli, but I am irrationally worried about James Morrison. He hasn't gotten many minutes this season, but he's the perfect example of a middling player who seems to pop up now and then with a crappy goal against us. Well, him and Theo Walcott. Unfortunately for James, his substitute appearance fluke goal won't be enough this time. Spurs cruise to the away win, 3-1.