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Tottenham Hotspur vs West Bromwich Albion: Opposition Analysis

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Spurs' title push continues apace on Monday night, with the rather distasteful visit of football's worst enemy to White Hart Lane.

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The Season So Far

You know exactly what you’re getting with Tony Pulis: defensive solidity, solid home form, bad away form, very little in the way of raw attacking output and almost nothing that sends you out of the stadium with a smile on your face. If anything, you’ll leave the stadium with a crook in your neck, having spent 90 minutes watching the ball fly through the air fifty feet off the ground. While this seems – and very much is – an absolutely miserable way to play and to watch football, the seemingly incontrovertible fact is that doing things this way will guarantee Premier League survival.

Having danced with death under the overpromoted Alan Irvine in 2014-15, Baggies owner Jeremy Peace was in no mood to risk things any further, especially with the new television deal promising Premier League more money than is humanly imaginable from 2016-17 onwards. As such, Pulisball has been a means to an end: they’ve sacrificed fun for one year to make sure they stay in the division and get their hands on that money.

The fans are pretty fed up of watching such boring football and there are strong and well-sourced rumours that Pulis’ relationship with Peace is less than amicable, with the chairman apparently suspecting ulterior motives on the manager’s part when it comes to transfer dealings (let’s say no more than that), so it wouldn’t be that surprising if Pulis were to exit stage left when 2015-16 comes to a close.

The Final Few Games

As ever for players at clubs who are comfortably safe at this stage of the season, there’s little to play for besides pride and perhaps a new contract/summer move. After the Spurs game the Baggies have winnable games against West Ham and Bournemouth and the chance to bloody the noses of a resurgent Liverpool side.

Tactics

The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides And a dark wind blows

The government is corrupt And we're on so many drugs With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down And the billboards are all leering And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

It went like this:

The buildings tumbled in on themselves Mothers clutching babies Picked through the rubble And pulled out their hair

The skyline was beautiful on fire All twisted metal stretching upwards Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I said, "Kiss me, you're beautiful. These are truly the last days." You grabbed my hand And we fell into it Like a daydream Or a fever

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down For sure it's the valley of death

I open up my wallet And it's full of blood

Strengths

I feel morally obliged to reject the notion that any Tony Pulis side has ever had any strengths.

Weaknesses

Football

Being interesting

Bringing joy to the world

Sorry. Let’s do this properly.

Like all Pulis sides, they don’t score goals very often primarily because they don’t shoot very often. No team has taken fewer shots than West Brom in the Premier League this season and no team has hit the target less. Pulis’s side have registered a mere 89 shots on target in this season’s 34 games, somehow resulting in a return of 31 goals. Record signing Salomón Rondón has spoken of his frustration regarding the criticism that came his way earlier in the season, quite correctly pointing out that he can’t score many goals if the team's tactics only put him in a position to take a decent shot once every other game.

Frankly, West Brom are a crap team and Spurs have been excellent at pinning crap teams back and playing through them this season. There’s little reason to think the same won’t happen again here.

Likely XI

Rondón sat out the previous game against Arsenal so should return here, while James McClean and Craig Gardner could be in line for recalls. Really though, it doesn't matter: Spurs will have all of the ball and all of the chances, and the identities of those in the other shirts is made almost irrelevant by the horror of their coach's ideas.

SPUWBA

Prediction

The only thing that can realistically stop Spurs winning this game is bad luck. Less realistically, West Brom are relying on a sudden outbreak of the bubonic plague or a catastrophically destructive alien invasion of North London.