A week where Spurs lose to Arsenal is always a terrible one, yet the comeback victory at the Westfalenstadion against Borussia Dortmund to secure top place in a group with them and Real Madrid is a reason to celebrate. Clinching first place in the “group of death” of the 2017-18 Champions League with one match still to play is really an incredible achievement and hides the absolutely dreadful ninety minutes Spurs put forth at the Emirates last week.
The loss to the Gunners was not only awful in principle, but also to our standing in the Premier League table. Every one of our top six rivals won and our place in the table suffered. For the first time in over a month we are out of the top three, with twenty-three points, and sole possession of fourth place. We are just one point ahead of both Arsenal and Liverpool, two points behind third-placed Chelsea, three points behind second-placed Manchester United, and a whooping eleven points adrift of Manchester City. We are just about a third of the way through the season, but City already has a commanding lead over Tottenham Hotspur and the Premier League in general thus far.
With the ousting of Tony Pulis on Monday, West Brom look to Gary Megson to take on a caretaker role with the club until they find a permanent replacement. Its no secret the type of football Pulis plays, yet the redeeming characteristic he possessed as a manager was that he could churn out results and punch above his weight, at least for a little while, with lower Premier League clubs. With only two wins in their last twenty-one league appearances, and the seventeenth spot in this years table, it was time for Pulis to move on. If its any consolation Megson is on record calling Tottenham Hotspur “world-class”, so outside of tomorrow’s match, good luck to you Gary!
The Baggies goal total and clean sheets secured sit alongside their seventeenth place position in the table and this is pretty poor. Jay Rodriguez, who has managed to stay healthy this season, leads the team in overall goals (3) and Premier League goals (2). This is not a good statistic if you are an Albion supporter. The Baggies have been lining up in a 3-5-2 and Rodriguez is usually partnered with Salomon Rondon up top, which isn’t as bad of a pairing as their cumulative goal total would suggest. Former Spurs winger Nacer Chadli is out, but academy product Jake Livermore has been a staple in the center of the Baggies midfield and has been a bright spot for their side. Grzegorz Krychowiak, the Polish international, and former Sevilla man is on loan from PSG and while he hasn’t lit the world on fire, is a formidable footballer on his day. Matt Phillips has been out of form his season, and has lost his place in the team for portions of the season, but if he is on the pitch, he is probably West Brom’s most direct threat.
With Johnny Evans captaining the side, along with Kieran Gibbs, Gareth McAuley, and Ben Foster in defense, the Baggies are in no shortage of Premier League experience. And while this side hasn’t collected that many clean sheets, they are certainly stronger on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side. For example, Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry feature often in midfield and nobody is calling either of those players mercurial threats.
West Brom will be unpredictable in how they respond to interim manager Megson and Pulis’ sacking, but has the personnel to bunker down and make it difficult for Tottenham. Spurs need to bounce back from the terrible defeat at the Emirates and put three points on the board on Saturday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, UK
Official: Mike Jones
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio (UK), TSN5, 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
Toby and Victor remain out with their hamstring and knee respectively. Other than that, we have a clean bill of health. I think Spurs will trot out in 4-2-3-1 for this match. With a short break between the West Brom game and Leicester on Tuesday, I think Spurs rotate where they can.
In this sense I think Davies and Trippier cycle in for Aurier and Rose at the outside back spots, while Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen man the center-back spots. Eric Dier will pair with Mousa Dembélé in the middle, with Moussa Sissoko resting Son and joining Eriksen and Dele in the attacking band, with Harry Kane up top.
Only Menno and Jake Meador didn’t predict a Spurs win and nobody from the Masthead picked an Arsenal victory. There is at least a smidgen of glory in that. All remains the same in the Prediction League table.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings
|Earl of Shoop||8|
Dustin Menno: No Pulis, no party. Spurs 4-1 West Brom (Chadli with the consolation flipper-kick goal). Writers Note: This still occurs even if le dauphin doesn’t make the match-day eighteen
Matthew Pachniuk: Spurs bounce back and breakdown a bunkered down West Brom. Spurs 2-0.
Jake Meador: WBA is bad. We are not. Spurs 2-0.
GN Punk: No Pulis ball means who the hell knows what to expect from WBA, other than them being terrible. 2-0 Spurs.
Skipjack: West Brom sounds disturbing like the kind of thing virgins farm in the basement. I don't trust them. Spurs 3-0.
Earl of Shoop: TBD
Bryan A: TBD
Salmon Chase: This is a cup game right? These guys are still around? These ants, these peons, these piss swillers? But yea let's try to not, in the immortal words of my father dropping me off at college "don't fuck this up". 4-0 Spurs.
Ed F: West Brom are crap, will somehow be even crappier without Pulis' direction and structure. 3-0 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: West Brom are probably going to be no good in their first match since firing Tony Pulis. Spurs probably won't be. Tottenham 3-0.
Joe Patrick: TBD
Alex Greenberg: TBD
Nathan Giannini: Is this a bounce-back game or was Dortmund the bounce-back game? Either way, Spurs bounce back (or continue bouncing forward?) with a 3-1 win.
Joel Wertheimer: This one is going to be annoying. 2-1 Spurs.