Tottenham Hotspur went into today’s match against manager-less West Bromwich Albion hoping that they could earn three points at home to keep pace with the rest of the top-four hopefuls. It was not to be. Spurs derped away a goal to Salomon Rondon in the fourth minute, then got a second half goal from Harry Kane to earn a frustrating 1-1 home draw at Wembley Stadium, a result that will certainly make Spurs fans start asking questions of their team once again.
Spurs knew they were going up against a team used to playing defensively and bunkering against better teams, so they set out with a similar lineup to what they rolled out against Dortmund in the Champions League. Son Heung-Min started the match behind Harry Kane with a three-man midfield of Dele Alli, Harry Winks, and Christian Eriksen. Mauricio Pochettino opted to rotate the fullbacks again, with Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier getting the nod. Danny Rose was not in the match day 18.
The match started disastrously for Spurs just four minutes in. Dele Alli got his pocket picked by England International Jake Livermore™, who found a streaking Salomon Rondon. Rondon somehow managed to evade a challenge from Davinson Sanchez and poked a slow ball to the far corner. Hugo Lloris remained rooted at the near post, and the ball bounced off the upright and in. The Baggies improbably led 1-0.
West Brom being West Brom, they responded by immediately dropping back and putting men behind the ball, and time-wasting with every stopped play. Gary Megson may have been on the touchline, but the tactics at Wembley were downright Pulis-esque. Spurs had the bulk of the possession but now faced a bunkered defense.
Spurs responded in turn by switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation, pushing Eric Dier back into midfield to help shore up the defense, and pushing Alli higher up. That resulted in Harry Kane nearly pulling a goal back for Spurs, but his low shot in the 27th minute went just wide of the post. Son Heung-Min also went close, and Eric Dier had a header off of a corner kick that was destined for the top corner, but was saved by Ben Foster.
Spurs’ best chance came just before halftime when Son fizzed a ball across the face of goal, but Kane couldn’t get a boot to the ball and the chance went begging.
The first half ended a distressingly ugly 1-0 to the visitors.
Spurs came out with no changes to the side, but faced a daunting challenge to pick the lock on West Brom’s defense. Kane had the first look just two minutes into the half, but his shot from just outside the box was weak and was easily collected by Foster.
Midway through the half, Matty Phillips nearly put Albion up two on a counter-attack, but his shot trickled just wide of the far post. Spurs felt throughout the match that they were not getting calls from official Jones, and Eric Dier was eventually shown a yellow card for arguing too vociferously.
With Spurs still chasing the lead, Mauricio Pochettino rolled the dice in the 60th minute and opted for a double-substitution, bringing on Fernando Llorente and Mousa Dembele for Jan Vertonghen and Harry Winks. Dier moved back to partner Sanchez in central defense, while Llorente moved to the tip of the spear with Kane floating just behind him. Albion also eventually made a double-sub, bringing on James McClean and Hal Robson-Kanu for Sam Field and Jay “Jay Rodriguez Role” Rodriguez.
Eventually things started to pick up for Spurs. Trippier put another ball across the face of goal, but Dele again couldn’t get a toe to the ball with the goal gaping.
In the 74th minute, Kane finally got the equalizer. Alli, who was drifting to the right of the box, poked a ball to Kane, who one-touched it past Foster with his left foot and into the back of the net.
Spurs immediately started pushing forward and hammered the West Brom box to find the equalizer, but despite a number of half-chances (and a few dubious no-calls for penalties and hand-balls in the box) they weren’t able to get the winner. Meanwhile, West Brom had a couple of late chances, with Hugo making one save and another dribbling wide.
The final score was a disappointing 1-1.
- This match was really, really stupid, Spurs were basically trash today, and I want those two weekend hours of my life back.
- West Brom’s early goal was clown-shoes defending. Bad from Dele, bad from Sanchez, bad from Hugo. Bad, bad, bad. And incredibly stupid.
- West Brom’s time-wasting, especially by keeper Ben Foster, was so irritating, and it’s incredible that match official Mike Jones didn’t book him for it until midway through the second half. AND HE KEPT DOING IT.
- I can’t help but think that Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen playing 180 minutes last week might have contributed to the fact that both of them looked exhausted and off their game (Kane goal notwithstanding).
- For the second straight league game, Ben Davies was pretty poor. Danny Rose might have been tired after Dortmund, but he would’ve been the better choice to play against this West Brom side.
- Sonny, however, had a pretty great match, and Kane aside, he was probably the most dangerous Tottenham attacker over the course of the whole match. The problem was he was the only one getting into dangerous positions a lot of the time.
- Extremely reluctant credit to West Brom, who Pulised their way to an important point, even without the Ball-capped One. They threw their bodies in front of every ball and had so many blocks on crosses and shots.
- This was very much two points dropped and a cautionary tale of falling asleep for one moment early in the match.
- Spurs could potentially drop out of the top four, pending the rest of the weekend’s matches. They are now five behind United and a point behind Chelsea, who have a game in hand.