Well, that blew. Tottenham Hotspur derped away a chance to clinch the Champions League next season (with a little help) and instead fell 1-0 to bottom-of-the-table West Brom. Tottenham academy graduate Jake Livermore got the narrative-laden goal against his old club because lol of course he did.
It was another anemic performance — although Spurs dominated possession throughout the game they weren’t able to convert that dominance into scoring opportunities, mustering only five shots on target. After the match, Mauricio Pochettino talked about how he thought Spurs played well, but need to show more here in the waning days of the season in order to assure Champions League football next year.
“I think everyone can see [what happened]. We fully dominated the game, but if you are not clinical in front of goal and don’t score the chances you have, always it’s open and this type of game, against this type of team like West Bromwich they worked so hard in set pieces and when the game is open you can concede.
“Today we dominated but if we analyze the game we deserved much more. But in football it’s not only about to deserve, it’s to be aggressive in defending and aggressive with the right attitude when you go forward with the ball. It’s another way to score from the beginning.
“I think the team, we missed a little bit to be more aggressive with the ball. It was difficult to play, they played so deep. We didn’t create enough chances. Maybe we created more than them but we are a team that need to create more chance to have the capacity to score.”
This was super frustrating, especially because it didn’t seem as though West Brom could afford to sit back and play bunker-ball the way they usually do — they were relegated if they dropped any points at all, so a draw wouldn’t have done them any good. And there were moments where they were wide open, but Spurs’ attackers couldn’t put together many good shots (I’m looking at you, Erik Lamela).
As it stands now, Spurs’ “magic number” holds steady at four with two matches left, but that number could reduce if Liverpool can get a result against Chelsea. This was a golden opportunity to leap ahead of Liverpool in the table, but as it stands now I suspect most Spurs fans would be more than happy to just get fourth and end the season as quickly as possible.
Pochettino also gave an update on the ankle of Jan Vertonghen, who limped off the pitch late in the second half — Spurs’ gaffer said that Vertonghen twisted his ankle and that he would be evaluated on Monday. That certainly seems to put his status for Spurs’ remaining two games in doubt. Thankfully, Toby Alderweireld was finally deemed ready to start today, and if Jan can’t go expect a back line of Toby and Davinson Sanchez against Newcastle.