After sealing our place at Wembley in midweek, Spurs looked full of confidence as we comfortably beat a battling West Brom team at the Hawthorns.
I am usually one of Dembele’s biggest critics and was surprised to see the team sheet – Pochettino had picked him in the number 10 role. In the early moments he fully justified his inclusion, using his undoubted skill to impact the game in the final third (for once). In fact he assisted both first half goals, first being fouled for the free kick, then shrugging off a challenge and feeding the ball to Kane in the penalty box.
As early as the sixth minute, the Belgian was fouled shooting just outside the area, the perfect position for Eriksen. The Danish midfielder has been excellent from direct free kicks this season. He seems to have the ability to place the ball exactly where he wants it. The goal gave Spurs the initiative.
The second didn’t take long to come, Harry Kane getting on the score sheet yet again. The young striker’s an expert at making a move to create some space then shooting early, before the keeper can set himself. Soldado and Adebayor should watch and learn.
After the goals, West Brom inevitably came back into it as they were forced to throw men forward, though their opportunities came mainly on the counter attack and from set pieces. Dawson hit the bar with a header after one long free kick was swung into the box.
As so often, Hugo Lloris made a series of fantastic stops to keep the score at 2-0. It’s not just the great saves, it’s his consistency that is a remarkable.
The chances came from swift breaks, where we seem to have a weakness picking up runners, a mixture of a lack of pace and lack of concentration. Often players are drawn to the ball or just turn their back and miss an opponent’s run. Something for the manager to work on.
With West Brom having to push forward, Spurs third came from a counter attack. Eriksen won the ball in midfield with the opposition defence stretched. Walker raced forward to provide an option on the right. The Dane fed him the ball, Lescott’s arm blocked the resulting low cross and the referee pointed to the spot.
Kane grabbed the ball and confidently powered it into the bottom corner for his 20th goal of the season. Quite remarkable considering he was on the fringes of the team in August.
Again West Brom threatened, including a Berahino effort that was diverted by Lloris but still had to be cleared off the line by Rose – one occasion where one of our defenders was alert.
Paulinho deserves a quick mention after an energetic performance in the defensive midfield position. He touched the ball more than any other Spurs player, which is a surprising statistic given his lack of involvement in previous appearances. He also managed to get in a couple of shots, unfortunately they weren’t particularly good ones.
This was an impressive win – especially after the efforts in midweek. West Brom have some dangerous forwards and Pulis’ work ethic and organisation could easily have led to another frustrating performance. Pochettino has found a system that gets the best out of his attacking options and maybe even a way to get something out of Demebele and Paulinho.
Eriksen, Kane and Lloris were the architects of this victory but there was evidence of improvement in the whole team. Bring on Arsenal!
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What did you think of Spurs win at West Brom? Who impressed you? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.
Must continue with the good performance and good team work.
Absolutely, the team work was one of the best aspects of the performance.
Poch got his tactics right on for this game – overcrowd the midfield and frustrate the opponent with ball retention.
Surprised with Dembele! He’s like a new signing now that he remembers how to pass the ball forward and not sideways :P
As for Paulinho, you’re right to mention him. A lot of pundits and critics were complaining about how little he offered but i agree with you, he attacked the space quite efficiently and helped press quite well. Too bad he’s so conservative with his passing and tackling.
Also, Algeria lost tonight. So Bentaleb is back!
Good points. The tactics did work well and the early goal helped. West Brom couldn’t just sit back.
Every now and then Dembele puts in a performance that shows his potential but he has to do that consistently before I’ll be convinced.
Good win. Happy with the Spurs right now, for sure.
Selection dilemmas for the NLD… I have to admit I am a bit worried after seeing Arsenal rampage past an admittedly pathetic Villa. Can we cope with their nimble, pacy athleticism in attack?
Bentaleb, fitness and tiredness permitting, would be handy, I trust him over Paulinho to be more disciplined in that DM role. Mason always puts in a good shift and should accompany him, along with Dembele, who has been one of our better players in recent weeks and offers a good physical presence to help bully their midfield, boss possession and deny Arsenal’s frontmen clean ball (to borrow a rugby phrase).
I would like to see Chadli and Eriksen in behind Kane and would go with pacy fullbacks, the much improved Rose and Walker to provide the width.
Dier and Vertonghen in the CB slots, our fastest and most athletic options for those positions, allowing us to play a high line and compress the midfield.