There have been whispers in the past week that Spurs are title contenders. And while it’s still too early to really tell, unbeaten in 13 is a good sign indeed. Spurs will put this streak on the line Saturday when they visit West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
The Baggies play about as direct as it gets in the Premier League and their stats reflect that – West Brom have the lowest possession rate in the league (42.6%), the second lowest pass success rate (72%), and the highest number of long balls as a percentage of total passes (21.3%). It really is a Tony Pulis club, isn’t it?
The last time Spurs played a team so deeply committed to direct play, they drew Leicester 1-1 at the King Power stadium. In that match, Tottenham secured 57.9% possession and an 84% pass success rate. This match against West Brom will be much of the same: Spurs will dominate possession and the Baggies will play off the counter. The big difference between West Brom and Leicester, however, is that the Foxes have Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and Marc Albrighton to lead the break. West Brom do not.
At the back for the Baggies is goalkeeper, Boaz Myhill, who is joined by central defenders, Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans. Evans put in a very good performance at left back last weekend because of Chris Brunt’s injury but could be back in the center should Brunt return. At right back is Craig Dawson.
Pulis will be missing an important part of his midfield as Claudio Yacob is suspended through yellow card accumulation. Playing in the defensive midfield, Yacob leads West Brom in tackles per 90 and interceptions per 90, providing important cover for the back line. Craig Gardner may very well be the replacement unless Berahino in inserted up top, bumping James Morrison back in the midfield. The other central midfielder is the Baggies’ Capitan, Darren Fletcher.
West Brom’s wide men are James McClean and Stéphane Sessegnon. While they lead the side in crosses per 90 minutes, they have each only been able to generate about one chance per 90 minutes (by comparison, Erik Lamela generates 3.4 chances per 90).
The front two – either a two striker combination or one striker with a man playing underneath – will likely be Salomón Rondón and James Morrison. Both have three goals this season, as does Saido Berahino, though Rondón has attempted twice as many shots as the former Spurs target. Despite scoring 14 times last season, Berahino hasn’t started for West Brom since the October 31st match against Leicester.
Poch will be without Ryan Mason who injured his ankle against Chelsea. Chadli, Bentaleb, and Prtichard also remain injured for this one though Dele Alli is set to return after serving a suspension for card accumulation. After coming off the bench last weekend, Erik Lamela should be available to start again, giving Pochettino plenty of options in the attacking midfield.
Coming off a rare full week of rest, Spurs have a great opportunity to pick up three points in this one. The Spurs Projected Goal Difference is +.53 in favor of Spurs, projecting a road win for the Lilywhites.
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