West Bromwich Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: The Hawthorns
Referee: Andy Madley
TV: Sky Sports Box Office
Third-from-bottom face third-from-top in Sunday’s lunchtime fixture, as third-placed Tottenham travel to the midlands to take on West Brom, who sit inside the relegation zone.
It’s thanks to fellow promotion-winners Fulham that West Brom have slipped into the relegation zone, after the Cottagers grabbed their first win of the season at the expense of Albion. The west-Midlanders still await their first win back in the Premier League, only picking up their three points from draws. Slaven Bilic has struggled to get his team to create clear-cut chances, which was epitomised by last weekend’s statistics showing one shot on target for the Baggies.
West Brom’s work rate has been criticised by the manager himself, which is very alarming this early on in the season, although it does mean that the squad has plenty of time to turn their fortunes around in light of Bilic’s forthright observations. You could hazard the question that the lack of cutting edge in the team is down to this absence of attacking energy in the team.
It doesn’t bode well for the Baggies that they have conceded more goals than anyone else in the league, since their next opponents Tottenham Hotspur are the top scorers. If West Brom are to have a chance against the likes of Son and Kane, you would imagine emphasis would have to be put on the defence, rather than the attack. The players and manager may want to have a look at the valiant work put in by Royal Antwerp in the Europa League against Spurs, who seemed to do a better job than any of keeping Tottenham at bay.
Tottenham’s last fixture was significant for a number of reasons. Their 2-1 victory over Brighton has bumped Spurs up to third place, and thus a third league win on the bounce would put them top of the league prior to Liverpool and Leicester’s tricky games to Man City and Wolves respectively. On top of this, Gareth Bale was able to head in his first goal since his return to North London. The passion shown in the Welshman’s celebration will give Spurs fans hope for a few more during the Christmas period.
So is it worth talking about the chances of a title win this year? Tottenham have a plethora of new signings playing well, and enough depth in the squad to reasonably rule out an injury catastrophe like last season. West Brom probably represent Spurs’ last easy opportunity to get three points before they face a run of very taxing fixtures heading into the festive period. Spurs are favourites to win the Europa League, third favourites to win the Premier League and second favourites to win the Carabao Cup. In reality, it would be a failure if Spurs don’t pick up some silverware this year.
Looking short-term though, it’s becoming a common occurrence that Tottenham often squander the chance to make a statement in a competition, and Spurs absolutely love a 1-1 draw against the Baggies – six of these scorelines in the last decade, and four in the last six games. Mourinho’s men could really do with maintaining some winning momentum going into their nightmare Christmas period, as these looming fixtures could end up defining their season.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom have been able to maintain a relatively injury-free squad ahead of Sunday’s game.
It is fairly quiet on the injury front for Jose Mourinho, at least by Spurs’ standards anyway. Erik Lamela is the most notable addition to the injury list, with the Argentinian deciding to stop playing until after the international break
to prevent aggravating existing concerns.
Full-backs Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilón missed the Europa League tie on Thursday, but look likely to return to Premier League action on Sunday. Meanwhile, Japhet Tanganga is regaining match fitness and is back in training
Predicted Starting XIs
West Brom (4-3-3): Johnstone; Townsend, Ajayi, Ivanovic, Furlong; Gallagher, Livermore, Krovinovic; Diangana, Grant, Pereira
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Reguilón, Dier, Alderweireld, Doherty; Hojbjerg, Sissoko; Son, Ndombele, Lucas; Kane
Score prediction: West Brom 0 Tottenham 3
Going by each team’s results this season, Spurs should have no problem getting past West Brom’s Sam Johnstone in goal, and West Brom’s lack of cutting edge could allow Mourinho to pick up a second clean sheet of the league season.