The FourFourTwo Preview: Tottenham vs West Brom
Tim Sherwood’s first game as proper Tottenham boss.
A quarter of the top flight’s managers who started the season have left – and this tussle was set to be between two sides who hadn't bothered to replace theirs until it was revealed on Monday that caretaker boss Tim Sherwood was to be handed the reins until the end of next season. That's NEXT season.
- So'ton 2-3 Tottenham (Prem)
- Tottenham 1-2 West Ham (LC)
- Tottenham 0-5 Liverpool (Prem)
- Tottenham 4-1 Anzhi (EL)
- S'land 1-2 Tottenham (Prem)
WEST BROM FORM
- WBA 1-1 Hull (Prem)
- Cardiff 1-0 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 0-2 Norwich (Prem)
- WBA 2-3 Man City (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 WBA (Prem)
The stand-in Spurs boss had picked up a vital 3-2 win at Southampton; his gung-ho goal-getting pleasing fans disgruntled with the team’s previous lack of them.
After saying he only wanted the job on a long-term basis, that's exactly what he's got; chairman Daniel Levy telling the club's official website:
"We were extremely reluctant to make a change mid-season, but felt we had to do so in the club's best interests.
"We have a great squad and we owe them a head coach who will bring out the best in them and allow them to flourish and enjoy a strong, exciting finish to the season. We are in the fortunate position of having within our club a talented coach in Tim Sherwood. We believe Tim has both the knowledge and the drive to take the squad forward."
The north Londoners might have the top flight’s best away record, but at home it’s a different story – they’ve picked up the same number of points as Cardiff, and only one more than Crystal Palace. It’s time for an upturn in fortunes at White Hart Lane after three without a win.
Sherwood is unlikely to tweak his winning side from the weekend, giving the home faithful another chance to catch a glimpse of their new-look marauders.
You wouldn’t know it, but under-the-radar West Brom are in the hunt for a new boss too.
The Baggies played their first game under caretaker boss Keith Downing (who doesn’t want the job) in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Hull, after the utterly underwhelming sacking of Steve Clarke a week-and-a-half ago. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer heads the bookies’ list to replace him after reported talks with Hawthorns bigwigs.
Whoever takes the wheel will be tasked with avoiding a relegation car crash. West Brom are winless in seven; their weekend draw halting a run of four straight defeats. With just four goals from five games, things are looking bleak for the Baggies. They might be about to get worse.
Here's a fun fact, though: these two sides have scored and conceded the same number of goals this season. Tottenham just have 14 points more. Sort your efficiency out, Baggies.
Spurs have wingers Aaron Lennon (abdominal) and Andros Townsend (hamstring) sidelined, alongside defensive pair Jan Vertonghen (ankle) and Younes Kaboul (thigh, apparently – but it really could be anything). Paulinho is still suspended for being daft against Liverpool, while Sandro (calf) is touch and go. Mousa Dembele should be fit despite hobbling off with an ankle knock at St Mary’s.
Somewhere at West Brom’s training ground, though, you’ll find the Baggies’ physio with his feet up. Injuries are one problem the West Midlands side don’t have right now. Seriously, not even a scratch.
Key battle: Adebayor vs McAuley
Ade’s back, peeps – and now AVB’s gone you’d better get used to it. Tottenham fans sure could if the Togo man keeps finding the net, as he did twice against Southampton at St Mary’s. The enigmatic front-man was excellent running wide for Spurs on the south coast, despite the visitors’ opener coming from a Roberto Soldado cross for the former to finish with aplomb.
Adebayor was used as Tottenham’s main outlet in attack. Thanks to the 45 passes he received – 20 more than his strike partner – he was also able to fashion two chances for team-mates.
The 29-year-old was sent up for 11 of his 12 aerial duels in the first half (he won 5 of them), 8 of which came in Southampton’s half. Spurs weren’t afraid to use his aerial advantages, but against Baggies stopper Gareth McAuley he’ll have his work cut out – the dominant former Leicester man won 5 of his 6 duels against Hull.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- WBA 0-1 Spurs (Prem, Feb 13)
- Spurs 1-1 WBA (Prem, Aug 12)
- Spurs 1-0 WBA (Prem, Jan 12)
- WBA 1-3 Spurs (Prem, Nov 11)
- Spurs 2-2 WBA (Prem, Apr 11)
“I don't want the job for 10 minutes, I want it long-term,” he confirmed. “It's a great honour to manage this football club with its honour and tradition, but it has to be right for me.”
That’s Tim Sherwood, with no senior managerial experience and without the necessary UEFA Pro licence, ladies and gentlemen.
Over at The Hawthorns, poor West Brom stand-in Downing doesn’t even want the job: “I have been told to just carry on game-by-game,” he explained. “I’m planning as normal until I get told anything else.”
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Spurs won last fixture but have a poor home record this season, winning just 3 of their 8 league fixtures and just 1 in their last 6.
- However, they have a good record against the Baggies, winning 4 and drawing 3 in their last 7 encounters.
- Tottenham have opened the scoring in 7 of their previous 10 home matches.
- West Brom have won just 1 of their last 10 Premier League away fixtures (W1 D4 L5).
- They have lost the first half in 9 of their previous 12 away matches against top-half clubs.
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Spurs to win it 3-1, Soldado to score and Sherwood’s head to explode in the post-match press conference.