(Admit it you read it in Dumbledore’s tone!)
Tottenham would be looking forward to take advantage of the miserable weekend for the Manchester clubs. Harry Redknapp was still reluctant to shuffle the squad, despite the heavy legs shown by Modric and Bale at Swansea. The injured Scott Parker would be replaced by Jermain Defoe. Van der Vaart would play on the right flank again in this 4-4-2 formation.
West Brom made three changes to the side that suffered from Anichebe’s late winner on Sunday. Chris Brunt and Shane Long would not feature, while James Morrison was dropped to the bench. 18 years old George Thorne was handed his Premier League debut.
Play of the Game
Tottenham: In 62th min, Defoe broke the deadlock with a brilliant effort. Van der Vaart again found space in the box and squared it to Bale. His cross targeted Defoe, whose first touch left the ball in the air, but he cleverly backed off his defender, and fired a low shot which is beyond the reach of Ben Foster.
West Brom: Bale and Adebayor exchanged passes near the box. Bale laid a delicate pass to Adebayor how looked to be free with only Foster to beat, but Billy Jones made a last ditch sliding tackle to disrupt the pass and denied Tottenham’s nice flow.
- Sandro was not at his best in the early first half, being robbed twice in his own half. Modric and Bale are far from their best. The Tottenham midfielders didn’t have the sharpness to break through the organised West Brom defense.
- In the 25 min, Kaboul marched up and released Bale on the left. The Welshman’s cross was met by Van der Vaart, but his first time left foot shot was just parried over the bar by Ben Foster. This was the best chance for Tottenham in the first half.
- Miscommunication between Livermore and Kaboul caused a headbutt that forced both off the court. West Brom strived to take advantage of the extra manpower and piled on the pressure, but it was Van der Vaart who became the saviour, who made an excellent tackle to deny Odemwingie on the left flank and drew a foul. The whistle allowed Spurs to restore to 11 men.
- Sandro limped off with a hamstring injury in the 28th min; Gallas and Livermore were both taken off. The injury problem has started to haunt Harry Redknapp, particularly at the holding midfielder position. They will be hoping for quick recovery of Parker.
- Having already scored four times in his last five starts, Defoe seemed to have run out of ideas to impress Harry Redknapp. Will he be spotted with his new hairstyle?
- Tottenham fans were surely slowed down by the congested fixtures. The usually ever-going chanting in White Hart Lane was missing in the first half. No wonder Tottenham was outdueled by their opponents.
- Harry Redknapp had surely not been prompted for emergent substitutions for long. With 9 men on the court temporarily, Harry struggled to restore the manpower, when West Brom strived to put some pressure on the short defensive line.
It was not their “A” game, but 3 point is all they need. Defoe and Kaboul were the stars of the match. Walker was less energetic, but stayed solid at the back. Questions arise again about Harry Redknapp’s squad selection. Adebayor and Modric suffered from tired legs and three more players went down for injury. Livermore, Bassong, Defoe, and even Kranjcar, not at his preferred position, showed they are all in good shapes. It is crucial for Tottenham to maintain a healthy squad for their tough fixtures coming up in late January.
They have put up a very respectable performance. Roy Hodgson had his players sticking to his gameplan and had kept Tottenham off-balance for the whole match. West Brom had every chance to claw a point back when Livermore was off with a mouth injury, but Hodgson would be worried about the lack of creativity in their midfield. Scharner was particularly destructive, committing a lot of meaningless fouls.
Best Performer of the Game
Rafael Van der Vaart. He never enjoys playing as a right wing, but he showed the energy and creativity that the entire Tottenham midfield had been missing the whole night. It was not once or twice he found the gap in West Brom’s box. His aggression had contributed in the build-up of the winning goal. He also covered a lot of ground, helping to fill up the voids left temporarily by the injuries of Kaboul and Livermore.
Who could do better?
Harry Redknapp. Rather than spotting the lazy legs of Adebayor and careless pass of Modric, Harry Redknapp should be the one to blame for the lack of sharpness of his first-team players. The most significant one was Kyle Walker, who seldom showed the explosiveness at right wing last night. With successive home games coming up, Harry must utilise the squad depth that their North London rival envies so much to prevent them running out of gas soon.