Both of these sides entered the Christmas football calendar without a manager after axing Andre Villas-Boas and Steve Clarke without having replacements lined up. Tim Sherwood and Keith Downing were the men who were given the opportunity to lead their respective sides on a temporary basis. The former has now been appointed on a full time basis at Tottenham until the end of next season, while Downing isn’t expected to be given the West Brom post on a permanent basis. The favourite for the West Brom job at the moment is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Both sides picked up points in their first league match after sacking their managers, Spurs beat Southampton while West Brom drew with Hull City.
Spurs will be hoping that the managerial change will lead to a resurgence in form so they can qualify for the Champions League. They are in touching distance of the top four and a few wins would put them right in the mix. The new manager needs to have consistency in his team selections while creating a tactic that can be successful. Sherwood’s use of two strikers against Southampton looked like it could potentially bring success, with Emmanuel Adebayor scoring two goals, but the former Arsenal and Manchester City striker is extremely unpredictable. He can’t be relied upon over a long period games.
West Brom are in a very precarious situation as they lie just three points above the relegation zone in 16th. They will be disappointed with their campaign up to now, as they should really be secure in mid table, not near the bottom of the league. This is the reason why Steve Clarke lost his job, the Baggies were just too close to the relegation zone for comfort. The board have a big decision to make when it comes to the appointment of their next manager as the wrong man could take them back into the Championship. A return to second tier football would be a disaster for West Brom as they have established themselves as a Premier League club after years of being known as a yo-yo club.
Last season, this fixture ended in a 1-1 draw with Benoit Assou-Ekotto scoring for the home side, while James Morrison netted a last equaliser for the Baggies. The corresponding fixture resulted in a 1-0 Tottenham victory. Gareth Bale scored the winner for Spurs at the Hawthorns. The home side finished the match with ten men after Goran Popov was sent off for spitting at Kyle Walker.
Tottenham have won the most away games in the Premier League this season with six. Their problems have been at home where they have only won three times. This will encourage West Brom that they can get something on Boxing Day.
West Brom have had the joint most amount of draws (with Everton) in the league with 7. They need to start turning some of these draws into wins to ensure they aren’t in the relegation battle in the final third of the season.
Adebayor started his first match against Southampton on Sunday and managed to score two goals to give his side the three points. He was ignored by Villas-Boas this season, only featuring from the bench once under the former manager, but Sherwood seems to trust him as his main striker. His all around game was impressive on Sunday, as he created opportunities and was a handful throughout the whole match. He has only had 4 shots on goal this season, with two of them ending in goals. Both his shooting accuracy (100%) and chance conversion will go down as he plays more games for Spurs. There is no doubt that Adebayor is an enigma who can blow both hot and cold, but under a manager who trusts him, he could really flourish, as he did under Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp. Sherwood understands that, so if he does get the job full time, I’d expect Adebayor to become a frequent scorer, like he was in his first season at White Hart Lane.
Stephane Sessegnon has been inconsistent for West Brom since joining in the summer, but he can cause problems for any defence on his day. His creativity stats are quite impressive as he has created 19 chances, which is a chance created every 53 minutes. From these, he has one assist. The Benin International will be hoping he can add a few more assists in the second half of the season. He also has the ability to score goals, having scored twice for the Baggies this season. Incredibly, he has missed 7 of the 8 clear cut chances that have been created for him. This will be disappointing for a midfielder who is capable of getting between 5 and 8 goals a season. He scores plenty of spectacular goals, but he needs to improve in the opposition penalty box if he is to become the star of the West Brom midfield. He will cause Spurs plenty of problems, especially if Sherwood chooses to play without a holding midfielder again as Adam Lallana showed there was space between the lines to do plenty of damage. These will be the areas that the former Sunderland midfielder is most dangerous.
Mousa Dembele is expected to be fit for the match, despite coming off against Southampton with an ankle injury. Aaron Lennon will miss the match with an abdominal injury. Andros Townsend and Sandro are both doubts after missing Sunday’s match with injury. Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen won’t be back until the new year. Paulinho also misses out as he is serving the third match of his suspension. Nabil Bentaleb could feature again after impressing on his Premier League debut at Southampton. Nacer Chadli is also pushing to reclaim a starting berth.
Victor Anichebe is the only injury doubt for West Brom. George Thorne remains on the long term injury list. Matej Vydra could start after scoring his first goal for the Baggies to equalise against Hull. Saido Berahino, Morgan Amalfitano and Nicolas Anelka will all be pushing for a recall to the starting eleven.
Spurs have moved to a more attacking game under Sherwood so they won’t be struggling for goals like they were previously as showed by them scoring three goals in a match for the first time this season. They do look vulnerable at the back though, if they don’t play a defensive midfielder again, they will definitely concede on Boxing Day. I think there will be plenty of goals in this fixture, unlike last season with Spurs coming out on top. A victory will give him a great start after securing the job on a full time basis. West Brom will slip closer to the relegation zone.