Tottenham will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment in the North London derby with a win against managerless West Brom on Saturday. They are heading back to Wembley after back-to-back away matches and three points are needed to strengthen their position in the top four. At the time of writing, they are already 11 points behind leaders Manchester City and their title hopes are fading. Mauricio Pochettino will see a top-four finish and a trophy as a success this season and their performances in the Champions League will give the supporters hope that they can have a great campaign.
During the week, they came from behind to beat Borussia Dortmund and that has ensured them top place in their Champions League group that also included Real Madrid. They have developed a lot over the 12 months and are now a team to be reckoned with in Europe. A cost of their continental success has been a drop-off in the league, but they are still in line for a top-four finish. The upcoming fixtures look kind and they will be keen to secure themselves in those places. A win this weekend is required to get them back on track.
It was a surprise when West Brom sacked Tony Pulis earlier this week, but those that have been following the team closely will be less than shocked. The football has not been good since the Welshman arrived, but the results have dropped off since the beginning of the year. They have yet to announce a new manager and that makes them real outsiders for the match against Tottenham. Gary Megson will take temporary charge. He has managerial experience, but he hasn’t managed in the top-flight for a long time. He is unlikely to be the long-term answer and an appointment is expected in the coming weeks.
- Tottenham have the joint-third best defence in the Premier League, having conceded only nine times in 12 matches.
- West Brom haven’t won in the Premier League since August and they will be lacking in confidence when they step out at Wembley on Saturday.
The England international is set for a coming of age season as he establishes himself among the European elite. He has been respected in England for the last couple of seasons, but there were doubts about his ability to make the next step. An excellent performance against Borussia Dortmund in September has been followed up with a series of good displays. Across the Premier League and Champions League, he has scored 14 goals and contributed three assists. He will be keen to add to that tally over the coming weeks as Spurs have some very winnable fixtures. West Brom have been known to have a reliable defence in recent seasons, but they have already conceded 18 times this campaign. They lack confidence and they are unlikely to keep a clean sheet on Saturday. Tottenham have enough to score three or four goals and their star striker is likely to be on the score-sheet.
The West Brom defender will be key on Saturday as he is a player capable of moving to a bigger club and he will relish these occasions, despite the poor position of his team. During the summer, the centre-back was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while Arsenal were also rumoured to be interested. At the weekend against Chelsea, he completed three tackles, won two headers and completed 93% of his passes. It wasn’t a great defensive performance to be part of, but Evans showed some impressive parts to his game. Harry Kane is the obvious danger and the Northern Ireland defender is West Brom’s best hope of countering that. Even though Pulis has now left, the Baggies’ style won’t change overnight. Their best chance of scoring this weekend will be through set pieces and the 29-year-old is one of their biggest threats from them.
Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama are both injured for this weekend, but they are the only two injury problems that Tottenham have. Mousa Dembele is being eased back into first-team action and he is likely to get more minutes this weekend. After his winner against Dortmund, Son Heung-min could be in line for a start.
Nacer Chadli won’t be available to play a part against his former club. West Brom will also be missing James Morrison and Craig Dawson, who are long-term injury concerns.
This is likely to be a straight forward home victory. West Brom fans will be positive about the future now that Tony Pulis has gone, but it will take some time to move on from his tenure. A new manager hasn’t been appointed and it will be the Welshman’s coaching staff that will be taking charge of the weekend’s match. Tottenham may have lost the North London derby, but they remain one of the best teams in the country. Their result against Dortmund in the week has given them confidence once again and they should win on Saturday.