Premier League 17/18 Week 37: West Bromwich Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
West Brom continue to battle against the odds as they face a Spurs side capable of moving up to third in the league
15:00 BST, Saturday 5th May, The Hawthorns (Birmingham, England)
West Brom again face the dreaded drop this weekend having received another stay of execution by beating Newcastle last Saturday. Needing to win each of their final games whilst hoping that all other results go fall in their favour, the chances of recovery are still hanging by the slimmest of threads for the Baggies. However, two wins and two draws from Darren Moore’s short tenure has renewed confidence in the West Brom dressing room and they will want to sign out from their final match at the Hawthorns this season in style.
Tottenham will prove a significant hurdle for them achieving this. Spurs are a team that can smell a 3rd place finish while 2nd is also a distinct possibility following Manchester United’s defeat at Brighton on Friday night. They are also a team still coming to terms with an FA Cup defeat which again leaves them with no silverware this season, a blow which affected their performance levels against Watford last Monday. With goals in each of their previous 23 league games, Tottenham will provide a huge test for the Baggies but only 1 clean sheet in their last 6 suggests the glimmer of hope shouldn’t be rubbed out just yet.
Last Time Out
Newcastle United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion (Premier League)
The Baggies renaissance continued with a gritty win in the North-East that took them to within 2 points of Stoke. It was another organised and committed performance by the West Brom defence which provided the backbone to this win. Ben Foster was again a commanding figure in the Baggies goalmouth, his early save from Dwight Gayle helping to calm the visitors’ nerves and proving as valuable as any other single contribution which helped towards the win.
Craig Dawson, Jake Livermore and Matt Phillips also continued their returns to form with imperious displays, something which Moore should take the credit for and something which has instilled a much stronger foundation to the Baggies game. While they were far from playing flowing football, West Brom were effective in what they did. Phillips goal came in the 29th minute but while Newcastle looked to strike back, they dominated possession but could not dominate a West Brom side that refused to lie down as they did only a few short weeks ago.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Watford (Premier League)
Spurs scrambled to a win as they slowly shook off the apathy created by a semifinal defeat in the FA Cup. Despite a disjointed performance, the home side took the lead through Delle Ali in the 16th minute after Christian Eriksen was n hand to make the most of a mistake by Watford’s keeper.
Hugo Lloris enjoyed much better fortunes at the opposite end of the field with a return to the form that has become expected of him. With several vital saves, both he and Jan Vertonghen were the main reason Spurs secured a win rather than dropping points that could have proved costly.
In attack, Harry Kane still looks below his best and although the England striker grabbed a goal within minutes of the restart, he didn’t always look comfortable after returning from his ankle injury. Like his team, Kane did enough to see victory achieved and they can now forget about this game and move onwards and, hopefully, upwards.
West Bromwich Albion Lineup
Gareth Barry (knee) and James Morrison (Achilles) remain sidelined again this week but Nacer Chadli has returned to full fitness ahead of this match. Having named the same starting eleven for each of his 4 games so far, Moore is fully expected to do so again for the visit of Tottenham.
Tottenham Hotspur Lineup
Harry Winks (ankle) and Danny Rose (calf) remain doubtful for Spurs, the former unlikely to play again this season. Meanwhile, Mousa Dembélé (ankle) could also miss out after limping away from the Watford game with half an hour remaining last Monday.
Key Battle: Ben Foster (West Brom) vs Harry Kane (Tottenham)
One thing that has returned to West Brom since Moore took over the reigns has been a return of defensive effectiveness. With 2 clean sheets out of 4, Ben Foster has been at the heart of this resurgence. The keeper has been guilty of some glaring mistakes earlier this season, however, the save he made against Dwight Gayle last weekend was a sign the keeper is returning to his best. This weekend will see him face a more gruelling challenge but he once more looks the confident keeper which the Baggies were familiar with last season.
There has been many worries about Kane being rushed back into the first team too soon, potentially slowing down the striker’s return to peak fitness. His goal against Watford was the 2nd consecutive game in a row which he’s scored and signals a sure return to form following his recent injury. With the Premier League’s golden boot still a distinct possibility given that he currently trails Mohamed Salah by 4 goals but scored 8 goals from his final 3 matches last season and has a record of 7 goals from his last 6 games against the Baggies.
Men of the moment
Following a short taxi ride in Barcelona and a run of 9 straight defeats for the club, West Brom’s season seemed destined to end in spectacular failure this time last month. A new light is shining in the Birmingham-based club now, though, and while it most surely is too little too late, it has restored pride and injected optimism into next season’s prospects.
The FA’s monthly awards have also recognised this upturn in fortunes. Darren Moore’s fairy-tale start to life as a manager has returned an unbeaten run of 4 games, producing as many points (8) as Alan Pardew’s team took over his last 18 matches. As a nominee for April’s manager of the month award, he’s also joined by Jake Livermore who stands nominated in the player category. Since his involvement in the Barcelona fiasco, Livermore now has an outside chance of making the England squad this summer in what has been a month with a truly remarkable turnaround for both player and club.
A busy summer
As the finishing touches are applied to new-old White Hart Lane, Pochettino must face up to a rebuilding process on the pitch too. Tottenham fans have been adamant that new wing-backs are a must this season, although, the potential of Kyle Walker-Peters remains an interesting prospect which will be one year closer to beginning his senior career in earnest.
With a new striker also being mooted to replace Fernando Llorente who has been incapable of breaking into the side and losing Toby Alderweireld seeming increasingly certain, it’s still the midfield which offers the most testing questions.
Having failed to bring consistency to the team this year, Mousa Dembélé was again well below his best against Watford. With Tottenham’s gameplan relying on a strong midfield presence, Dembélé’s loss of form could be the main problem that Pochettino needs to solve this summer.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
West Brom have definitely improved over the last month and will provide a tough fight against a Tottenham team not playing at full capacity. It is more likely to be an attritional game than an entertaining spectacle and while Moore’s side may have enough to prevent defeat, they could also be officially playing their final Premier League game at the Hawthorns this year.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Lee Smith)