Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion preview

Tottenham were a bit unfortunate to lose away against Newcastle on the opening day of the season. Spurs dominated for the most part and created plenty of chances, but ultimately fell to a quality piece of finishing by Demba Ba, and the trickery and invention of Hatem Ben Arfa.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has been busy in the transfer market since then, shipping out Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone and finally completing the transfer of Emmanuel Adebayor from Manchester City. The new boss elected to go with Sandro and Jake Livermore at the base of midfield at the Sporting Direct Arena. With Adebayor now in the team, it might be a good idea to restore Rafael Van der Vaart to the team as has a good understanding with the Togolese forward.

At White Hart Lane, Spurs are always expected to attack, so expect Bale and Lennon to play on either wing alongside Adebayor and VDV in the hole. It might prove tricky to stick with Gylfi Sigurdsson, unless AVB is confident that West Brom won't be an attacking threat, in which case just playing either Livermore or Sandro in a deeper role should suffice. Jan Vertonghen should make his debut as Younes Kaboul is injured.

West Bromwich Albion handed Steve Clarke the perfect managerial debut with a 3-0 victory that was impressive and controversial in equal measure. Albion weathered a Liverpool storm for the first half before delivering the ultimate sucker punch with a high quality goal by Zoltan Gera. Then on the back of some generous officiating, they ruthlessly picked off Liverpool on the counter.

Claudio Yacob had a decent outing, but once again the main midfield man for the Baggies is going to be powerhouse Youssuf Mulumbu. Mulumbu's dynamism is key in the Baggies midfield, and is the platform which allows James Morrison and Gera to express their creativity. Further up, Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long will score goals against all opposition throughout the season.

Andre Villas-Boas will encourage Tottenham to play the same way they did against Newcastle with some added ruthlessness in front of goal. While West Brom have already beaten one fancied opponent, doing it a second week in a row at White Hart Lane, will be a task beyond them against a Spurs side that will create many chances. It's the efficiency of Tottenham's forwards that will end up deciding the margin of victory in this potentially open match.