Albion’s fate could be sealed even before they kick off against Spurs this weekend, should Stoke City defeat Crystal Palace in the lunchtime kick-off, but whatever happens over the next ten days, Darren Moore has put a huge amount of pride back into the fans of West Bromwich Albion, along with that feeling of what might have been.
Whether that means he should get the top job permanently is a question for another day, for now we look forward to a home game against Tottenham Hotspur, one of the most attractive sides to watch in the Premier League this season.
The result at Newcastle may not have been as eye-catching as the win at Old Trafford, but the performance was far and away the best under Big Dave. Dawson and Hegazi were imperious at the back while the middle two of Brunt and Livermore seemed to have developed into a solid but potent partnership ably helped by the tireless Rodriguez who is always happy to make up the extra man in midfield. Indeed, the former Spurs midfielder’s performances in April have resulted in his nomination for the Premier League player of the month and, while he is probably unlikely to win, it shows how far he has come since some of the inept displays he put in under Pardew.
Matt Phillips’s goal was excellent and further reinforces what a confidence player he is, while Rondón was once again excellent as a target man without having that composure in front of goal. If we can hold on to him, however, I think he will score a bucket load in the Championship!
A fortnight ago, Albion recovered to take a point against another of this season’s great entertainers, Liverpool, which means that in the five games that the Baggies have played so far this season against the sides that will finish second, third and fourth, they have lost just once. Should they manage to beat Spurs, and the other results go Albion’s way over the weekend, attention will turn to the match between Swansea and Southampton on Tuesday evening – that will need to finish in a draw which will inevitably mean a nail-biting finish for Baggies fans!
Spurs returned to winning ways on Monday evening with a 2-0 defeat of Watford having not won in their three previous games, including a 1-1 draw at the home of the other Albion. They remain fairly secure in fourth place, five points ahead of Chelsea with three games left for both teams. After the trip to the Hawthorns, Tottenham finish with home games over Newcastle and Leicester, so while they do still need points to guarantee Champions League football next season, defeat to the Baggies wouldn’t necessarily be disastrous. Neither do they have to worry too much about nicking third place from Liverpool given that all four English clubs will qualify directly for the group stages next season.
Obviously, on their day, Tottenham should easily beat the Baggies, but then so should Manchester United and Liverpool, and the north Londoners have won just once in their last four visits to the Hawthorns. Big Dave has installed a much needed never-say-die attitude in what had previously seemed a mentally frail squad, and recent results will have inspired confidence that they can get the better of Alli, Kane, Eriksen et al.
Two seasons ago, of course, it was a draw at home to Albion that finally handed Leicester City the title and Spurs failed to win any of their final four games including a 5-1 defeat at already-relegated Newcastle. However, they scored thirteen goals in their final two away games last season, so who knows which Spurs will finish this campaign!
Moore is unlikely to change what has proved to be a successful line-up while Pochettino must wait to hear on the fitness of Dembele and Rose before finalising his starting eleven. Harry Kane will be keen to play to try to catch Mo Salah at the top of the scoring charts but the England fan in me is aligned with the Baggie in hoping that Poch decides to give him a rest to ensure that he is properly over his ankle injury!
A win for the Baggies on Saturday would be their 50th league victory over Tottenham and their first at the Hawthorns for almost a decade. That was the second of two back-to-back home wins over Spurs (albeit three years apart), both of which finished 2-0, with the first memorable for Kanu’s celebratory lifting of a ball boy in December 2005 after scoring both goals. Albion’s previous home win over the Lilywhites was back in 1982 when Cyrille Regis scored the only goal of the game.
There have been a number of high scoring encounters between the sides over the years at the Hawthorns with the Baggies having scored four or more goals against Spurs on no fewer than twelve occasions including three 4-3 wins and a 4-4 draw in 1963. That eight goal thriller was a Boxing Day treat for the Hawthorns faithful who witnessed goals from Micky Fudge, John Kaye, Don Howe and Clive Clark for the hosts, while the legendary Jimmy Greaves grabbed a brace to add to goals from Cliff Jones and Bobby Smith.
The Baggies have twice scored five times in an encounter with Tottenham both in the roaring twenties. In October 1922, Stan Davies grabbed a brace in a 5-1 victory while Albion’s record victory over Spurs came five years later – Davies was once again on form with another brace, added to by a double from Joe Carter and another from Sammy Short in a 5-0 win.
Tottenham scored four at the Hawthorns twice in the early sixties, both games finished 4-2 firstly in the league in 1961, and then in the FA Cup a year later as part of the run that saw Spurs retain the trophy, but their largest margin of victory at the Shrine was somewhat more recent. Their last win at Albion in January 2015 is their biggest, a 3-0 reverse thanks to a brace from Harry Kane adding to a sixth minute opener from Christian Eriksen.
Eleven of the twenty-three Premier League fixtures between the sides have finished all square, and I think this one will as well to finally end the hopes of a miracle escape.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
25 Nov 2017 – Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Kane)
West Brom 1 (Rondón)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
15 Oct 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Chadli)
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Alli)
21 Sep 2014 – Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 0
West Brom 1 (Morrison)
Last win at the Hawthorns
28 Dec 2008 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Bednar, Beattie)
Tottenham Hotspur 0
Albion’s Record against Tottenham Hotspur
|Premier League Record|