Our footy scribe previews the EPL encounter between Tottenham and West Brom.
Following their dismantling of the formidable Chelsea juggernaut, Spurs rang the changes and recorded a comfortable victory over Aston Villa in the Cup. No such luck for West Brom. Tony Pulis’ side have been flying high in the league but went down to promotion hunting Derby County away from home.
Ever the pragmatist, Pulis will understand that the Cup is nothing more than a glittering distraction in the modern era of commercial necessity. Just ask Wigan Athletic's owners right now. But this could be a potentially trying afternoon for Mauricio Pochettino Spurs as they aim to give their title push more credence.
English Premier League | Saturday 14 January | White Hart Lane | 14:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Tottenham 3/10 | Draw 4/1 | West Brom 9/1
Spurs will be brimming with confidence after toppling the seemingly unbeatable Chelsea. Dele Alli has matured into a lynchpin of their creative engine, while Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele have formed a formidable midfield combination that has the perfect balance of physicality and progression.
The mesmeric form of Alli has seen him abandon his occasional petulance and actually focus on consistently affecting football games. I think that he will prove talismanic against a West Brom side known more for their brawn than quick thinking.
Harry Kane provides an excellent focal point and knows that this could be a tough afternoon against a physically exacting West Brom side. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kane dropping into deeper positions to pick up the ball.
Wanyama and Dembele will feel confident that they can curtail the midfield running of former Spurs man Nacer Chadli. I also think that Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will be encouraged by the fact that West Brom’s full-backs are hardly the most progressive that one will ever see.
Tony Pulis may not risk putting Jonny Evans right back into the starting line-up following a slight calf strain. Allan Nyom may partner Gareth McAuley in the heart of defence while Chris Brunt fills in at left full-back. The speed and athleticism of their defenders are going to be put to a severe test this weekend.
I think that Claudio Yacob and Darren Fletcher are going to have a tough time picking up the elusive Alli, while Walker and Rose are going to incessantly bomb forward. Chadli will be eager to impress against his former club, but I doubt he will see enough possession to affect this game.
Salomon Rondon’s form has been pivotal in their ascension up the table. Whether it scoring goals or just his generally tireless work ethic, it’s hard to imagine where the side would be without his contribution.
He will be hoping to get amongst the newly returned Toby Alderweireld, while Matt Phillips may be the one player who can spark from midfield. Otherwise, this may turn out to be a repeat of their trip to Arsenal, where they received 26 shots against them in the match.
Verdict: Tottenham Win (3/10)
There may not be any value here, but Spurs are tipped to win confidently. They are playing irresistible football and have too many weapons for West Brom. They also have enough of an aerial threat to trouble the physically threatening West Brom.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets