After our Europa League endeavours, next up sees us face Alan Irvine’s Baggies in the Premier League, as its Spurs vs West Brom at the Lane.
With a new head coach and a host of summer signings, the Baggies roll up at the Lane without a win and only one goal scored in the Premier League from open play.
Alan Irvine becomes their third manager in two seasons and he’s still trying to get his side to gel. So, what can we expect and what tactical ploys should we be looking for in Spurs vs West Brom this time.
West Brom counter and cross
The Baggies have been a number of things in the last few seasons. Steve Clarke set them up as a counter attacking team and did well. Pepe Mel then came in and tried to get them to play a high pressing game, with disastrous results that almost saw them relegated.
Alan Irvine has now been put in charge and the Scot once more favours the counter attacking approach, something the squad he inherited were bought to do.
The Baggies once again like to draw the opposition on, but when in possession of the ball, they are set up to cross.
These are not just balls flung in to the box. The Baggies play for a mixture of low-driven crosses and aerial ones, as Saido Berahino is quick over the ground whilst Brown Ideye is good in the air.
Only Stoke (113) and Southampton (112) have attempted more balls in to the box than the Baggies 109 so far this season in the Premier League. An even more remarkable feat given that they have only averaged 47.5% possession in matches.
Against Everton last weekend, there was no let up as Irvine’s side continued to punch above their 27 crosses per game average for the season.
Accuracy has been a problem though, with the Baggies only finding their targets 21% of the time. This is a large reason why they only have one Premier League goal from open play. Unsurprisingly, this was a short lofted cross from Craig Gardner to Saido Berahino.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Brom should note that the Baggies will try to work the ball in to crossing positions from wide areas. The focus has often been from the left flank where Sebastien Pocognoli and Chris Brunt work in tandem. Over on the right Andre Wisdom has been the chief deliverer as Irvine pushes his full backs on.
Conceding early and often
The problem for the Baggies is that they are set up to be a counter attacking team, but conceding early goals has pulled them out.
In three of their four Premier League matches so far, West Brom have allowed the opposition to score an early goal. Both Swansea and Everton were ahead inside of 2 minutes; Sunderland with 5 minutes on the clock.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Brom should see us go after them early to see if we too can get off to a quick start.
The Baggies conceding has been a result of defensive errors and miscues on all three of these early goals.
One thing that has shot West Brom in the foot has been defensive errors leading to goals conceded. Quite remarkably it’s been the usually reliable Jonas Olsson that has been at fault.
His scuffed clearance went straight to Lee Cattermole who fired home for Sunderland to go ahead after 5 minutes on opening day. He then slipped to allow Nathan Dyer to run through and slot home with just 2 minutes on the watch at Swansea. Last weekend, his misplaced pass went straight to Romelu Lukaku who curled the ball back in to the corner of the net.
But it’s not just been Jonas Olsson committing these errors that have resulted in goals for the opposition.
Ben Foster dived over Kevin Mirallas’ tame shot last weekend against Everton, whilst Chris Brunt gave the ball straight to Gylfi Sigurdsson against Swansea. The Icelander’s cross was only partially headed out by Craig Dawson, but it went straight to Wayne Routledge who volleyed the ball back in to the net.
Errors have killed West Brom this season, especially early in the game. This has seen them not only fall behind in matches, but it also allowed teams to draw them out from their counter attacking game.
Drawing the Baggies out
Having success against West Brom has seen teams which have done well against them press at the start to get a lead, then drop off and counter attack as the Baggies have to chase the game.
Swansea smashed them 3-0 and were a goal up in 2 minutes; then two ahead inside of 24. They were quite aggressive off the bat to press West Brom in the first half.
With a healthy lead, after the interval they sat back and counter attacked, eventually grabbing a third after 71 minutes.
Everton also won last weekend with a similar plan. They too benefited from a defensive error to go a goal up inside 2 minutes, but they also played a higher pressing game.
After the interval, they too dropped off and counter attacked the Baggies, adding a decisive second on 66 minutes.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Brom should not only see us look to capitalise on their defensive errors, but also press them high to start the match.
If we can get a decisive lead, then drawing them out and counter attacking a team that likes to play on the break themselves should lead to further goals.
West Brom have had trouble coping with players between their lines of defence and midfield and this has seen opponents profit.
West Brom allowing chances
The Baggies have been vulnerable to their own defensive errors, but they have also conceded chances through their right back zone. Andre Wisdom patrols this area and teams have had success in creating chances and goals through here.
Sunderland didn’t create much against them, but did score a late equaliser through this zone as Patrick van Aanholt cut the ball back for Sebastian Larsson.
Southampton failed to take their opportunities, but also created chances from this area.
Everton scored once from getting in to Andre Wisdom’s right back zone and also created other chances from working the ball in or to here. Leighton Baines play and surging forward runs down this flank were a constant thorn in the Baggies side.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Brom should see us also focus on getting in-behind through Andre Wisdom’s right back zone. Our left flank has been the focus for attacks by Mauricio Pochettino, as he combines Danny Rose on the overlap with Nacer Chadli drifting inside. This combination will be profitable in the search for goals on Sunday.
Spurs vs West Brom outlook
The head-to-head between Spurs vs West Brom at White Hart Lane has traditionally produced a tight game. Two of the last three at home in the Premier League have finished in draws, with only a single goal scored by us each time.
With the Baggies struggling to get their side to gel and out of form, this encounter sees us as heavy favourites and we should oblige. That is if we can get over our post Europa League hangovers that seem to blot our performances after a trip abroad.
Pressing high to star the match is imperative, as is trying to grab an early goal. This will force West Brom to come out from their counter attacking shape and allow us to drop off and counter them.
Spurs vs West Brom prediction: Spurs 2 West Brom 0.