West Brom vs Spurs: How to beat the Baggies

West Brom vs Spurs in the Premier League is up next so we look at the weak spots in Tony Pulis’ side.

Tony Pulis is one of the most reliable coaches in the Premier League, but his side are having a very inconsistent time this season. Having gathered more points on the road than at home, his counter attacking approach is yet to be fine-tuned at the Hawthorns.

So, what can we expect and what are the weaknesses in his side for West Brom vs Spurs this time?

Where West Brom concede chances

Tony Pulis sides are traditionally strong in the centre and the space to be exploited is in the full back areas. He has always had good strong centre backs wherever he has coached and seeks to protect them with at least two or three central midfielders.

That has been no different at West Brom as he wants to make opponents beat his side from the flanks. That is why Arsenal, a team that likes to go through the inside channels, struggled and lost 2-1 to the Baggies. Whereas Leicester, a team that plays far more from the wings with Albrighton and Mahrez, beat them 3-2.


Leicester chances created vs West Brom.

Leicester had real joy with Marc Albrighton attacking right back Craig Dawson, who is more of a centre back filling in at the right back position. Dawson is a very capable as a full back, but can be beaten by more tricky wingers or players with pace.

On the other side, Chris Brunt, a more natural midfielder, is also a target for opponents. Like Dawson, Brunt is a makeshift full back and equally fallible to teams that can get forward and put him on the defensive. Everton highlighted this in their fightback from two goals down to emerge victorious 3-2, as Gerard Deulofeu got in to Brunt’s zone to feed Romelu Lukaku.


Everton chances created vs West Brom.

Mauricio Pochettino will probably go with his usual tactics to overpower in the central midfield zone. This cuts down on attacking transition times to get the ball moving forward quicker and over a shorter distance to the opponent’s goal. However, we will have to play the ball out to the flanks in this match if we are to avoid the trap that Arsenal fell in to. The choice of players in the wide midfield roles will be crucial to the Tottenham tactics in West Brom vs Spurs on Saturday afternoon, otherwise our full backs will have to be heavily involved in play.

Pressing the full backs

West Brom’s full backs are vulnerable to teams that can get tricky and speedy wingers at them 1v1. To give them added complications, pressing them when in possession also gives them increased hassle whereby turnovers come in to the equation.

Leicester, a team that gave them a torrid time from the flanks, did just this.


Leicester ball recoveries vs West Brom.

The Foxes were very good at getting out in to the wide areas to close down the Baggies’ full backs to create turnovers from which counter attacks could be launched.

We often see us try and hem the opposition in and use the sidelines to restrict the space to play in and thus the opponent’s options on the ball. I fully expect to see this being effective in West Brom vs Spurs this time.

Stopping the crosses

With players like James McClean, Chris Brunt, Stephane Sessegnon and Callum McMananaman, who can all put in a good ball, and a big target in Salomon Rondon or Rickie Lambert, West Brom are a good crossing based side.

We’ve had trouble with big centre forwards against Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld as neither are strong in the air when it comes to defending strikers with size and good leaping ability. Trying to stop the crosses at source by getting to the wide players early and pressing the West Brom full backs to force them backwards are what is needed here.

Set Pieces

Anytime you face a Tony Pulis side, you have to be aware of the dangers they pose from set pieces. Pulis has always coached his team extensively on the training field in these situations as they are not big scorers from open play. This gets them vital additional goals, as he is often prepared to give up possession and territory in matches, as he wants wants his team to have space to counter attack in to. Therefore, getting strikes from set pieces becomes a way of getting ahead in games to then open them up for his side to counter attack.

We can’t allow ourselves to get behind against a team such as West Brom, as we have struggled to break down sides that sit back and look to defend deep. Whilst we have greatly improved at scoring from set pieces, being organised to defend them still remains an issue under Mauricio Pochettino. He persists with using a mix of zone and man-to-man marking and that has seen us give up a number of chances.

Interestingly, We have given up the sixth most shots from set pieces in the Premier League, whilst West Brom have allowed the fifth highest, so a free kick or corner routine may settle this match.

West Brom vs Spurs outlook

West Brom haven’t been good at home this season, but this could be a long afternoon if we get bogged down trying to play through the centre. The key to beating them will be putting pressure on their full backs and moving the ball out in to wide areas for crosses, cut backs, pull backs or even balls through the inside channels.

West Brom vs Spurs prediction: West Brom 1-2 Spurs.

West Brom vs Spurs betting

Spurs to win 10/11 with BetVictor.
HT/FT: Draw/Tottenham at 43/10 with 888Sport.
Son Heung-Min anytime goal at 9/4 with Betfair.

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11 Responses to West Brom vs Spurs: How to beat the Baggies

  1. Reinert 4th December 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    I have to thank you Mark, for putting up all these analysis-pieces. They must be a lot of work! They are both entertaining and enlightening. You know the saying, “when an intelligent person speaks, you feel stupid, but when the wise person speaks you feel smart:” This is a good way to describe the way I feel about your articles. Since I started reading, you really have been big part of transforming my understanding of the game.

    What are your predictions of our schedule until New-Years? Right now it seems the most important part of our (new-found) winning mentality is, that we have raised our minimum-level of play. It is, after all, the weakest link that dictates the strength of the whole chain: In the past this weak link was represented by our failure to win the “already won” matches against “weaker teams.” Now, we seldom lose, and have even increased our top-level play. Do you think this encompass the whole squad and makes us a top-four candidate?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2015 at 10:31 am #

      Thank you for the kind words Reinert, I very much enjoy the blog and chatting with fellow Spurs fans that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to if it weren’t for this. I’m very happy that you are improving your understanding of the game, we all always continue to learn and discover new things.

      I think we can continue to make a push for the top four until New Years. No Europa League games after next week for a while will be a big plus to helping make that happen. We are beating the teams that we are supposed to, which is what is helping us go on this run. We need to keep that going throughout the season and I think this is a mentality that Pochettino has instilled in the squad that other managers have failed to. Whether we can keep that going when the pressure is really on ie in April/May when we know that nothing less than 3 points is required against a ‘weaker’ team to stay in contention, then that will be the next character building step. There is something different about this squad and the way they speak and act says that their is a real positive culture of improvement and mental strength around the place right now. That can only be a good thing.

      • Reinert 5th December 2015 at 3:08 pm #

        Indeed. Sorry, I will go on a rant! A mentality-rant, and why I was so happy with the appointment of Pochettino:

        One of my gripes with fooball players is that I don’t nessecarily view them as great athletes: If you view the top athletes in the individual sports (tennis, swimming, golf, alpine etc.), the amounts of practise and dedication is astounding. Not so in most top-flight football players. This creates myths of “talent,” and “luck.” In football, “having the flow,” is more important, because the players don’t nessecarily have a wide enough set of skills and a mindset ready to deal with the situation at hand. If somehow “the flow” is against the average top-flight footballer, the player will suffer in performance. Football is a great sport because of how easy it is to have an opinion on it, and of course, I am no different.

        The problem is sort of that the players also believe in the myths about themselves. I believe that we can see this situation in Tottenham, it is crystal clear (to me at least, but maybe I am just seeing things), and how it has transformed under our new coach. He is a great teacher, and he has vision. Others might be better coaches or legends on the pitch – Poch the pedagog is the best there is at his game – Pochettino is the best at teaching his word. Our players are increasingly less interested in the short term-goals, because they can glimpse the fabric of their coach’s plan. Everyone of the cogs in Pochettino’s simple, but complex playerbase have a purpose, and that is their focus: Their purpose on the pitch.

        Players that took the three points for granted by looking down on other teams are gone – coincidentally, these are the players that took for granted that they would play based on their merits – or in other words, our coach is a stone hard business-man. Much like our excellent chair-man, Levy.

        When we appointed Pochettino, I was excited! When I heard of his team-building efforts at the very start I was in awe at how he grasped the attention with word and action. When we started to replace key areas outside the pitch, I was shaking! When he based his starting teams on grit and positions, not names, I knew for sure, that we had struck gold.

        I thought that we finally have a connection, from the very top, and all the way through down to the foundations of the club, that the whole club now works together, from the administration, to the academy, coaches, players and ultimately, the fans. “Spursing it up” might be a funny way to distance oneself from failures, but it gets you nowhere. It is an excuse. We have shed the illusions and the myths at the only part of the club where it matters: Our players. They believe in what they do, and they behave like a unit. They believed long before we fickle fans did.

        As we saw in the beginning of the season, in our draws against Everton and Stoke, as well as the loss to Anderlecht – that doesn’t really happen anylonger, does it. We graft a result, these days! hope this means that the boys take every game just as seriously, because at the end of the day, one can only get three points from a match, or lose as many, no matter the opposing team’s position on the league-table. Going into a match with the mindset that one *should* get the full pot, will most of the time lead to a stressed situation, because no one told the opposing team that they were gifting points, did they?

        Only the very biggest teams, that command actual dominance and have the experience of showing their grit at a regular basis, can do this. And when these teams win, it looks too easy. Which is the illusion. We have been fed on narratives of what a dominant team is, we don’t see the forest for the trees. It’s all about mentality, compatability and hard work. That is the base on what makes football fun to play, and watch, because it safe for the individual to let the ones’ talent shine. Ultimate team-sport! I think I can see this at spurs right now, and that is why I supported Pochettino from the start. He truly is the coach Levy didn’t know he was looking for, a business-man among coaches – our most important signing. COYS!

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th December 2015 at 10:28 am #

          Great comment Reinert. Well said about Pochettino, I think Levy did know what he was getting when he signed him and that is why the decision took so long and Tim Sherwood was given the half-season in charge.

          Everything seems to be well planned with Levy now. The training centre, the choice of coach, the new stadium, player recruitment etc etc, he is getting in people that fit the club’s overall goals and giving them freedom to do what they are best at and being hired for. He is meddling less and that is letting their expertise shine and we are reaping the rewards. Levy can focus on long term strategy and putting the bigger building blocks in to place whilst the team is in capable hands and being developed by a team of coaches and a recruitment staff that are in-sync with each other. It’s almost like the penny has dropped for Levy, the future is bright!

          • Reinert 6th December 2015 at 9:51 pm #

            Yes, I think the problems were two-fold: Our managers didn’t lead like Levy wanted for his grander scheme, which in turn led to him taking more charge of things outside his area of expertise.

            Pochettino is that final link between the academy assets and the actual professional football-world that Levy sought after.

            I have a meddling boss myself, but only because she didn’t trust her resources. The minute she understood that I could pull my hy own shift, she withdrew. Others are not so lucky, and feel her breath down the neck. I think this is a similar case (at least to an extent).

            I think that this kind of coach was the goal of Levy, all along. He simply can’t be as short-sighted, cold-hearted and cynical as some of our fellow fans deem him to be :P

            Here’s to the future! Cheers, Mark :)

            • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 7th December 2015 at 4:13 pm #

              Yes i think Levy is quite switched on whether it is for the good of the team or for commercial revenue opportunities. His meddling may have been because he didn’t trust the managers in the past and now he does he has backed off. I think it also has to do with that maybe he has finally realised he can’t go on controlling everything and needs to trust people because he has much bigger issues to deal with ie the Stadium and the development of the area around it and there are not enough hours in the day to get involved with transfers and day-to-day first team issues.

  2. anotherwisemonkey 4th December 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    Well said, Reinert! I fully echo everything said in your first paragraph. Thanks, Mark!

    Reading this piece, it seems that we should drop one of Eriksen or Dembele in order to accommodate both Son and Lamela on the flanks. Alli is another option but he has to start for me. I’m leaning towards Eriksen, due to his set piece ability. Dembele has done nothing wrong, but them’s the breaks.

    What would be your ideal eleven to win this match?

    • anotherwisemonkey 4th December 2015 at 11:40 pm #

      Reading that back, it’s not particularly clear! I mean that I would select Eriksen and drop Dembele.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Thanks for reading and the continued support Anotherwisemonkey, its a great community that we have built up on here. There are options, but i think that we can use our full backs to get the job done in wide areas. I’m not one to tamper with winning combinations and i just like the Dier, Alli with Dembele central midfield trio too much at the minute to change it. Eriksen and either Son or Lamela on the outsides are working so unless we are to introduce natural width eg Townsend on the left, then i would stick with the lineup.

      My XI would be:
      Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose;
      Dier, Alli;
      Son, Dembele, Eriksen;

      I would be using Dier, Alli and Dembele to establish control of the ball and have Rose and Walker bomb on at every opportunity to supply width and get at the West Brom full backs. If it wasn’t working then I would bring Townsend on to play down the left and be looking for him to get in-behind and cross. Onomah down the right would be my second option.

      What would be your starting XI?

  3. SomeDude 5th December 2015 at 12:24 am #

    Hey again. Was wondering who you thought could be use to fit the bill here? I suppose chadli and lamella but they are usually pretty keen to come in. Do you think this is an area that should be strengthened in January? I suppose it will be about quality over style of player as the squad is looking good.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2015 at 10:52 am #

      I really suspect that alongside another striker, Mitchell and co will be looking at adding some natural width as there isn’t really this option right now. I don’t think they’ll be looking at a player who is solely a winger, but more a multi-purpose player that can operate as a winger as one of their functions ie a player that can be a wide forward or a winger. They picked out Dusan Tadic and Eljero Elia (on loan) at Southampton and i expect a similar type of player if we don’t have one coming through the academy.