A great performance at the Hawthorns sees us emerge victorious, as our Premier League clash finishes West Brom 0-3 Spurs with Mousa Dembele key.
This was never going to be an easy game after the late, dramatic victory over Sheffield United, but an excellent performance saw us emerge with all three points.
The key to much of it was the positioning and play of Mousa Dembele, which blew the match open. Tony Pulis then shot his side in the foot with some overly aggressive changes that allowed Harry Kane to wrap the match up with it finishing West Brom 0-3 Spurs.
West Brom’s central trio
Tony Pulis talked before this game about how West Brom needed to win their home matches and here he went with an aggressive version of 4-4-1-1.
Saido Berahino played off Victor Anichebe, and as we looked at in the keys to West Brom vs Spurs, tried to have the youngster play two roles. He wanted to get Berahino free between the lines and up in support of Anichebe in attack, but in the defensive phase, Pulis wanted him to drop in. This was to get three central players in midfield along with Morrison and Yacob.
The problem is that Berahino is not the most defensively minded of players and often he was lagging. This saw him failing to shield his central midfield colleagues.
This left Yacob and Morrison to contend with our trio of Paulinho, Mason and Dembele, who simply overran them in this zone, Dembele especially.
Dembele blows the game open
Just as we’ve become accustomed to in matches now, we started quickly and looked to close down early. The pressing from the front was forcing West Brom back or having to clear long, which meant that we dominated possession.
When we had it, Mousa Dembele was unleashing his dribble drives with the ball and the Baggies’ midfield just simply couldn’t handle him. With just 6 minutes on the clock, he blew past Claudio Yacob as if he weren’t even there and the Argentinean lunged in to foul him in the act of shooting.
The problem the Baggies had in the build up was that Berahino was lagging behind the play as Dembele blew through the space between Morrison and Yacob.
Berahino drifting back meant there was one less player in here and so no screen or protection for Morrison and Yacob.
Christian Eriksen curled in another delicious free kick that Ben Foster tried his best to claw away, but couldn’t get enough on it to keep it from flying in. Eriksen’s set piece against Sheffield United involved a nice routine with a fake from Eric Dier, who was acting as a decoy, ducking in the wall. Here Paulinho lined up in amongst the West Brom players and his neat side step opened up the lane to send the ball through.
Eriksen is fast becoming a master of dead ball situations, but the routines going in to them are good indicators that we are working at these on the training ground.
With us taking such an early lead, it was interesting to watch if Tony Pulis was going to change his tactics away from the counter attacking game. He was noticeably shouting at Berahino to get back in and help his midfield out, but West Brom could do little to stop our waves of pressure.
One soon became two and again it came from Dembele getting on the wrong side of Berahino and in to the space behind the West Brom midfield. As Dembele received the ball and drove in-behind, Callum McManaman was wildly gesturing to say where the heck was his midfield with Berahino and Morrison wrong side.
Dembele burst forward in to the space, driving at the back four. We’d looked at Andre Wisdom’s right back zone being an area of weakness for the Baggies in the keys to West Brom vs Spurs and Harry Kane had peeled off in to this area.
In one touch, Kane took control of the ball and brought it back inside Wisdom, before unleashing a vicious shot in to the net at Ben Foster’s near post.
Kane and Eriksen were on the score sheet, but Mousa Dembele’s driving runs with the ball in-behind the West Brom midfield had put the Baggies in a huge hole.
West Brom counters and set pieces
West Brom were on the back foot, but the game could’ve turned out much differently, more like last years 3-3, if they hadn’t run in to Hugo Lloris. They had three good chances and all arrived via counter attack or set pieces.
Getting the ball forward quickly was the key and their first good chance came when they were able to get it out to Victor Anichebe. The big centre forward received the ball on halfway and turned Jan Vertonghen as the Belgian made an ill-advised challenge.
There was no real need for Vertonghen to go to ground, as this left James Morrison free to run in to the space he would’ve occupied.
Morrison received the ball and sent a curling drive towards the top corner that Hugo somehow managed to tip over with his cat-like reactions.
West Brom had two more good opportunities and both would arrive from set pieces. Tony Pulis’ sides are renowned for being well drilled at dead ball situations and here they were unlucky with both efforts.
The first came after they got the ball quickly forward to Anichebe again. This time he was matched up on the much stronger Fazio and the Argentinean was proving a tough opponent for him. Anichebe had been able to shrug and hold off Vertonghen, but the Argentinean on the other hand, was proving a difficult mountain to move. Anichebe earned a very soft and fortunate free kick, leading to Claudio Yacob being the next to be thwarted by Lloris.
The set piece play was neatly worked as the ball was pinged in a triangle to Saido Berahino running in-behind towards the byline. His pull back picked out Yacob, but a scuffed shot saw Lloris get down quickly to his right and push the danger away.
The move highlighted Pulis’ inventive set-piece mind, but their next one was much more conventional. A whipped in ball from Chris Brunt saw Craig Dawson rise above Harry Kane and plant a header against the bar.
We’d dominated possession in the first half with a whopping 65% at the interval, but West Brom had created some very good sporadic chances. All that was undone as Tony Pulis went very aggressive much too early with his changes.
We’d come out in the second half and again tried to press and rush West Brom in to errors. Mauricio Pochettino also made a very curious change. Just as against Sheffield United on Wednesday, he took off the highly influential presence of Mousa Dembele. In midweek, this released the up-field pressure off Sheffield United and they came storming back in to the game. The same switch here made you wonder whether it was going to happen again?
However, at the same time, Tony Pulis went extremely gung-ho with his changes. Wisdom and McManaman went off as Gardner and Ideye were brought on and West Brom went to a back three.
The move was extremely attacking to get Ideye up alongside Berahino and Anichebe, but also left huge gaps down the sides of his three centre backs. Just minutes after the change was made, Christian Eriksen was able to get forward and spring Kyle Walker in to this space down the outside of the three centre backs.
Walker chipped the ball back towards the middle and it hit Lescott on the arm as he was trying to recover and stop the cross coming in. Lescott may or may not have meant to stop the ball with his hand, but with it being raised and away from his body, there was no doubting that it was a spot kick.
Harry Kane coolly converted to grab his second of the game and effectively wrap-up the match.
West Brom would test Lloris one more time, as they searched for a consolation. They almost found it, as a long ball was put over Fazio’s head for Berahino to run on to.
The Baggies had been trying to get Berahino’s lightening pace matched up on the slower Fazio and Anichebe’s strength against Vertonghen, but rarely achieved this. Berahino darted on to the long ball and turned inside Fazio to shoot, but saw Lloris’ lightening reactions palm the ball across goal. Fortunately Danny Rose swept in to clear the ball just before Chris Brunt could touch it in to the gaping net.
West Brom 0-3 Spurs overall
After Wednesday’s dramatic late drama, there was a real spirit and character to this showing when we may have expected a hangover.
The recent run of results and performances seems to have galvanised the team. They believe in what they are doing and how Mauricio Pochettino wants us to play and it is bearing real dividends. There is an air of confidence and whilst earlier in the season there seemed to be a confusion around roles and responsibilities, there is currently real self-belief in our tactics and their execution.
Final score: West Brom 0-3 Spurs.