An amazing Premier League game at the Hawthorns finished West Brom 3 Spurs 3.
The key for both sides was attacking the opponent’s left back. The Baggies got off to a flying start by taking advantage of lapse defending on our left side. We then came back through an assault on Liam Ridgewell’s left back zone.
Baggies bouncing start
West Brom got off to an absolute flyer, netting twice in the opening four minutes and there were three elements to their quick start.
The first was moving the ball quickly from back to front, something we looked at in the Tottenham tactics before the game.
Pepe Mel has introduced this recently in order for West Brom to take advantage of the personnel in their squad. When he arrived, the Baggies were set up to play counter attacking football, but Mel wanted them to play a higher tempo pressing game. He tried to get them to adjust to his style, but that failed and this seems to be a compromise in order to sit deeper and strike by moving the ball forward quickly.
These aren’t aimless punts forward. They are more passes that are played towards the wide areas and behind the opposition defence, which should be pulled up the pitch by the Baggies sitting deep.
West Brom were once again at this here. Although many were unsuccessful, shifting the ball quickly forward over distance played a part in all three of their goals.
The second element was to get bodies in the box in order to get out to an early lead. Once this is established, drop off and play on the counter to conserve energy.
The third was to attack down their right side at the weakness of our team, the left-sided combination of Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose. We’ve seen consistent tactical errors here since Tim Sherwood has taken over. The Dane drifts infield and can often leave Rose exposed or he is slow to help on the cover.
Elements of all three of these factors were at work to make an error ridden first half for our defence as West Brom raced in to a three-goal lead.
Their first came in the opening minute as the ball was sent quickly forward from the kick off, looking for Chris Brunt to get behind Kyle Naughton. His cross went through the box but ended up over on the other side with Morgan Amalfitano.
With the ball now on our left, the Frenchman wasted no time in attacking Danny Rose. Christian Eriksen was too far off and couldn’t rotate over on the cover quickly enough to stop Amalfitano crossing.
The other problem was the positioning of Younes Kaboul in no man’s land as he was ball watching, leaving West Brom 3v3 in the box.
As Hugo Lloris clawed the cross out, Stephane Sessegnon ploughed through Vlad Chiriches, leaving Matej Vydra to calmly slot home.
One became two as our left back zone was once again the source of West Brom’s second.
Again the play started with a long ball forward, this time looking for Matej Vydra running in-behind. However, Vlad Chiriches cut it out, but the ball went straight to Chris Brunt.
The play then worked its way across the field to our left side once again, as it wound up at the feet of Morgan Amalfitano. This time both Eriksen and Rose were sucked in, leaving a wide-open Steven Reid to cross.
Once again West Brom had equal numbers to us in the box, breaking the cardinal rule to always have a man over. What’s more Kyle Naughton was also caught pinching in to help cover the extra men and got caught in the middle with Chris Brunt wide open behind him.
Brunt made it 2-0 with a sweetly hit low-driven strike.
With us two down, it almost became three. Once again Amalfitano got free in our left back zone, with both Eriksen and Rose caught inside trying to stop Youssouf Mulumbu.
After two goals from attacking our left back zone, the third came from a very conventional speculative long ball forward.
Jonas Olsson once again was looking to send something from back to front quickly. Younes Kaboul flicked the clearance on and Stephane Sessegnon beat Vlad Chiriches in a foot race after initially pulling his shirt back from behind.
Why Younes Kaboul was so far out and ahead of Vlad Chiriches only he will know, but it was classic West Brom counter attacking stuff under Pepe Mel.
Three goals, two from attacking through our left back zone and getting bodies in the box, but all of them from moving the ball forward quickly.
Aaron Lennon vs Liam Ridgewell
With our left back zone being a rich source for West Brom’s lead, it was only appropriate that their left back zone was the source of us turning the game around.
Aaron Lennon has been extremely subdued in recent weeks, but he was instrumental in creating all three of our goals in a tremendous come back.
Liam Ridgewell was playing off him, respecting his speed. Then he tried to get tight to him; then laid off again, as Lennon gave him a torrid time.
It actually started at 2-0 to West Brom, as he was instrumental in the passage of play that lead to Adebayor’s missed penalty.
Christian Eriksen had drifted inside and found the diminutive winger out in acres of space, with Ridgewell playing narrow. West Brom had been determined to keep this central area tight in order to overload us in here.
Lennon drove at Ridgewell and skipped past him before sending a short chipped cross in towards Emmanuel Adebayor. It rebounded off him, but Danny Rose was first to the loose ball just ahead of Morgan Amalfitano to earn a penalty.
Adebayor missed, but Lennon would then get us on the scoreboard, as this time he snuck behind the West Brom left back again. Ridgewell and Brunt were playing narrow once more, with the left back drawn in towards Harry Kane.
Kane slid an excellent pass through and Lennon tried to square it for Adebayor, but the ball flicked up off the sliding Jonas Olsson and over the head of Ben Foster.
After this, Ridgewell tried to get tight to Lennon, but this then opened up the inside channel. Paulinho then raced through here, as Ridgewell was caught out wide.
Ben Foster made a good double save. First of all from Paulinho’s drive, then from Danny Rose trying to slot home the rebound. Rose was busy at both ends.
After the interval we got back in to the game to make it 3-2 with Aaron Lennon once more the provider.
The ball was again worked out for Lennon on the right. Liam Ridgewell had returned to playing narrow against him, giving the winger time to get up a head of steam and take him to the by-line.
Harry Kane, who had been making late runs in to the box all game, nodded home his cross. Kane was untracked as West Brom had 3v2 to start with in the box, but couldn’t handle the England youngster’s delayed movement.
Kane’s late runs had seen him get several good chances from within the six-yard box throughout the match.
Minutes after his goal, he just failed to slide on to the end of Paulinho’s ball across the area.
With the game now in the balance, it was only fitting that the come back would be completed in stoppage time, with Aaron Lennon the provider once again.
The passage of play started with a long ball forward for Emmanuel Adebayor to bring down. This has been a prevalent tactic under Tim Sherwood to look to get the ball to the big man early. However, setting up Harry Kane’s low-drilled shot past the post in the first half apart, it was rarely effective, until now.
As the ball arrived at Adebayor, it then went out to Lennon with West Brom’s full backs once again both playing narrow.
This allowed him to size up Ridgewell who was sagging off, playing as if Lennon was going to dribble to the by-line once again.
Lennon lifted the ball looking to get it in to the middle for the late run of Kane. However, Gareth McAuley flicked it on and it ended up going over everyone to Christian Eriksen who was free beyond full back Steven Reid.
The Dane then dribbled inside and he fired an unstoppable shot in to the roof of the net to make it 3-3.
West Brom 3 Spurs 3 overall
This was a game we really should have won. Once more a slow start and conceding through defensive errors meant we had to dig ourselves out of a hole.
West Brom had just 32% possession and 6 shots, but managed to race in to a three-goal lead. They did this through moving the ball forward quickly from back to front, getting bodies in the box and attacking our left back zone.
Christian Eriksen said we were confident, even at 3-0.
In turn, we got back in the game by going at their left back Liam Ridgewell, as Aaron Lennon was excellent after weeks of being a peripheral figure. If only he could influence matches more consistently.
Final score: West Brom 3 Spurs 3.