Tottenham Hotspur 4 - West Bromwich Albion 0
Albion have held something of a hoodoo over Spurs in recent times with the Londoners finding wins hard to come by - but buoyed, no doubt, by their win over leaders Chelsea two weeks ago they beat their visitors in quite emphatic style at White Hart Lane today.
With Allan Nyom and Jonny Evans unavailable, Albion had to put Chris Brunt in at left back and keep Jonas Olsson alongside Gareth McAuley at centre half. Nacer Chadli was recalled to face his old side alongside Matt Phillips and James Morrison and Salomon Rondon started up front.
Harry Kane opened the scoring when Christian Eriksen found him about fifteen yards out and his shot flew into the top left corner, and he nearly doubled the lead ten minutes later when he deflected a cross by Victor Wanyama at Ben Foster. But Spurs did score their second a minute later when Eriksen's shot was deflected off both Olsson and McAuley and past Foster. The ball was put into the Albion net again by Dele Alli a few minutes later but he was ruled offside.
Albion improved after the break, with Matt Phillips producing Albion's first real attempt on goal when he shot just wide in the first minute of the second half, and added energy by replacing Brunt with James McClean and Chadli with Hal Robson-Kanu, but Kane scored his second and Tottenham's third with a quarter of an hour remaining when Kyle Walker evade McAuley and crossed for him to fire home, and he completed his first hattrick of the season a few minutes later when he played a one-two with Alli and finished just inside the far post.
Albion will remain in eighth place as they currently sit four points ahead of ninth, while Spurs take second place at Liverpool's expense.
While I didn't think for a minute we would get anything out of today's game I couldn't help being really disappointed by our performance. Spurs were at their best and it really showed up the difference in quality but our inability to put two passes together meant they had an easy ride. I know I sound like a broken record but our lack of pace due to the age of our side is startlingly obvious. Tottenham have one of the youngest teams in the league. Playing McCauley and Olsson as a centre back pair against a pacey attack was suicidal.
It was probably game over by half time but our efforts to get back into the game and the substitutions were predictable and boring! We had a bench full of youngsters and one of them was given 2 minutes at 4-0 down? It's not all about experience or paying a huge fee, Dele Alli, Harry Kane seem to be doing OK. My fear is we will have another transfer window where we get a couple of experienced (old) pros and the kids will be shipped out on loan and disappear like so many before them.
Hopefully we get to 40 pts sooner rather than later and Tony might loosen up a bit.
Spuds were absolutely brilliant. But for Benji F it could have been 10. Our support was fantastic for the whole game. I hope Spuds win the league.
Let's get some quality players in. We desperately need them.
If there was any lingering doubt about the need to strengthen our aging squad, Spurs removed it with devasting efficiency. You could argue that Evans and Nyom were badly missed, but their inclusion wouldn't have changed the outcome.
The harsh reality is that there is a gulf between the top six clubs and the rest. We have seen that clubs like Everton (and even Newcastle and Villa) will always attract the better players ahead of Albion. It is credit to Pulis that he managed to get Fletcher, Evans and Phillips, all of whom have proved to be valuable additions in their own way. I think we are resigned to picking up players of this ilk, at the end of their career, or disenchanted with their situation. It is a waste of time going after players like Schneiderlin and Benteke whose aspirations or egos are way too big for a team like Albion. Even quality Championship players like Charlie Taylor will end up in London or with a top six club. This is the sad reality of the Prem for clubs like Albion.
But let's not get too despondent, we are still leading the points per pound spent league by some margin!!
Not a lot to report on as we were well beaten.
Agreed with most of what Pulis said after the game - the top 6 are miles ahead of everyone else this season and to have any chance you have to have your best 11 available and playing at their maximum. If you're going to have an off day - better to have it against one of the best sides in the league than in a game where you need/expect to win.
I thought the back 4 doomed us from the start - must have been the oldest and slowest back 4 in PL history and because we had to defend so deep it gave space to Erikson, Alli, Dembele etc because they are much younger, fitter and quicker than Yacob and Fletcher who were horribly dominated all game. Also, without Evans to pass it out or Nyom to carry it out, we have no way of getting the ball up the pitch with any hope of keeping it so it was the usual case of us not managing to string 3 passes together before giving it away or hoofing it to an outnumbered Rondon.
Despite this many of the goals were avoidable. Our first 3 set pieces were terrible, hitting the first man at low height and leaving us open to counters.
The 1st came from one where Phillips took a terrible free kick, recovered well but then sloppily put the ball out of play and from the throw Fletcher was caught flat footed out of his zone and Spurs brutally and brilliantly exposed us. Very avoidable.
The 2nd was worse - gave it away terribly, Mozza went in half heartedly into a 50-50 in the centre, Brunt looked all over the place as it was played inside him and despite Gmac and Ollie taking up decent positions our holding midfielders were nowhere and the free shot from the edge of the box took 2 deflections before bobbling in. Terrible.
The 3rd I think probably wouldn't have happened at 0-0 as surely GMac would have just put it out rather than trying to keep it and get us back in the game - a shame as he showed great pace to get to the ball first initially.
The 4th was basic ball watching - Fletcher in particular failing to carry on tracking Kane in the simple give-and-go.
Hard to criticise Pulis - I'd probably have started Howlin' mad McClean in this game because he can run and track back and Spurs do bomb on out wide - perhaps even at left back to at least give us a bit of pace in our back 4.
I'd also have given Field minutes sooner because frankly he couldn't have done any worse than Fletcher or Yacob and i was frustrated again that Leko didn't get 20 minutes at least because he could have at least given Rose or Walker something to do defensively and he desperately needs minutes. At 3-0 with nothing to lose why wouldn't you bring him on?
Next week is the important game - we need to turn up and put on a show.
A trip down the Lane that won't live long in the memory.
A match that had begun with Olsson deployed on the left of the two centre backs, as a like for like replacement for the injured Evans, and with Brunt still holding down the left-back spot in the absence of Nyom, had seen Albion go behind, first to a twelfth minute goal when Spurs worked a quick passing move through the nine defenders on the edge of the box to give Kane enough space to finally fire home, having already not made enough of a couple of earlier chances, and twelve minutes later Kane could have had what could have been a third or a fourth, as a diving header from inside the six-yard box was somehow saved by Foster, who would have yet another MoM performance in a losing cause, although he could do nothing about the home side's second, a minute after his save from Kane, when Eriksson's shot from the edge of the box was deflected off McAuley.
Not only did Pulis push Phillips up front as part of the change in the formation that saw McAuley move across to the left of Olsson at the start of the second half, but he was only prepared to gave Brunt seven minutes of it in the wide left midfield role before bringing McClean on for him, although unless you know what was expected of Brunt in those seven minutes then you'd really want to ask why that change couldn't have been made at the restart.
On the hour mark, Phillips would be on the move, within the formation, again, as the introduction of HRK saw him move over to the wide right role, Chadli having been removed from it, though with Albion unable to hold onto the ball and merely chasing shadows once Spurs had it, this change didn't change anything.
Twelve minutes later and it was all over, after McAuley, once again made a Horlicks of things out on the left touchline, first overrunning the ball and then failing to connect at all with a flailing attempt to hack it clear, which allowed Sours' right wing back to whip in a cross from which Kane would score his second. Maybe if Foster hadn't been panicked into running towards the edge of his box at the sight of McAuley being out there, he might have been able to pull off another save but he only just about made it back to the centre of his goal as the ball crossed the line.
Albion's inability to do much more in this one than watch as Spurs did whatever they wanted was rammed home as the game entered the last ten minutes, with both Olsson and McAuley content to stand off Dele Ali on the edge of the box and continue to stand and watch as he scooped the ball over them allowing Kane to drive in his third, with Dawson unable to get close enough to offer any kind of a challenge.
For the record, Phillips, having been moved closer and closer, across the field, to the bench, first with the formation change at the restart and then with the two substitutions, ended the game on it, in giving Scott Field a rather meaningless two minutes of top flight football, although, Foster aside, that was eighty-eight meaningless minutes less than the rest of them had.
Next up: Pulis has to change from the plan that tries to stay in the game against a top three side who are trying to push for the top of that three, to his plan for trying to stay in the game against a bottom three side, pushing to get out of that three altogether.
All text, pictures and graphics are copyright of BOING unless otherwise stated