ALBION battled hard throughout what looked a daunting task from the outset with a patched up side, yet boss Roy Hodgson suffered a second straight defeat at the hands of title contenders Spurs.
Baggies nemesis Jermain Defoe scored his 8th goal in 14 appearances against the Baggies during his career; he seems to have that knack Robbie Keane used to hold against Albion in these encounters.
If I had said to you at the start of the season that Dawson, Jones, Thorne and Cox were to play in the same starting eleven in any top flight game you would have looked at me strangely. It was a brief reminder of the visit to Fulham last January, yet the performance was of a much better standard on this occasion.
Nicky Shorey was named stand in skipper due to the absence of regular captain Chris Brunt and understudy Jonas Olsson, quietly going about his work in an impressive manner.
After seemingly questioning his fringe players ability just 48 hours earlier, Hodgson handed out the plaudits and said he was “very, very proud” of his players. Quite rightly so.
A special mention for George Thorne making his full Barclays Premier League debut, turning 19 today, he coped well against what is arguably the best midfield in the Barclays Premier League, especially in an attacking sense.
Spurs started at a high tempo. A serious of corner kicks had to be defended by Albion in a testing opening 10 minutes. Gareth McAuley making a smart block from a Luka Modric shot which would have certainly tested ‘keeper Ben Foster had it have made its way through.
If Hodgson felt he had enough injuries to worry about, it was to get worse. Jerome Thomas injured a groin in a challenge with Modric, the feeling that two games in 48 hours may be the main factor in this instance. Albion will be hopeful that Thomas will be available for the next Premier League game in ten days time.
There was still time for Thomas to get booked before being replaced by Gonzalo Jara-Reyes, a cynical foul on Gareth Bale on the edge of the box led to a Rafael Van Der Vaart free-kick striking the Baggies’ wall.
Tottenham continued to press for the opener, Jones, McAuley and co. keeping the score at 0-0 with Foster making a smart finger-tip save from Van Der Vaart.
Hodgson’s men bravely held on until half-time, but it was still a question of when, rather than if the home side would finally find a breakthrough.
After the break
Albion’s resistance was finally beaten on 63 minutes. Dawson should have been tighter to Defoe as he received the ball with his back to goal 8 yards out, yet the finish was still of an excellent standard that beat Foster low down to his left-hand side.
Just prior to Spurs’ opener, Albion had been preparing their second substitution with James Morrison set to replace the largely ineffective Graham Dorrans.
Albion started to pass the ball better with Morrison’s presence, the retention was good and the introduction of Somen Tchoyi for the latter stages started to worry a nervous Spurs, who had lost William Gallas to what looked a significant calf problem.
Tchoyi pulled a fine save from the largely untested Friedel, before a string of late corners that in the end came to nothing and left Albion with no points from two games.
Put the FA Cup game to one side, Norwich at home now looks to have a greater importance and pressure on it than it may have done had Albion picked up one or two points over the past 72 hours.
With the likes of Mulumbu, Olsson and possibly Shane Long back in contention for the visit of the Canaries, Hodgson will have much more to choose from.
Chris Brunt has been sent for a further scan, yet the early prognosis is that he is likely to be missing for weeks, possibly even the whole season.
Hodgson has stated he feels the need for investment. And although he praised the likes of Cox, Tchoyi and Jara Reyes, he knows they are not consistent enough on a regular basis to establish West Bromwich Albion as a mid-table Premier League outfit.
As we all know, this is never usually the case. Jeremy Peace has always stated that January is more for a ‘topping up’ procedure, rather than making significant funds available.
Hodgson may be granted one or two loan deals, maybe low fee signings on higher wages. Apart from that, it will be mostly likely be a case of making do with what he has.
It could go one of two ways, but the home form and performances are primary concern for the Head Coach before even starting to worry about personnel.
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