It’s getting a little difficult for me to find the motivation for examining this upcoming game from an analytical stand point. It’s much more tempting to take a more poetic and rhetorical angle on our current situation in the style of Spooky http://www.dearmrlevy.com/dml/2016/4/19/serenading-spurs
Maybe it’s the brain mushing intensity of the title race getting to me. Maybe it’s the unimpressive negativity of the opposition ahead. Or maybe it’s a growing acceptance that Spurs are now at a level way above the four teams we have left to face that we needn’t be so mindful of them. That we are now in a position where my preview can be summed up in “We’ll play our game, it’ll be great and we’ll win”. Okay maybe not quite so brief:
In recent games against Stoke and Liverpool we played a shape much closer to it is on paper. Eriksen high and on the left. Alli central but still a midfielder. Dier and Dembele tied together and both equal distance between defence and attack. I think that’s because in both games we played very directly, somewhat counter attack, and for that needed well defined defensive roles that allowed us to create two banks of four.
The idea that Spurs would simultaneously have less of the ball than Stoke and win emphatically is laughable when taken from the perspective of the last 5 years.
A large part of that is because Stoke are still tied to the reputation they garnered under Tony Pulis. Well now Pulis is now at West Brom and while he hasn’t turned them into the Stoke team he had he is trying to.
They will set up deep and narrow with the intention of frustrating us. They will attempt to impose theirselves on us physically. They will attempt to nick one on the counter by utilising the individual talents of Sessegnon and transfer target Berahino. And they will hope that target man Rondon will cause us problems. But I’m fairly confident they won’t. Not least because, for once, the opposition had to play on a Thursday night and we are the team with the full week’s rest/training. This confidence still feels so unnatural but it’s not undeserved.
Against Liverpool and Stoke I wrote out our line-ups in the 433/3421ish shape that Pochettino has gradually moved us to throughout the season and I was wrong. But I’m doubling down. West Brom will sit back and invite us forward and so Pochettino will likely instruct Alli and Lamela to operate almost as forwards with Eriksen coming deep into the space to dictate our play.
Expect errors in my West Brom line-up. Rotation across a packed schedule and an uncertain XI makes guessing them a challenge.
In Spurs team news Clinton N’Jie is fit. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and some Spurs fans are becoming very excited by the return of a winger who, although very promising and exciting, has produced fairly little so far and as Pochettino put it “there are other players in front of him” in the squad. N’Jie’s Lennon-esque pace off the bench could prove worthwhile between now and the end of the season but I doubt that will be the case against Pulis’ West Brom.