42 min: Good save from Johnstone! Son’s corner from the left is flicked on at the near post and headed towards goal from close range by Aurier. Johnstone reaches to his right to paw the ball away, and then Peltier and Snodgrass throw themselves in front of Alderweireld’s follow-up shot. Brilliant defending.
41 min “You say that West Brom have been pinned back, and although that’s true I don’t think Spurs are making it particularly difficult for them,” says Adam-Kline Schoder. “There’s not much speed in Spurs’ play as yet, and the slowly curated crosses from the wings towards relatively static forwards in the box are making it pretty easy for West Brom’s defence. I find that frustrating, as the few times Spurs have upped the tempo they’ve (a) looked really good and (b) sliced through West Brom’s defence with ease. Ah well, we can’t all be Leeds, can we?”
Yes, it’s been a strange kind of domination. Spurs have had most of the ball and all of the chances, but at no stage have West Brom been overwhelmed.
40 min Corner to Spurs on the left. Son’s inswinging is cleared by the appreciable noggin of Kyle Bartley.
38 min “Afternoon Rob,” says David Reynolds. “Is there any chance that the football followers and pundits who are consumed with their disrespect and enmity for Jose Mourinho, and who wish to interpret everything he does as evidence for his evil or foolishness, could just be content that we have got the message. We understand you hate him. It is so tiresome to read and hear the same diatribes every single game.”
I don’t hate him at all; in fact I really want him to succeed at Spurs. But it would be a bit strange to preview this match by waxing lyrical about the feelgood factor at the Lane.
37 min Lucas Moura feeds a pass into Kane, 15 yards from goal. He shifts the ball to the right and spanks a shot that is pushed round the near post by Johnstone. The angle was tight but that was a decent effort from Kane.
36 min Son tees up the onrushing Ndombele, whose first-time sidefoot from 20 yards is kicked away by Bartley.
33 min Nothing is happening. West Brom have calmed things down after that slightly hairy spell.
31 min “How many times?” says Son to the referee after being dragged over by Peltier.
30 min “Hard to feel optimism at the moment Rob, even with Harry Kane back,” says Guy Hornsby. “We’ve rushed him back from injuries before and the games without looked like neither the players nor José knew what to do without him. We probably need to work it out as I’m not sure he’ll be around after May. If so, where do you think he’ll go?”
Arsenal? A 20th anniversary Sol Campbell tribute move?
26 min This is starting to look a bit ominous for West Brom, who have been pinned back in their own half for the last 10 or 15 minutes.
25 min “Seriously why did he play Kane?” says Zack Lawrence. “He looks really rusty. I can guarantee if someone like Bale had the chance he would score. Watch him score as soon as I send this.”
You say that, but Kane was only out for 10 days. Poor Bale has been rusty for about three years.
21 min A Spurs corner leads to a bit of a scramble in trhe area before Diagne pokes the ball away from Lamela in the six-yard box. Vital defending.
19 min Another chance for Kane. Lamela threaded the ball through to him in the area, and he moved onto his right foot before hitting a shot that had the sting taken out of it by a West Brom player. It looked set to fall for Lucas Moura in the six-yard box, but Bartley nipped in front of him to poke the ball behind for a corner.
18 min: Kane misses a sitter! Spurs should certainly be ahead now. Ndombele lifted a short pass towards Son, but it took a deflection off a West Brom player and ran through to Kane on the left side of the area. He moved in on Johnstone but dragged a tame left-footed shot wide of the far post.
17 min “Hey Rob,” says Adam Levine. “Compare and contrast the attitudes of managers in three sporting events in the last few days. Firstly the magnanimity of the Indian management when Roooooooot! scored his double hundred with both Kohli and Shastri heartily congratulating him. Secondly the reaction of hyper-competitive Eddie Jones to the loss to Scotland which was honest and fair. Finally Mourinho’s whiny snippiness after the loss to Brighton. All that to say, yes if Spurs lose it will be open season on him but he brings it on himself.”
What came first: the music or the misery?
15 min: Kane misses a good chance! That was much better from Spurs. Lamela, who was in the process of falling over, did very well to drag the ball down the line for Aurier. He picked out an excellent low pass to find Kane at the far post. Kane shifted the ball onto his left foot, just inside the area, and sliced a rising shot just wide.
11 min Lamela whips a curling shot over the bar from 22 yards; a pleasant effort, but off target.
11 min “Did you draw the short straw for this game?” says Ruth Purdue. “You have my sympathies.”
On the contrary, I’ve been lobbying for this since the fixtures came out.
10 min Son’s long-range curler is comfortably held by Johnstone, falling to his left.
9 min Grant plays in the underlapping Townsend, whose chipped cross is headed over by Diagne. It was a very difficult chance, jumping away from goal, but West Brom will be encouraged by the build-up play.
8 min Lucas Moura receives the ball 25 yards from goal and moseys around for a bit before suddenly bursting past two players. Then he stabs the ball past Ajayi on the edge of the area, forcing Bartley to come across and clear. That was a lovely little surge from Moura.
7 min West Brom move the ball nicely from right to left, where Townsend swings in a deep cross that just evades Maitland-Niles at the far post.
5 min Spurs have had all of the ball early on, though West Brom look pretty comfortable defensively.
4 min Davies surges infield from the left, plays a clean one-two with Kane and is crucially tackled on the edge of the area by Ajayi. Davies would have been through on goal.
2 min Erik Lamela is actually playing on the right, with Lucas Moura as the No10.
1 min Peep peep! Spurs, in their white home kit, kick off from left to right. West Brom are sporting their yellow and red third strip.
There’s a bit of snow at the White Hart Lane Stadium, though it hasn’t settled. It’s a lovely day really. Little brisk.
It’s nearly time for kick off. Have a listen to this while you wait.
“As I have enough trouble following the narratives of my team, begins Ian Copestake, “I wonder if there was one surrounding Spurs’ reliance on Kane and the failure to buy an extra centre-back … damn.”
Always with the narratives.
“Once, in San Diego, I stayed with some strange tattooed guys and they had a big snake,” begins Michael Frankel. “On the day they fed it, I caught glimpse of a rabbit edging towards this huge boa, offering its neck to get the whole thing over and done with. So many Spurs fans will be wanting the Baggies to win today – Up the Baggies is today’s COYS!”
It’s such an intriguing relationship. I still think he’ll win a trophy before it goes all Blue Valentine.
“After Brighton and then Chelsea, I was sure that Mourinho would think at least three times before putting Sanchez and Dier close to the starting XI,” says Yash Gupta. “Maybe it’s just a case of Rodon not being ready yet as Sanchez is back. Perhaps I’m too critical of those two plus Sissoko, Winks, Moura and Bergwijn, so being on positivity mode again, HEY IT’S WEST BROM, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG.”
“This is a must-win game for Mourinho,” says Zack Lawrence. “His Spurs side have looked terrible, lack creativity and rely heavily on Kane and Son. Even on Thursday, when Chelsea went 1-0 up it looked like game over. This is a great chance for Spurs to win a game but I wouldn’t put it past them to lose.”
Team news: Kane starts
Harry Kane is back ahead of schedule, a big boost for Spurs, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles makes his debut for West Brom. Both managers have made multiple changes after disappointing defeats in midweek: four for Spurs, five for West Brom.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Ndombele, Hjojberg; Lamela, Lucas Moura, Son; Kane.
Substitutes: Hart, Doherty, Rodon, Dier, Sissoko, Bale, Bergwijn, Vinicius, Scarlett
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1) Johnstone; Peltier, Bartley, Ajayi, Townsend; Sawyers; Snodgrass, Maitland-Niles, Gallagher, Grant; Diagne.
Substitutes: Button, Furlong, O’Shea, Yokuslu, Livermore, Phillips, Robson-Kanu, Robinson, Pereira.
Referee Stuart Attwell.
Hello. Two months ago, Spurs were top of the league and Jose Mourinho was back, baby. Now they are ninth and he is finished, again. Spurs have lost their last three league games, look bereft without Harry Kane and played football from the dark ages against Chelsea on Thursday. But their poor form precedes Kane’s injury. They have taken nine points in the last 10 league games, which is fewer than Sheffield United: two wins, three draws and five defeats, the only 2-3-5 we’ll see on Mourinho’s watch.
Most managers would get a pass for a bit of poor form, such has been the general weirdness of this Premier League season, but not Mourinho. This says more about us than him, although he did invent his own soap opera so he’s not entirely blameless. Either way, he knows he will never be judged soberly – and that if Spurs fail to beat West Brom today, it will be open season.
Kick off 12pm.