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Spurs v West Brom: Can Tottenham capitalise on Albion’s slow start under Irvine?

09:36 21 September 2014

West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine

West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine

EMPICS Sport

Tottenham correspondent Ben Pearce casts his eye over Alan Irvine’s struggling West Bromwich Albion outfit ahead of today’s Premier League clash at White Hart Lane.

Craig Gardner has swapped Sunderland for West Bromwich AlbionCraig Gardner has swapped Sunderland for West Bromwich Albion

THE LOWDOWN:

Tottenham and West Brom have undegone a similar amount of turmoil in the last year, with both clubs employing three managers over the past 12 months.

Spurs lost patience with Andre Villas-Boas in December and then removed Tim Sherwood at the end of the season – and West Brom opted for a virtually identical timescale, sacking Steve Clarke shortly before Christmas and then axing Pepe Mel in May, after just four months in the job.

Sherwood was offered the job at The Hawthorns but turned it down, so it went to Alan Irvine instead.

Irvine has previously managed Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday, and he was David Moyes’ assistant at Everton, but this is his first time in charge of a top-flight club.

It was an underwhelming appointment and cynics would suggest that the timing of the announcement – a few hours before England’s first World Cup game against Italy on June 14 – was deliberately chosen because the media’s focus was elsewhere.

Irvine has overseen a big overhaul, with 13 players leaving and 11 arriving, and the early results have not been promising.

The Baggies have taken just two points from their four league games and have failed to score in the last three, with draws against Sunderland (2-2) and Southampton (0-0) being followed by defeats against Swansea (3-0) and Everton (2-0).

The mood on terraces has deteriorated to such an extent that captain Chris Brunt was booed by a section of Albion fans during last Saturday’s home defeat against the Toffees, prompting keeper Ben Foster to criticise supporters.

“It is really silly, it doesn’t help at all. It’s pathetic, to be honest,” he said.

It all bodes well for Spurs today. And, having started so quickly and struck in the second minute at Sunderland last weekend, the Lilywhites may want to note that Albion have conceded in the second minute of their last two games.

COMINGS AND GOINGS:

Familiar faces such as Steven Reid, Liam Ridgewell and Zoltan Gera have departed, but Albion have added a number of new players – particularly in defence.

Joleon Lescott has arrived from Manchester City but is yet to make his debut, while Chris Baird – formerly of Fulham – and Belgium international Sebastien Pocognoli have also joined the rearguard.

The Australian Jason Davidson and the Costa Rican Cristian Gamboa both played in the World Cup, and 21-year-old right-back Andre Wisdom has come in on loan from Liverpool.

Craig Gardner has bolstered the midfield after arriving from Sunderland and the former Man City and Celtic man Georgios Samaras has boosted the front line, along with Nigerian Aide Brown Ideye.

However, both of Albion’s league goals have come from one of their existing players, striker Saido Berahino, who also netted twice for England Under-21s against Moldova last week.

REECENT MEETINGS:

Spurs have struggled against West Brom in the last two seasons, winning just one and drawing three of their clashes.

Christian Eriksen put Spurs ahead at White Hart Lane on Boxing Day last campaign, but Jonas Olsson immediately equalised – sound familiar? – in a 1-1 tie.

The return fixture in April was a real cracker. Albion were 2-0 up after four minutes and 3-0 ahead after 31 minutes.

But an Olsson own goal gave Tottenham some hope before half-time and Harry Kane made it 3-2 in the 70th minute before Eriksen hit a late leveller.

PREDICTION:

With West Brom in poor form, struggling for goals and confidence, Spurs should take all three points this time – a 3-0 home win.

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