Spurs host West Brom on Saturday, who, for the first time in almost three seasons, head into a match at Wembley without Tony Pulis at the helm.
Pulis was sacked in the aftermath of West Brom’s 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea. The sacking came on the back of four successive Premier League defeats for the midlands club, who find themselves a mere point above the relegation zone.
While the Lilywhites have lost only once in 15 previous meetings with the Baggies, West Brom have tasted defeat one time in the last five away tests at Spurs. Historically, this fixture sees a lot of draws, with eight of the last fifteen ending in a stalemate.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s side showed their superiority when the teams last met in January, with Spurs handing West Brom a 4-0 thrashing.
Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace are the only Premier League teams to record fewer away points so far, with West Brom taking four points from a possible 18. In those six away encounters, the Baggies scored three goals and allowed eight. Their single away victory came at Turf Moor against Burnley on Aug. 12, three and a half months ago.
Spurs happy to be home
Sounds like a strange thing to say, with all the historic negative rhetoric surrounding playing at Wembley, but Spurs are happy to be home after losing consecutive away matches in the Premier League for the first time in over a year.
Tottenham, at White Hart Lane and Wembley, have lost a single match in their last 25 home fixtures. After a slow start to the current campaign, Spurs have found their feet at the national stadium. They’ve won three on the bounce – against Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth – by a 6-1 score line.
Top four finish prime concern for Spurs
Forget runaway leaders Manchester City for the time being, Spurs need all three points to avoid falling out of the top four. Two behind Chelsea for third, Tottenham are a point up on the chasing pack – Arsenal, Liverpool, and of all teams, Burnley.
Maintaining their place in the top four has to be the primary focus for Pochettino’s men as they enter the busy Christmas period. Any more dropped points against lesser teams will cause irreparable damage to Tottenham’s 2017-18 title aspirations, while leaving the team with an uphill battle to be counted among the top three.
According to the PremierLeague.com, only Newcastle United (6) and Liverpool (5) have taken more away points against Pochettino’s Spurs than West Brom (4).
Losing a long-serving manager is never an easy thing for a squad to deal with, but it’s a routine part of the modern game. Teams historically play well in matches following a manager’s sacking, so Spurs will have to be on full alert, ensuring they don’t add to those foreboding stats.
Pochettino, though I doubt here’s aware of the Baggies’ success against him, won’t allow for his team to lose three successive Premier League matches. It’s a worst-case scenario that doesn’t bare more thought.
(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)