Last January West Brom came to White Hart Lane and struggling with injuries gave one of the most negative and ambitionless performances in recent memory. We won thanks to an individual piece of brilliance from Defoe and some fine saves from Friedel that came after the Baggies remembered late on that there’s more to football than keeping your shape and hoofing.
Hodgson is now bringing his tidy everybody-knows-their-jobs type football to an international audience of course and it’s Steve Clarke who is now in charge at the Hawthorns. A 3-0 win over Liverpool is an impressive way to start the season and indicates that we can expect more of an effort to win from the away team than we experienced last season. Perhaps the opening day was a good time to play the Scousers whilst they’re still getting used to Rodgers pass pass pass philosophy but even so, they were emphatically dispatched.
We too are in the midst of a revolution as the sidelining of Thudd and the (currently still impending as I write) disposal of Dawson confirm. You apparently need to be a certain type of player to fit into the high-pressing game that we’re now employing, one that big Tom’s turning circle and Dawson’s speed over ten yards disqualify them from. High-pressing maybe, but relying on the fragile Kaboul, Vertonghen in his first season in the PL, Caulker in his second and Gallas in his hundredth may also make it high risk.
Adebayor is now back in the fold, what state he’s in fitnesswise though I’ve no idea. Defoe will start on Saturday but how long he’ll be first pick is anyone’s guess. Rumours abound that we’ll be flashing more cash before long and if there’s another striker on the way, the manager’s preference for 4-3-3 will mean that Defoe may decide that a clean start elsewhere is needed. Last week Defoe was being lauded by the new manager, this week it emerges that there have been talks ongoing with the player’s agent. AVB has a way to go before one loses the sense that his public statements have a tendency to collide with rather than enforce reality. “Evolution rather than revolution” was the initial watchword, getting rid of Dawson so shortly after suggesting that he’ll be made skipper suggests an approach more fast-track than Darwinian.
West Brom are strong in midfield with Morrison, Mulumbu and Yakob all busy and mobile. Odemwingie and Shane Long both are dangerous. We’ll have to be at our best to overcome them I suspect with more creativity in midfield and decisiveness up front needed. Kaboul is out meaning that Vertonghen will make his debut.
Each game at the moment is like the opening of an advent calendar window at Christmas as a little bit more of the future is revealed. We’ll know a lot more a week from now when that other window, the transfer one, closes.
Mike Dean is the referee. COYS.
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