Dele Alli returns to where everything collapsed around him.
Last year, with Tottenham pushing as high in the Premier League table as they could, looking to one-up arch rivals Arsenal, it all went wrong at home against West Brom. Alli sucker punched Claudio Yacob in the penalty area, earning him a three-match ban with four matches remaining. Spurs failed to win against the Baggies or anyone else to finish the season, ending up in third just a point behind Arsenal.
Now, Dele Alli is in the headlines for all the right reasons. Spurs have won five straight, and Alli has scored a massive seven goals in their last four, even more incredible given he’s a midfielder.
Can West Brom stop the Spurs machine that is on a tear? Tony Pulis has painted his own masterpiece with the Baggies this season. They may have fallen out of the FA Cup to a good Derby side this past weekend, but they’ve won two straight in the league and have played top teams close.
The problem is in front of goal. In their last three matches against top teams (vs. Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea), they’ve held opponents to just four goals, but have scored none. Can Pulis find the answer on the attacking end?
What they’re saying
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on Dele Alli: “[The punch of Yacob] was one season ago, he is a very clever and smart guy. Now he feels what happened last season and he is more mature now, he has learnt a lot. You try to advise and translate your experience and make them better.”
West Brom manager Tony Pulis on former Spurs winger Nacer Chadli: “We had him right at a level that he wants to be, and I don’t think – even if you speak to him – he has got back to that level since his injury. But we think he’s not just a player for now, he’s a player for the future. The young players will learn off him, because his ability is fantastic.”
West Brom’s tactics are everything that Spurs hate. Tottenham is clicking on all cylinders, but all good things must come to an end. A 1-1 draw leaves Mauricio Pochettino frustrated postmatch.