Defoe's blond ambition ends West Brom's resistance
Tottenham 1 West Brom 0:IT IS tempting to wonder whether Jermain Defoe’s desperation to be noticed provided the motivation for his blond crop. The striker has struggled to nail down a regular starting place for Tottenham Hotspur while he frets over his England prospects at Euro 2012.
The livewire, though, offered a more conventional reminder of his talents as he broke West Bromwich Albion’s dogged resistance to maintain Tottenham’s eye-catching form.
This was far from being a vintage performance and Spurs survived a few scares towards the end, particularly when Albion sub Somen Tchoyi exploded a drive at Brad Friedel. Gareth Bale also chested a corner from Nicky Shorey off the line as the visitors belatedly threw off the shackles but Tottenham got the job done.
West Brom had arrived with key players missing through injury, and inexperience in their starting line-up; George Thorne, the teenager, made his full Premier League debut in the middle of a five-man midfield designed to contain.
Tottenham were on the front foot at the outset, moving the ball sharply and the challenge for Roy Hodgson’s team was to keep tabs on Tottenham’s wandering creative threats.
Gareth Bale has only nominally felt like a left winger in recent games while to describe Rafael van der Vaart as a right midfielder would fall foul of the Trade Descriptions Act. Harry Redknapp’s strikers dropped deep and scampered wide as Tottenham pushed and pulled in an attempt pick Albion apart.
Expectation levels have risen at White Hart Lane, which is not a new phenomenon, and there was the feeling for much of the early running that the home crowd hoped to sit back and watch Tottenham blow Albion away.
Albion, though, were not the obliging opponents. Hodgson has drilled them in the fundamentals and they were prepared to put their bodies on the line. There was no quarter given in the challenge, by either side. Even Van der Vaart made a few tackles. Sandro came off worse after one and he limped off in obvious distress; Tottenham were already missing Scott Parker and so on came Jake Livermore. Albion had lost Jerome Thomas to an injury moments earlier.
The first half was stodgy and uninspiring, even if Albion’s resilience was admirable. Van der Vaart had the only chance of the half, when he attacked the near post to meet Bale’s low cross from the left. His flicked effort forced Ben Foster into an acrobatic tip over the crossbar.
Mercifully, there was greater tempo after the interval. Adebayor’s back-heel gave Defoe the glimmer of an opening while Van der Vaart’s cross saw him steer a deflected effort just wide.
Albion had sightings on goal. From a Dorrans corner, Craig Dawson flicked a header wide and Cox warned Friedel’s gloves from a tight angle.
Defoe’s goal was typically predatory. Benoit Assou-Ekotto fed Van der Vaart, who moved the ball to Bale and he crossed low for the little striker. His first touch failed but he used his body to buy himself some time before he pivoted and smuggled his shot into the corner.
Tottenham counted the cost of the evening in injuries with William Gallas following Sandro on to the treatment table. It felt typical when Livermore was forced off with a head wound after clashing with Younes Kaboul, his team-mate. Kaboul also needed treatment to address a cut.
West Brom finished with a bang but could not dig out an equaliser. Spurs were value for the points.
TOTTENHAM: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas (Bassong 67), Assou-Ekotto, Van der Vaart,Modric, Sandro (Livermore 30), Bale, Adebayor, Defoe, Livermore (Kranjcar 77). Subs not used: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Giovani, Rose.
WEST BROM: Foster, Jones, Dawson, McAuley, Shorey, Cox, Thorne (Tchoyi 79), Scharner, Dorrans (Morrison 65), Thomas (Jara Reyes 27), Odemwingie. Subs not used: Fulop, Mantom, Tamas, Fortune. Booked: Thomas, Jones, Dorrans, Scharner, Cox.
Referee: Mark Halsey(Lancashire).