WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
- Goals: Harry Kane (£11.0m)
- Assists: Matt Doherty (£5.8m)
- Bonus: Kane, Doherty x3, Sergio Reguilon (£5.6m) x1
Harry Kane’s (£11.0m) owners will remember his late header that briefly sent Tottenham Hotspur top of the table but it was an otherwise forgettable match at the Hawthorns that had looked destined for 0-0 mediocrity.
Spurs were unconvincing in this Sunday lunchtime clash – a combination of tiredness from their midweek Europa League trip to Bulgaria and a resilient West Brom who were unlucky to have a point cruelly snatched away.
Reflecting on the game, Jose Mourinho said:
It was one of those matches with all the ingredients to lose a couple of points – difficult opponents, they want to stop you, they analyse you, they see where you are strong, they try to close every possible door, and they did it.
Kane was quiet but all he needed was an 88th-minute cross by Matt Doherty (£5.8m), rising to head the Irishman’s delivery home.
That was the England striker’s eighth goal from as many matches against the Baggies and his 150th Premier League strike overall, maintaining Spurs’ 100% away record.
KANE IS ABLE
Over two million FPL managers captained Kane this week, no doubt expecting another haul after Spurs’ previous three away wins produced a combined 12-3 score. But things were much tougher here against a side fighting to escape the relegation zone.
For all the comments about Kane essentially playing as a midfielder, he still provides the goals to go alongside his new-found creativity. The two assists of last season have already been eclipsed by eight this time and he entered the weekend with a number of chances created (14) and big chances created (9) far higher than the next best from a forward.
Similar to how Roberto Firmino (£9.2m) acts like a false nine for Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) and Sadio Mane (£12.0m) to play as two forwards, Kane was seemingly sitting deep for a Son Heung-min (£9.6m) and Gareth Bale (£9.5m) strike force. Yet it is the England captain who takes home the points, while Son disappointed many by not continuing his streak of double-digit away hauls.
SON STOPS SHINING
Clearly, it isn’t maintainable to get 24, 18 or 11 points every time but Son missed a huge chance in the first half. Put through by Tanguy Ndombele (£5.9m), Son seemed hesitant to pull the trigger as West Brom defenders sprinted back to catch up. He eventually dug out a shot but it missed.
A second successive blank will concern his 60% ownership, especially considering the fixture swing that now awaits Jose Mourinho’s side.
Their first six games after the international break include meetings with Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester City. In a classic FPL debate about form versus fixtures, what will the many who have doubled up on both Kane and Son do about this difficult run? Particularly when premium assets at Manchester City and Manchester United are about to begin a kind run.
Neither player is at fault, as they sit atop the FPL game as highest scorers so far. They have accumulated 15 goals and 10 assists between them from only eight matches – truly phenomenal numbers. In a crazy season which has produced huge shocks, great comebacks, many goals and little sense, perhaps it is too logical to assume that Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m), Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) or Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) are the way forward.
The team news was headlined by Bale starting his first league match since returning to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid. Against Brighton, he came off the bench to score a late winner – such drama is becoming a habit in recent weeks, replacing the heavy wins of before – and was deemed ready to form a fearsome front three alongside Kane and Son. In truth, he was ineffective, almost reaching a cross early in the second half but producing nothing else.
REGUILON CONTINUES TO ATTACK
Only left-back Sergio Reguilon (£5.6m) was providing any attacking threat as the match dragged on. Long-range shots in the 59th minute were saved and then blazed over, with a later effort being blocked into the path of Giovani Lo Celso (£6.9m). Had the substitute scored, it would have been Reguilon’s third assist from five league appearances.
In addition to a clean sheet, Reguilon certainly passed the eye test – crossing for Carlos Vinicius’ (£7.0m) low left-footed shot that produced a wonderful save from Sam Johnstone (£4.5m). And yet it was Doherty on the other flank who provided Kane’s assist.
The £15m signing from Wolves was initially heavily-backed by the FPL community but has gradually been abandoned, dropping twice in price because he had registered no attacking returns and was rotated twice with Serge Aurier (£5.2m).
In his programme notes, the under-pressure Slaven Bilic demanded that his players be “more streetwise, more mature and dirty in the game”. He got what he asked for, with West Brom arguably the better side for most of the match.
The Baggies boss said after full-time:
My message to the players was that this has to be our standard now. We have to perform like this in every minute of every game as a minimum. It’s really difficult to take confidence from a defeat because the best way to get confidence is to win games and climb up the league. But you can also get confidence from performances and today was an example of that.
Bilic was forced into making changes to his side after Matheus Pereira (£5.9m) and Branislav Ivanovic (£4.5m) tested positive for coronavirus. He used this opportunity to switch systems, going for a 5-4-1 wing-back formation with the returning Kyle Bartley (£4.5m) and Dara O’Shea (£4.3m) featuring at centre-half.
Karlan Grant (£5.9m) somehow missed a free header from six yards after a brilliant Darnell Furlong (£4.5m) cross, before a teasing Callum Robinson (£5.5m) delivery dropped over Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) and was headed off the line by Eric Dier (£4.9m). The second half saw Conor Gallagher (£5.5m) hit the post from distance and Furlong’s header force an acrobatic save from Lloris.
However, they are still without a win. Apart from back-up goalkeeper David Button (£4.0m), no West Brom player has ownership above 2%. Their players are relatively untouched but, if looking for a differential, it might be worth considering that their next home games are against Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Leeds.
The Baggies have been better at the back of late than they have going forward and Johnstone is one of the cheapest starting goalkeepers out there, sitting third for saves among top-flight shot-stoppers.
Given Aston Villa’s favourable schedule, Emiliano Martinez (£4.8m) will, however, remain the go-to option for many.
West Bromwich Albion XI (5-4-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Bartley, Ajayi, O’Shea, Townsend; Krovinovic, Livermore (Edwards 89′), Gallagher, Robinson (Diangana 67′); Grant (Phillips 84′).
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-3-3): Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Lo Celso 64′), Sissoko (Carlos Vinicius 79′); Bale (Lucas Moura 78′), Son, Kane.
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 8
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Burnley
- Southampton 2-0 Newcastle United
- Everton 1-3 Manchester United
- Crystal Palace 4-1 Leeds United
- Chelsea 4-1 Sheffield United
- West Ham United 1-0 Fulham
- West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Leicester City 1-0 Wolves
- Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
- Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa