It was a return to winning ways for Tottenham Hotspur after a miserable three games for the Lilywhites, with Harry Kane back in the lineup and Heung-Min Son back amongst the goals.
The team news was met with shock from Spurs fans and rival fans alike: both Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela were playing, but the attention-grabbing inclusion was Harry Kane, injured a few weeks previously against Liverpool, but back in the side sooner than expected. Mourinho made four changes, while Sam Allardyce made five after his own disappointing defeat midweek.
The game got underway in snowy North London, with Spurs the side looking to make the early punches. Harry Kane’s passing clearly made a difference right from the start, and Lucas looked lively, making an early run through the West Brom defence, before Bartley made the most of a heavy touch round Ajayi.
The first few big chances of the game fell to Harry Kane. The first was a product of some excellent work down the right flank by Erik Lamela, playing the ball through to a surging Serge Aurier (pun intended) despite being on his way to the ground. Aurier played a beautiful square ball across to Harry Kane who, on his left foot, blazed agonisingly wide. The next one was a far bigger chance. Kane was somehow first to a wayward through ball from Tanguy Ndombele, after taking a deflection of a defender, and found himself in acres of space in front of the net. A fully fit Harry Kane is smashing it past the keeper, but his shot could only bobble past the post. Perhaps he was distracted by the tribute to Ronald McDonald that West Brom were wearing.
His ankle seemed to give him issues again minutes later. Not feeling that he could hit it first time, Kane shifted it to his right foot inside the box, before having his rather weak shot blocked by a defender. Another effort was palmed away by Johnstone soon after.
A big chance came from a corner, but neither Aurier’s header or Toby Alderweireld’s strike could beat a desperate defence as Lee Peltier and Robert Snodgrass threw everything at it.
After 45 minutes, West Brom created a big chance. Snodgrass sent a cross over to the back post, where Diagne had drifted away from Davinson Sánchez. His header was a solid one, but Hugo Lloris got behind it at the crucial moment. West Brom were adamant that it had crossed the line, but there was no buzz of the watch. It would have been the ultimate smash-and-grab half from West Brom, but the sides went in at half-time still level.
Heung-Min Son had the first chance of the second half, but his low effort was kicked away by Johnstone. Lamela followed it up with a slalom in the snow that most Olympic skiiers would have been proud of, but he couldn’t find the finish, a right-footed shot (or cross?) going off for a goal kick.
6 minutes later, BOOM! Harry Kane latched onto an incredible through ball from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and slid it past the keeper. He still couldn’t quite hit it with the venom that we’ve come to expect of Tottenham, England and perhaps the world’s best striker, but it was placed with accuracy that more than made up for that.
His class was shown again with a sumptuous touch with his chest, sending Lucas through on the counter. The Brazilian obliged, surging right through the defence and sliding the ball into Heung-Min Son. He’d missed one opportunity today, and that was certainly not happening again. 2-0. Spurs were firmly in the driving seat.
Snodgrass sent a cross over to the back post, where Diagne had drifted away from Davinson Sánchez. His header was a solid one, and this time it was sent past Hugo Lloris, but it was deemed offside. A wake-up call.
At 64 minutes, Erik Lamela did what Erik Lamela does best (no, not making the most of minimal contact from Anthony Martial) and got booked for a lunge on Sam Gallagher.
Lively throughout, Lamela had a pretty good game. Sharp on the ball, dedicated in the challenge before he was replaced by Steven Bergwijn with 20 minutes left to go.
On 82 minutes, Pereira sent a cross over to the back post, where Diagne had drifted away from Davinson Sánchez. His finish was a solid one, but again, his goal was disallowed for offside. To his credit, it looked like very good defending from the Colombian, making sure the offside call would be given through clever use of his body.
16-year-old Dane Scarlett came on for a minute-long cameo, and became the only ever 16-year-old to take part in a Premier League game for Tottenham Hotspur. And that was about it. An uneventful final ten minutes culminated in three points for Tottenham Hotspur, and a thoroughly deserved win.
Attention now goes to an FA Cup clash against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, who we face for the first time since our inability to head the ball in defence cost us points in our first game of the season. Spurs are still in all the cup competitions this season, and it would be lovely if we could keep it that way. Come on you Spurs.