West Brom Preview: Back To Life

The Premier League returns this weekend with the trip to West Brom. After the international break tested the limits of our sanity, kick-off can’t come around quick enough.

Team news isn’t too bad. Harry Kane, as we know, won’t be back for a few weeks yet. It looks like he is being readied for the north London derby at the start of next month. The genuine injury concern is for Moussa Dembele. No sooner has he recovered from his hamstring problem than he gets stamped on playing for Belgium. It never rains when it pours.

The biggest question is who starts up front. Vincent Janssen is undoubtedly a good player but Son Heung-min is in the goalscoring form of his life. Or certainly since he moved to White Hart Lane. It seems a tough choice but with Eriksen, Alli and Sissoko in decent form, it’s hard to see any other choice but to choice between the two.

Some may be surprised by the choice of Sissoko but it’s an away game and we need more of a presence than Son can give by playing on the right side of midfield, no matter how advanced the role.

Albion are a typical Pulis side, hard-working and resolutely mid-table. And knowing that we have a trip to Leverkusen next week. That’s the wildcard in all of this and one Poch is acutely aware of.

For that reason, even if Dembele finds himself passing a fitness test, it’s worth holding off. That may be Janssen’s saving grace as well. If Poch thinks two games in a short space of time is too much after the international break, Son may not feature tomorrow. Left to the player, the choice would be obvious.

It’s a tricky match to judge. We haven’t lost at the Hawthorns since 2008 and there’s no reason to think we won’t take three points tomorrow. Not just by turning up, but using the same formula as before: fast start, constant pressing and generally not being Spurs of yesteryear.

But – there’s always a but – things can go wrong and we need to be ready to adapt, to keep our focus. It’s a point Victor Wanyama made: “‘We just want to go to every game, get positive results and see from there.” One which the manager reinforced in his press conference.

Poch is keen to play down the title contenders tag at present. He rightly pointed out that nobody expected Leicester to last the pace at this point last season; we were all waiting – and left waiting – for them to fall by the wayside. They didn’t but the pressure got to us last year and having it start now might be more beneficial in the long run. If the players get used to it now, there is unlikely to be the same problem as last season when we blew up spectacularly.

It’s hard to tell them that though. If we hit a poor run of form and slip to fifth, the manager and players look complete muppets. Perhaps that’s the incentive for them to keep their focus and concentration? Professional pride and all that.

Tomorrow will give us the answers.

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