Tottenham’s troubles against defensive teams resurfaced as they were held to a damaging 1-1 draw against managerless West Bromwich Albion at Wembley on Saturday.
After complaining this week that his team had struggled to break down teams that defend deep, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was frustrated again as lowly West Brom held on.
They took a surprise early lead through Salomon Rondon before Harry Kane gained a point for Spurs with an instinctive near-post finish in the 74th minute.
It was the Baggies, led by caretaker boss Gary Megson in the first match following Tony Pulis’s sacking, who could easily have claimed all three points as Hal Robson-Kanu missed a fine chance at the end.
Pochettino’s men are some way off the title pace and now sit 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, who visit Huddersfield on Sunday.
West Brom showed the spirit needed to lift them away from the drop zone and with upcoming matches against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Swansea, whoever takes charge at the Hawthorns will have reason for cautious optimism.
Tottenham had restored their pride following their derby defeat at Arsenal with a fine comeback victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
West Brom were on a 10-match winless run, yet it was Spurs who started poorly as the Baggies took the lead after just four minutes.
Ben Davies’s throw to Dele Alli was difficult to control and Alli’s England colleague Jake Livermore was quick to pounce.
Livermore’s perfectly weighted through-ball picked out Rondon.
Davinson Sanchez tried to challenge but bounced off Rondon’s muscular frame and the Venezuelan’s well-placed effort deceived the stranded Hugo Lloris and trickled into the bottom corner for his second Premier League goal of the season.
– Miles better –
Alan Pardew, sacked by Crystal Palace in December 2016, has been heavily linked to the position, but the Baggies’ first half display would have done Megson’s prospects no harm.
West Brom looked miles better than the team that tamely rolled over during the 4-0 home defeat against Chelsea last week to seal Pulis’ fate.
The visitors looked fresh and Christian Eriksen, Kane and Son Heung-Min were reduced to shots from distance with Ben Foster in goal rarely troubled.
Son’s deflected strike on 45 minutes that looped on to the roof of the net was the closest Spurs came in the first 45 minutes.
Despite 70 per cent possession in the first half, Pochettino’s men lacked guile and the forward movement was too slow.
On came Fernando Llorente, who is yet to score for Spurs following his move from Swansea, while Mousa Dembele added extra thrust in midfield.
Tottenham poured forward and the equaliser arrived on 74 minutes.
Kieran Trippier and Alli doubled up on the right and as Alli crossed, Kane’s movement to the near post wasn’t tracked.
His instinctive finish from close range went through the legs of Foster for his 10th Premier League goal this season.
Spurs though couldn’t find a winner and were grateful at the end that Robson-Kanu failed to connect to Matt Phillips’ cross deep in stoppage-time.