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We’re not saying footballers aren’t the brightest sparks in the world but Gareth Bale has been the best player in the Premier League this season much in the same way that Ryan Giggs was two seasons ago. In that he hasn’t been. He hasn’t even been the best player at Spurs this season but because professional footballers apparently only watch Champions League football, read the Sun newspaper and form their opinions based on what they saw on Soccer AM last Saturday, Astroboy is deemed the player of the year. Yet he only came second in the young player of the year category. Go figure.
Spurious, media-driven popularity contests aside, Spurs played their part in quite an entertaining affair on Wednesday night which didn’t really do much good for anyone in north London, except the Man United fans. With Chelsea looking to be hitting some form and Spurs having an especially tricky run-in, the visit of West Brom is one of those must-win games, as opposed to those win-if-you-want-but-it’s totally-up-to-you games and is about as easy as things are going to get between now and the end of the season. Under Roy Hodgson, the Baggies have stopped trying to play exciting, expansive football and instead focused on getting results. Last week’s defeat snapped a seven game unbeaten run which included beating Liverpool, drawing with Arsenal and two away wins. That’s right, a Hodgson side winning two consecutive away games. Peter Odemwengie’s form has been a highlight and against a generous Tottenham backline he’s certainly worth considering at 7/1 to score first and 2/1 to score anytime. Of his twelve league goals this season, six of them have been the first goal of the game.
After the exciting showing against Arsenal, this is just the kind of game you expect Spurs to disappoint in. They shouldn’t and if they play with the same commitment and attacking verve as they did midweek then they’re a lock at 3/5 to win. West Brom won’t be as adventurous as Arsenal though, so Redknapp’s side won’t find the same wide open spaces behind their backline and it’s in games like this that their lack of a top drawer striker can be exposed. Rafael Van Der Vaart awoke from his recent hibernation for the derby but it will be little surprise if he goes right back to sleep against the less glamorous Baggies.
Spurs should win but something is telling me to back the draw at 11/4. Maybe even stick a cheeky bet on the away win at 5/1, just in case.