Broadcaster/commentator, Sky Sports/talkSPORT
What can you tell us about West Brom's form?
Nigel: "What they’ve
mastered this season is big home results. In the last couple of months
they’ve beaten Swansea, Watford, Burnley and Hull and that’s 12 points on
the board. They also recently beat Southampton away and that was typical
Tony Pulis, he sprung somewhat of a surprise by starting Hal
Robson-Kanu instead of Salomon Rondon and of course, Robson-Kanu went
and scored the winner! It’s also worth noting that
the recent 1-0 defeats at Chelsea and Arsenal were both down to late
goals (76 and 86 minutes respectively) and they could have easily walked
away with draws from those games. They’ve beaten the teams they need to
beat and going into this weekend’s game at the Lane, they are in a
pretty good position, so why not try to kick on and secure a top 10
place? I covered the game between these teams at The Hawthorns back in October and I must say I thought West Brom deserved a point that day - remember, it was late goal to deny them again."
Below: Tony Pulis with Mauricio Pochettino at The Hawthorns in October
Tony Pulis has built a team that is so tough to beat - what have you made of his time at The Hawthorns?
"It’s two years since Tony Pulis replaced Alan Irvine as manager and
I’ve seen a marked change with West Bromwich Albion. One thing you
always have with Pulis is that you can never, ever question the effort,
desire and passion of the players, they all play for that man. People
like Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans who have played at the highest
level for Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson are digging deep
every game, they all play for Tony Pulis, they work hard for him and he
commands respect around the place. I’ve been at the training ground for
press conferences and you can see there is a good atmosphere. There was a
time at the start of this season where there was criticism of Tony
Pulis’ style of play but what’s happened now is that Pulis, in my
opinion, has more confidence in his players to go on the front foot from
the start of games and play some good football - and they are capable
of that, they are not just a one-dimensional team that parks the bus."
Below: Ben Foster denies Dele Alli at The Hawthorns in October
Who have been the top performers at West Brom so far this season?
"Ben Foster is still a top-notch goalkeeper, in my opinion, every bit
as good as England can call on. He’s bounced back from a long injury
lay-off. Gareth McAuley stands out and for me, he has been one of the
best signings West Brom have made in their modern history, he’s 37 now
and he’s been a model of consistency. Jonny Evans stands out, Matty
Phillips has been a great signing but the return of Chris Brunt and
James Morrison from injury have been like two new signings. I’m also a
huge fan of Salomon Rondon up front. He’s a striker who can play up
there on his own, hold the ball up and score goals and if he had someone
alongside him, I’m sure he’d form a good partnership as well."
Below: Gareth McAuley
How do you think Tony Pulis will approach this game and what have you made of Spurs?
"Maybe the fact that West Brom lost late at Chelsea and Arsenal may
impact on Tony Pulis’ thinking going into this one, perhaps they’ll have
a go. Jonny Evans’ return is a big factor, when he’s out he’s a big
miss for West Brom. Allan Nyom has also been a good signing and if he’s
available, a settled back four has been key for West Brom, with Darren Fletcher
and Claudio Yacob in front of them. Spurs have been great, I think they are
having another tremendous season."
Below: Matt Phillips
Finally, how do you think it will go on Saturday?
Nigel: "I’ll say because of
Spurs’ form and class it will be 2-1 to Spurs, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 1-1 again! What I will also say is that
if Spurs are going to win this game they know they will have to dig deep
and work for it."