Odemwingie's firepower leaves Tottenham tired and outgunned
Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Bromwich Albion 2
Monday 25 April 2011
Harry Redknapp may face a struggle keeping hold of his most influential players if Tottenham fail to clinch a Champions League berth. Roy Hodgson could have a similar problem with striker Peter Odemwingie, even if his team continue their strong finish to the season.
A £2.5m summer buy from Lokomotiv Moscow, Odemwingie was the game's outstanding player at White Hart Lane, even if the goal of the game was scored by the substitute Simon Cox nine minutes from time. Odemwingie put West Bromwich Albion in front after five minutes, registering his 13th in the Premier League this season, and gave Spurs such problems throughout that Cox was all but talking up his chances of making his name with a bigger club.
"He has been an absolute revelation for us this year with the goals that he's brought," said Cox, who was almost sent out on loan last month. "With four games to go he can only keep going up. He's got two terrific feet, very good pace and it makes him a feared player. I think had he been at a place like Spurs he probably would have been up there with top goalscorers in the League.
"If he keeps doing that, inevitably the big boys will come sniffing for him, but our chairman's no mug – he'll try and keep him for as long as he can. And he's under contract so it's going to have to be a hefty price tag to tear him away."
Redknapp maintains he will not entertain selling any of his best players, regardless of whether Spurs lose out on a Champions League place. "Absolutely not, we're building something here," he said.
The Tottenham manager remains characteristically chipper, despite the nagging fear Spurs might fall short of the expectations he has done much to raise.
His opposite number, Hodgson, knows all about that after his brief spell at Liverpool. Now, the West Brom manager cuts a relaxed figure, aware that his employers will be happy with mere survival following the dismissal of Roberto di Matteo in February.
"I think we've got to keep pitching it that it would be an achievement if we don't go down," he said. "We were on a terrible run. It was a real plummet towards the Championship. People then said when we went up to 11th that we could kick on from there. But I told them I'm not the slightest bit interested in 'kicking on' this season. Even if we stay up on goal difference, that will do for me."
Albion reached the 40-point mark in some style, Cox curling the ball above and beyond Heurelho Gomes to peg back Spurs who had edged ahead through goals by Roman Pavlyuchenko in the first half and Jermain Defoe in the second. Did he mean it?
"It was meant all day," said the striker, who had only been on the field for five minutes. "It was just one of those things, I couldn't see a pass on so I just thought, 'Oh, go for the far corner', and it went in, so I was happy."
Spurs' frustration as they continue to haemorrhage points is clear, but at least they have Defoe back among the goals. The England striker scored only his third in a season disrupted by injury, beating Scott Carson when Abdoulaye Méïté backed off and gave him a shooting chance 25 yards out. It was his 100th in the Premier League for Spurs, although there was no sign of the '100-up' T-shirt which he had worn, prematurely, in the game against West Ham last month.
"It has been on my mind," said Defoe, who had spoken to the striking coach Les Ferdinand the previous day. "He knows what I'm like, even in training I want to score. He just said for me to be myself." And the T-shirt? "It's in the boot of the car. I didn't want to tempt fate this time," he said.
Cox ensured it was an unwanted fate for Spurs, his goal resulting in an eighth home draw for them in the league. Hodgson had told his players Spurs would tire following their draining 3-3 draw at home to Arsenal the previous Wednesday and so it proved.
They will need to go some now to raise themselves and edge out Manchester City.
Scorers: Tottenham Pavlyuchenko 27, Defoe 66 West Bromwich Odemwingie 5, Cox 81 Substitutes: Tottenham Sandro 7 (Assou-Ekotto, 5), Lennon 6 (Huddlestone, 62), Crouch (Pavlyuchenko, 87). West Bromwich Jara 6 (Reid 44), Morrison 6 (Thomas, 70), Cox (Scharner, 77). Booked: Tottenham Dawson. WBA Scharner. Man of match Odemwingie. Match rating 8/10. Possession Tottenham 52% WBA 48%. Attempts on target Tott'm 9 WBA 4.
Referee S Attwell (Warwickshire) Att 36,160.
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