West Bromwich: Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham stars that West Bromwich Albion could pose a bigger threat to their unbeaten start to the Premier League season than leaders Manchester City.
Pochettino’s side signed off before the international break with an impressive 2-0 win over City at White Hart Lane.
That had been a much-anticipated clash between the top two teams in the table, with Spurs ending City’s unbeaten start to keep their own intact.
Pochettino knows his team will be the favourites to come out on top in Saturday’s less glamorous trip to the Hawthorns however, and the Tottenham boss tried to guard against any complacency as he underlined Albion’s qualities.
“Now we must be clever and we need to understand that it will be a tough game, maybe more difficult than Manchester City,” he said.
“If we’re not focused, or if we don’t play with the same intensity, the same passion we will suffer a lot against a team that is very physical and strong.
“In the Premier League you can never play 80 or 70 per cent of your capacity, you always need to be 100 per cent.”
Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele is unlikely to feature however following the recurrence of a foot injury in training.
The Belgian was forced to come home early from international duty last week after his left foot was trodden on in training.
Dembele suffered a similar injury against Everton in August last year and also missed Tottenham’s first four matches of the season through suspension before limping off with a hamstring injury against Sunderland in September.
“He had a minor problem in his hamstring against Sunderland,” Pochettino said. “Then it was good but he got a knock in his foot in training — an old problem — and now he’s recovering from that.
“It’s minor but when he touches the ball, it’s painful.”
Tottenham striker Harry Kane remains sidelined by the ankle injury he sustained in the Sunderland match last month.
“Next week we hope he’ll be training on the pitch,” Pochettino said. “Not with the group, but we’re happy.”
West Brom enter the game on a three-match unbeaten run that has quietened much of the speculation about the immediate future of head coach Tony Pulis.
The Welshman’s long-term intentions are still unclear, however, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.
But he will take on Tottenham with record signing Nacer Chadli, who moved from White Hart Lane in the close-season, in excellent form after scoring three times in his first four appearances.
Pulis has also tied midfielder Craig Gardner to a new two-year deal this week.
“It’s brilliant for me to extend my contract, especially at a time when the club are bringing in some top players,” Gardner said.
“This is a great family club and the lads are brilliant to play with.
“I just want to keep playing Premier League football alongside some top players that can hopefully help us climb into the top 10.”
A former Aston Villa and Birmingham City midfielder, Gardner joined the Baggies on a free transfer in 2014.
He has made 81 appearances for the club, scoring six goals.