Spurs’ title challenge has now clicked into fourth gears they moved to within six points of leaders City after Defoe scored what proved to be the winning goal just after the hour spinning in the penalty area to fire the ball past Ben Foster and break the Baggies resistance. It was the home side’s third win in five games and their first of a year that could prove to be very exciting for the clubs supporters. Abion boss Roy Hodgson has a different set of goals for 2012 with keeping his side in the top flight the main objective and his decision to adopt a rigid 4-5-1 formation in North London proved a shrewd one as they frustrated the hosts for 63 minutes. Their preference to play on the break carved Tottenham open on a few occasions as they dealt with a usually dynamic attack with ease until Defoe struck the winner.
After scoring in their previous 17 matches Hodgson’s plan to cut out Spurs’ attacking threat was an astute tactical ploy that demonstrated the tactical sharpness the 64-year-old still possesses. Whilst his side sacrificed their attacking intentions to thwart the home side they defended superbly with Craig Dawson putting in an admirable shift despite his tender years. In fact the Baggies reduced their hosts to just one clear cut opportunity in the first forty five minutes as Redknapp’s side failed to take advantage of the 10 corners they won before the break. The chance they did manage to create was typical of their usual playing style with Gareth Bale speeding down the left before crossing for Rafael Van Der Vaart who saw his cute flick turned away at the near post by Foster. Something special was needed to break the deadlock after half time and Defoe would be the man to provide it just after the hour mark.
Before that the England striker had been quiet and had only threatened the Albion goal with a tame back heel that went wide of Fosters goal but he wouldn’t waste the next chance that was presented to him. Van Der Vaart flashed the ball out to Bale on the left who then found Defoe on the edge of the six yard box with the diminutive striker doing brilliantly to turn four defenders and poke the ball home as relief swept around White Hart Lane. The visitors tried to find themselves an equaliser late on but didn’t have enough in their locker to trouble a Tottenham defence that was stood firm. Injuries to William Gallas and Jake Livermore soured the victory that will prove crucial as they cut the gap on the two Manchester clubs at the top.