Premier League | Upton Park | Sat 16 Aug | 3pm
The “must not lose” London derby.
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 3-2 Sampdoria (F)
- Malaga 2-0 West Ham (F)
- Schalke 0-0p West Ham (F)
- Sydney 3-1 West Ham (F)
- W Phoenix 2-1 West Ham (F)
- Spurs 2-1 Schalke (F)
- Celtic 1-6 Spurs (F)
- Chicago Fire 0-2 Spurs (F)
- Toronto 2-3 Spurs (F)
- Seattle Sounders 3-3 Spurs (F)
“It’s happening again, it’s happening again… Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happening again” sang the West Ham faithful with unbridled glee in May this year. For the third time on the bounce, the Hammers were getting one over on their north London rivals and weren’t they just loving every minute of it.
At White Hart Lane it’s a clean slate and a fresh gaffer tap dancing on the Daniel Levy trapdoor in the hope his entertaining repartee will keep hands off that big red ‘OPEN’ button.
Websites have been rattling with the news that Mauricio Pochettino was willing to listen to offers for around 11 of his first team squad with a view to shipping out at least five. Spurs are still very much a club in transition – a position they’ll continue to find themselves in if Levy keeps dispensing with people before they’ve started.
While Sam Allardyce didn’t exactly get a stay of execution at the end of last season, he was forced to publicly state West Ham will play more attractive football this term. With a treatment room that’s already getting busy and his new star signing not ready for match action, he could find sexy football a tall order against a Spurs side who will have new-found impetus under the hard-working Pochettino who himself knows plenty about playing fancy football.
That said, this has all the hallmarks of an opening day stalemate brought on by the sheer bloody weight of not losing.
That said, Spurs will definitely, definitely not want to stroke out to West Ham four times on the trot. That would do a good job of edging Levy’s hand a touch closer to that ‘OPEN’ button. Dance, Mauricio… DANCE!
Sweet Christ, when will Andy Carroll return?! It’s been said before by FFT staffers – the lad’s a Geordie. We’ve read Viz. They’re nails, right? Without Carroll and with big summer signing Enner Valencia still a fortnight away from match fitness, West Ham’s go-to striker Carlton Cole is likely to start.
The biggest question mark over Spurs’ selection is who’ll win the race for the playmaker role. Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen have both been used in pre-season but who will get the nod in the middle. Our bet is Eriksen down the middle and Lamela out wide on the left for this game. One would like to think the Argentine will get a better showing this season – players don’t just get crap overnight.
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen (Spurs)
The Dane’s last two away games saw him lining up on the left but his ability to drift inside and do damage creatively is clear. Moving him centrally could have a huge impact, giving him the opportunity to play strikers in through the middle while giving Pochettino’s high intensity possession football a proper cutting edge. The key challenge will be making sure the front-line keep working hard to create openings for Eriksen. Adebayor will need to bring his hustle and bustle to bash a route through the West Ham back-line.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 2-0 Spurs (PL, May 14)
- Spurs 1-2 W Ham (LC, Dec 13)
- Spurs 0-3 W Ham (PL, Oct 13)
- W Ham 2-3 Spurs (PL, Feb 13)
- Spurs 3-1 W Ham (PL, Nov 12)
At this time of year, there is plenty of goodwill kicking about. Unrealistic optimism abounds in the warm sunshine of a Saturday afternoon in August. Sadly for both these managers, their teams happen to be facing each other and at 4.45pm either fanbase could turn nasty after a poor showing.
One has to feel for Allardyce, who is yet again without the crocked Andy Carroll. That said, fans will expect him to have learned the lessons of last season and have a workable Plan B ready to go.
Pochettino has time on his side… for now. He’s still building his team and is yet to test his players and tactics in the cut-and-thrust reality of the Premier League. Win, lose or draw he will learn plenty from this game.
Facts and figures
- Spurs have won just 4 of their last 16 opening weekend fixtures in the Premier League (D4 L8).
- West Ham posted the worst shooting accuracy in the 2013/14 Premier League, hitting the target with just 37% of their attempts on goal.
- Tottenham won 10 Premier League away games in 2013-14, only one team (Arsenal, 11) had recorded more (four other teams won 10).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Spurs to give their recent claret and blue duck a swift kick in the knackers with a 2-1 away win.