WEST HAM UNITED
White Hart Lane, London
October 06, 2013; 16:00 BST
Tottenham Hotspur host West Ham United at White Hart Lane in what promises to be an intriguing London derby. Spurs have had the upper hand on this fixture, winning four of the last six matches between these two clubs. West Ham’s last victory over their neighbours came back in 2010 when Frédéric Piquionne scored the winner. White Hart Lane hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Hammers.
The home side have made a brilliant start to their season after a busy summer in the transfer market. They are currently third in the Premier League, just two points behind league leaders Arsenal having won four of their opening six matches. In fact Tottenham have lost just once in their last 12 games in all competitions.
Spurs are coming into this game on the back of a comfortable 2-0 win over Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, which put them in control of their Europa League group. In the league, they drew their last game against Chelsea. Despite dominating the first half of the game, Andre Villas-Boas would have been disappointed with his side’s performance in the second half as they allowed Chelsea back into the match.
West Ham on the other hand have made a poor start to their league campaign and are currently 17th in the league – just one point above the relegation zone. After winning their opening match against Cardiff, Sam Allardyce’s men have collected just two points in their next five league games.
The Hammers are coming into this match on the back of a 1-0 defeat against Hull City as Robbie Brady scored the winner from the spot for the away side.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Andre Villas-Boas has a few injury concerns to contend with ahead of this fixture. Etienne Capoue and Aaron Lennon are still out of contention due to injuries, while Younes Kaboul joined that list after picking up an injury in the match against Anzhi. Danny Rose is close to returning to action, but the left back is unlikely to be risked ahead the big international break. Emmanuel Adebayor is training with the first team now, but is unlikely to play any part in this game.
The Tottenham manager picked a completely different team for their Europa League match, which means he will field the line-up he used against Chelsea in his last league game. The likes of Defoe, Lamela, Chadli, Holtby and Sandro will drop back to the bench.
Defensively Spurs have been the best team in the league – statistically. They have conceded just twice in six matches so far. The partnership of Dawson and Vertonghen is flourishing at the back with the midfield providing enough cover for them. The introduction of Eriksen in the starting line-up has resolved their lack of creativity in the middle of the park, and the former Ajax man is already looking like a bargain.
Eriksen seemed to have developed a telepathic connection with Soldado and Sigurdsson in attack. The movement of the trio resulted in another goal for Spurs against Chelsea, like they did against Norwich. Sigurdsson has been in fine form this season and seemed to have added goals to his game; his diagonal runs into the box are tough for the defenders to pick out and this could prove to be a big season for him. Townsend on the other hand has developed immensely and is a constant threat down the right wing. He is capable of taking on defenders and loves cutting in to his left foot. With a solid defence at the back and an ever improving attack, Tottenham look ready to upset the established order at the top.
Probable Starting Line up [4-2-3-1]: Lloris (GK); Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Dembele, Paulinho; Townsend, Eriksen, Sigurdsson; Soldado
Sam Allardyce has a few injury concerns of his own, but things have improved drastically on that front. Alou Diarra and Andy Carroll remain the long term absentees, but Stewart Downing has returned from his injury and featured against Hull last weekend. The former Liverpool winger is not fit enough to start in this game. Sam Allardyce has also confirmed that Joe Cole will return to the bench against Tottenham, although he isn’t fit enough to start.
Two changes are expected to the line-up that was fielded against Hull City last weekend. Downing will replace Ravel Morrison on the right wing, while Guy Demel will start at the right back. Demel’s inclusion in the side would mean Joey O’Brien will move back to the left back spot replacing Razvan Rat. There is also a possibility of George McCartney making his appearance in the league this season.
The main problem for Sam Allardyce has been the lack of goals, specially away from home. West Ham’s haven’t scored an away goal for six hours now. The absence of Andy Carroll has depleted their attack along with the injury to Joe Cole. Modibo Maiga is yet to open his account this season, and the 26-year-old is likely to lose his place in the side. Mladen Petric, who came on as a sub against Hull, will replace him up front.
With the arrival of Downing in the side, Sam Allardyce has the option to switch to a more attacking 4-1-4-1 formation, with Morrison and Nolan playing through the middle and Diame being dropped to the bench. But the West Ham manager is unlikely to take such a risk against Spurs away from home, which means the Hammers will use the 4-2-3-1 formation. Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing will be the key for them to open up a strong Tottenham defence.
Probable Starting Line-Up [4-2-3-1]: Jaaskelainen [GK]; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, O’Brien; Noble, Diame; Jarvis, Nolan, Downing; Petric
- Spurs have won 15 and lost just two of their last 25 London derbies at home in the Barclays Premier League (D8).
- West Ham have fired just 14 shots on target in the league this season. Spurs surpassed this tally in their third game of 2013-14.
- Just one of the five goals that West Ham conceded in the Premier League this season has come from open play.
- Tottenham have attempted more shots from open play than any other side in the Barclays Premier League this term (69).
- Andros Townsend has attempted more shots (14, excluding blocked) than any other player yet to score in the Premier League this season.
Player To Watch Out For
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Tottenham)
The Icelandic international has been in amazing form this season. He has scored three goals in four starts in the league and could become an important source of goals from the midfield for Spurs. His understanding with Soldado and Eriksen has been amazing and his off the ball movement is a joy to behold. The 24-year-old could continue his goal scoring form against West Ham.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 West Ham
West Ham will look to be organised and make it hard to Tottenham to score. But Spurs are in an amazing run of form and they have too much quality for the Hammers. Moreover, West Ham’s poor record away from home means they are unlikely to cause too many troubles for the Tottenham defence. Expect Spurs to win this match by a comfortable margin.