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Tottenham Hotspur

Upton Park, London

                                   August 16, 2014, Saturday, 2:00 GMT

The premier League 2014-15 seasons is to kick off and what better way to start than a local London derby. Tottenham Hotspur travel to Upton Park to face their rivals the Hammers. Tottenham begin yet another season with a new manager in the form of Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton. West Ham on the other hand are a team that doesn’t usually perform too well in the Premier League but have somewhat of a track record in ruining big team’s winning streaks. This game is an open free for all and anyone’s to win.

Team News and Tactics

West Ham

The Hammers have always been a tough side to beat at home and with Sam Allardyce at their Helm has always been a fortress that’s difficult to conquer. Big Sam has a very direct approach to the game, unlike his argentine counterpart, he believes does not believe in a formation with defined roles to each player rather he believes the team should throw everything including the kitchen sink when they attack and park Chelsea’s bus along with their when they defend. However this hasn’t always been the best approach as they finished an average 13th in the previous season. In order to improve this season and ensure he keeps his job Big Sam would require a win over his city rivals Tottenham.

At Goal Adrian San Miguel would be the keeper of choice. Adrian had put up many brave performances in the previous season and would only love to show that he is capable of more this season, there is no Doubt he would be the first Choice keeper. Aaron Cresswell would start on the left side of defense recovering just in time for the game. Central Defense would be occupied by James Tomkins and Winston Reid, the two have looked sharp and quiet comfortable with each other and might pose a problem for Tottenham’s strike force. With Guy Demel and Carl Jenkinson injured the obvious choice at right back would be Joey O’Brien.

Big Sam would also play a 5 man midfield but would be without Matt Jarvis and new signing Enner Valencia. West Ham favorite Mark Noble and new signing Diego Poyet would slot into the deep central midfield roles while Captain Kevin Nolan would play ahead of the two almost as a second striker. Steward Downing would occupy the right side of midfield playing as a reverse winder cutting in and taking shots on goal. On the left side of midfield new signing Mouro Zarate would be given a start, although a striker in trade, Big Sam would use him to play as a narrow left sided winger in place of Diame and ensure he puts his goal scoring ability to use.

With Andy Carroll injured, West Ham would have to rely on tall center forward Carlton Cole to play exactly as Carroll does. The two forwards are almost of the same height and are both quiet power full headers of the ball. However Cole’s work rate is not at par with Carroll and hence would not have as much fire power as they would want. It would be interesting to see how well he combines with Downing and Zarate.

Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino being very similar to AVB is most likely to put forth a 4-2-3-1 formation. However his constant focus on player fitness makes sure his team plays a pressing game and hence making the formation all the more effective and fluid. We witnessed his rise with Southampton, now with a more skilled and larger squad, Pochettino has more options and has an easier task at hand to outdo his previous season’s performance.

The Defense has always been a cause for concern in the Tottenham camp. Usually games ended with them conceding just one more than the number they had scored in the dying minutes of the game. The Argentine manager’s tactical preference as displayed with Southampton is a defensive one and this may work to the benefit of Tottenham. On goal the French captain, Hugo Lloris would take his rightful place. Having been the most consistent player of the Tottenham Squad, Lloris has been let down in the past only due to a shaky defense. However, under Pochettino we are yet to see if the change benefits him on keeping more clean Sheets. Kyle Walker has been ruled out with a pelvic injury which means Kyle Naughton will get the nod and start at right back. Younes Kaboul looked shaky all of last season, however having had a good pre-season would start and might even captain the squad in the absence of Dawson. Jan Vertonghen is yet Tottenham’s best center back and will definitely partner Kaboul in his preferred central role. In the left side of Defense Tottenham have a choice between new signing Ben Davies and Danny Rose. It is more likely that Rose would get a start with his improving performance and Davies yet to acclimatize to his new team.

Capoue the preferred enforcer in the preseason, might be benched for this game due to his minor injury worry against Schalke, hence the beast Sandro might be played instead alongside the efficient German, Lewis Holtby who would play a deep playmaker. The Three Attacking midfield roles would be played by Townsend on the left, Eriksen center and Lamela on the right. Lamela has been extremely impressive in the pre-season and has rubbished all rumors of moving back to Italy. He has promised the Spurs fan a show and is determine to deliver one. Eriksen the wizard of link up play would play the number 10 role contrary to the left sided position he was played under Tim Sherwood. This will enable him to freely drift to either sides of the pitch and we might also witness him more frequently in Goal Scoring positions. Townsend who too has been impressive In the pre-season would be preferred over Lennon. With Adebayor just returning from injury last game, Pochettino would prefer to play Soldado who is fitter of the two as Striker.

Key Facts

  • The two teams have been playing each other since 1898
  • West Ham have beaten Tottenham the both home and away last season
  • Tottenham come into the game from a 2-1 victory over Schalke
  • West Ham come to the game after a 3-2 victory over Sampdoria

Player to Watch

Erik Lamela

Lamela's season of Redemtpion

Lamela’s season of Redemtpion

Having been impressive in the pre-season friendlies and fully acclimatized to the Premier League, Erik Lamela would be the player to watch as he is set to show his critiques and Spurs fan what 30 Million of their money has brought to the club. His pace, dribbling and thunderous left foot might pose a threat to Adrian and West Ham and just might be the key to a Spurs Victory.

Prediction

West Ham 1 – 3 Tottenham

Tottenham clearly have the stronger squad on paper and seem more settled with their new manager coming from their successful pre-season. This positive morale may work their way and earn them a victory. However West Ham has never lost without putting up a good fight. Their captain Nolan has always had the knack of pulling one back and getting his team right back into the game. However even his effort might prove futile against the Tottenham Squad.