Jose Mourinho debuts as Tottenham Hotspur manager for their visit to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho is back, 11 months after his last game in official managerial capacity. Mourinho’s first match in-charge of Tottenham Hotspur will be the opening fixture in Gameweek 13 of the 2019-20 Premier League season, as West Ham United play hosts to their fellow Londoners on Saturday.
West Ham United had started the season on a strong note and were firmly in the top half of the table towards the end of September. But, since the shock win over Manchester United, the Hammers have been on a rapid slide, failing to win each of their last six Premier League games, while also being booted out of the Carabao Cup by Oxford United.
Much like West Ham, Tottenham have inexplicably been struggling, albeit pretty much since the start of the season. Bereft of an away Premier League win since January and with just three league victories this term, Spurs find themselves at 14th on the table. The poor run of results cost Mauricio Pochettino his job, with Jose Mourinho replacing the Argentine in the managerial hotseat.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 1-0 win for Tottenham, the kind of result they can well do with at this stage of the current campaign. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
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West Ham United
Manuel Pellegrini does not have many pressing injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Tottenham. On Saturday, the West Ham United manager is only likely to be without two first-team players, with Lukasz Fabianski (thigh) and Manuel Lanzini (shoulder) being long-term absentees.
Pellegrini, though, is set to welcome back a trio of first-team stars, with Jack Wilshere (groin), Michail Antonio (hamstring) and Mark Noble (ankle) available after overcoming their respective complaints.
Among the aforementioned players, West Ham captain Noble is likely to start, pairing up with Declan Rice in the midfield double pivot. Wilshere and Antonio, meanwhile, are only likely to be backup options for West Ham.
At the back, Ryan Fredericks ought to start on the right side of the West Ham defence, with Aaron Cresswell being deployed on the opposite flank. The duo will aim to provide the width in the final third while also remaining diligent in their defensive duties.
Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena will form the central defensive partnership and will have the unenviable task of keeping Harry Kane at bay. In Fabianski’s absence, backup goalkeeper Roberto will continue to deputise for West Ham.
On the other end, there is no looking past Sebastien Haller to be the central striker against Tottenham. Behind Haller, Robert Snodgrass ought to have a free role, with Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson being the two wide men for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Noble, Rice; Yarmolenko, Snodgrass, Anderson; Haller
A new manager brings with himself uncertainty for the incumbent players and their status in the squad. And, with Jose Mourinho set to oversee his maiden game as the Tottenham Hotspur boss, a few changes could be in the offing.
In goal, Paulo Gazzaniga picks himself, owing to Hugo Lloris being a long-term absentee due to an elbow injury. Up ahead in defence, Serge Aurier is likely to get a chance to impress as the right-back while on the left flank, Ben Davies ought to keep hold of his spot.
Toby Alderweireld was a player who Mourinho pursued for a long time while at Manchester United and the Belgian defender should line up at the heart of the Tottenham defence. Alderweireld should be partnered by Davinson Sanchez, with Jan Vertonghen likely to miss out as he waits to make his return from a thigh injury.
Tanguy Ndombele is also battling to shrug off an injury, but the Frenchman, who faces a late fitness test to determine his availability, should start against West Ham. Ndombele will be accompanied by Eric Dier, another player who has previously been the subject of interest from Mourinho.
Mourinho likes his wingers to put in the hard yards off the ball, which means Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min pick themselves in the final third. Dele Alli should reprise the no. 10 role, with Harry Kane leading the line for Tottenham.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Dier, Ndombele; Moura, Alli, Son; Kane
1. Tottenham to win @ 1.70
2. Harry Kane to score anytime @ 1.61
1. Tottenham to win to NIL @ 3.50
- West Ham United are looking to secure successive Premier League wins over Tottenham for the first time since beating them in both matches in the 2013-14 season.
- Tottenham are winless in 12 Premier League games on the road (D3 L9), their third longest such run in the competition after runs of 14 between May 2000-January 2001 (under George Graham) and 13 between March-November 1997 (under Gerry Francis).
- Tottenham have dropped a league-high 12 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season – just two fewer than they dropped in the whole of 2018-19 (14).
- Only against Liverpool (5) has West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini lost more Premier League games than he has versus Tottenham (3).
- Harry Kane has scored 28 goals in 45 Premier League London derbies. Only Thierry Henry (43), Teddy Sheringham (32) and Frank Lampard (32) have netted more goals in such games. Kane averages a goal every 132 minutes in these fixtures, second only to Thierry Henry (one every 114 minutes, minimum 10 goals).
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He might have a decent haul of six Premier League goals in 11 outings so far this season. But, over the course of the season till date, the England captain has looked out of sorts, having often been forced to play out of position in build-up play, either dropping deep or drifting out wide.
With Jose Mourinho now at the helm at Tottenham, Kane ought to be more central as well as the most advanced player on the pitch for Spurs. The change in role, which closely resembles the one he reprises for England, ought to bring the best out of him. And if so, the goal machine should make a return with a vengeance in the weeks to come, starting against West Ham.
West Ham United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham have been miserable in the Premier League for much of 2019 and it was hardly surprising that Mauricio Pochettino got the boot. In comes Jose Mourinho and the newly-appointed manager will be glad to have an away game at West Ham United as his first assignment.
The Hammers have gone off the boil after a solid start to the season and might just be one of the easier teams to play an away match against at present in the Premier League. A number of Tottenham players will have a point to prove as well, and a typically swift turnaround under a new gaffer could be in the offing. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Tottenham.