It’s that time of year again… Tottenham in chase once more and before them lies another trip to their London rivals. If anyone wants to stop a high-flying Spurs it’s us. It’ll be a tough ask but a London derby under the lights could be the perfect motivation for the Hammers. A point is all the Irons need to reach the ‘magic forty’, I’m hoping we see it out in style and break a few lily white hearts in the process!
Since losing to Liverpool, Tottenham have bounced back in style. They’ve won NINE in a row. Formidable form, you could even say… title-winning form (trying not to be sick). I guarantee they won’t be looking forward to playing at the London Stadium, whilst it’s not Upton Park, it will still be full and hostile. If their form on larger pitches like Wembley is anything to go by, the pitch might actually do us some favours for once! Their last-gasp turnaround at White Hart Lane was tough to take, hopefully, revenge is still on the mind for the Irons who won this fixture last season.
The Hammers have managed to steady the ship and steer us closer and closer to safety. Now on thirty-nine points, we should be okay and our fourth consecutive draw would be more than welcomed come Friday night. Our recent 5-4-1 formation has managed to provide us with three clean sheets in four. I think this stat will be vital to our success in this fixture. We have to stop a free-scoring Spurs side with plenty of dangerous players if we are to get a result in this game.
Their scoring record is honestly terrifying. Spurs have scored fourteen goals in five games. It’s taken West Ham twelve fixtures to accumulate the same amount. If not for a stutter around January, Tottenham probably would have caught Chelsea by now, only four points off the leaders. The key to their fantastic form has been the return of Harry Kane to their attacking four in Son, Kane, Eriksen and Dele. The four have managed an impressive 58 goals between them this season. The striker has been a thorn in the side of West Ham sides in the past. Bilic will have to produce a tactical master class to stop him.
It is safe to say that West Ham will stick with the solid 5-4-1 that has been so solid in recent fixtures. Collins and Reid have been formidable in recent games, whilst even Fonte is beginning to find his feet in the back three. Masuaku and Fernandez have impressed out wide and should keep their place. Noble needs to play in this game. He thrives on London derbies such as these and will be a vital leader on the pitch. Despite some recent good form by Havard Nordveit, he is likely to make way with Cheikhou Kouyate playing alongside Mark Noble. Bilic will continue to play Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew out wide. Both have looked terrific of late and will be desperate to get back on the scoresheet. Finally, we should see the return of Andy Carroll, if fit. If not, I really do not wish to Calleri return to the starting eleven. I have often felt sorry for the Argentine, but his recent rabona showed his level of interest here and apparent lack of ability. Fletcher or even Sakho, if fit, would be widely welcomed back to the side.
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ – I’m sure Pochettino will thinking along the same lines this week, the only change may be the return of Danny Rose following a knee problem. Lloris will be looking to get his sixteenth clean sheet of the season in goal. Completing the back four in front will be Trippier, Alderweireld, and Vertonghen. Dier and Wanyama will provide the defensive shield, looking to counter on the larger pitch. As mentioned before, the front four will consist of Eriksen, Dele, Son, and Kane up front.
CM) Noble (C)
GK) Lloris (C)
West Ham 7/1 Draw 15/4 Tottenham 2/5
– Via Paddy Power
This will be an interesting tie. Whilst I should only be able to imagine a Spurs win, something tells me this game could be tight. The larger pitch and hostile atmosphere might hamper Tottenham and lift the Hammers. In the end, though, it really wouldn’t surprise me if another typical late effort by Spurs broke Hammers hearts before the final whistle.
West Ham United 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
(Kane 90’ Pen)