Tottenham Hotspur can’t help but play out of the back. It’s an addiction; for better or worse. Opponents who have made Spurs uncomfortable have been the ones pressing Huge Lloris to make a bad pass. You could put the formation for Spurs in stone coming out of their defensive third. The center backs, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, will go out to Hugo’s flanks, while Eric Dier or Victor Wanyama will set themselves up at the top of the box. They form a diamond they perfect religiously during practice. During the FA Cup semifinal, Chelsea exploited that diamond and forced Spurs to play 50/50 balls in the midfield, instead of comfortably building up play. If West Ham can pressure the defensive diamond and force an error from Hugo Lloris or Eric Dier, they can neutralize Spurs main plan of attack.
Once widely considered to be the best full back pair in the Premier League, the English duo will be a non-factor against West Ham Friday. Unfortunately for Spurs, Danny’s been out for a few months. While he’s been training lately with first team, he’s still doubtful for Friday’s match. Substitute Ben Davies has been a serviceable replacement and had a wonderful showing in last week’s North London derby against the young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, pairing with Son to utterly confuse Arsenal’s defense.
More importantly is the recent rumor of Kyle Walker’s fallout with manager Mauricio Pochettino. It seems it’s not actually all rainbows and sunshine for the team from North London. Speculation would have us believe Walker is ready to leave Spurs for more money in Spain, Germany, or even Manchester City. With that in mind, Pochettino has been starting the young Kieran Trippier. Much like Walker, Trippier is a speedy wing back who loves to find himself in attacking positions. He is also susceptible to the counter, making this a wonderful matchup for Manuel Lanzini to wreak havoc.
No, I’m not saying Christian Eriksen is a weakness, but Spurs overreliance on his ability to create might be. He’s been by far the best creator in the league this year and Spurs fans are afraid of the Barcelona rumblings that are just beginning to brew. However, the toughest matches for Spurs this year have always seen Eriksen neutralized.
Take away the league’s leading chance creator and you’ll find Spurs struggle to find an outlet. To be fair, the individual ability of Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli can overcome a bad Eriksen match. But if West Ham is to have a chance of an upset, Eriksen needs to be silenced.
North London Blue
For the first time in over two decades, Tottenham will have the edge over rivals, Arsenal. Of course, this is far more important to the fans than to the actual squad. However, coming off an emotional win in White Hart Lane’s last London derby might have instilled a lingering hangover. Throw in West Ham United’s ability to play spoiler and we might have an upset in the making. There aren’t many who believe, including Spurs fans, that catching up to Chelsea is feasible at this stage. Any dropped points will surely solidify that sentiment. If that isn’t motivation for West Ham United, I don’t know what is.