West Ham will face yet another difficult match as they take on Tottenham this weekend. Spurs are in high flying form after ruthlessly doing away with Arsenal last weekend. Goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli put St. Totteringham’s day celebrations on hold for this season. West Ham, meanwhile, are in the middle of an indifferent run of form. Two scoreless draws have featured defensive improvement but offensive ineptitude.
It’s another London derby for West Ham, in a season of disappointing local results. The Irons have already lost twice to Arsenal and Chelsea, while earlier in the season, Tottenham won 3-2. The game, played in November was a wild back and forth affair. Michail Antonio scored to put West Ham a goal up, however Harry Winks, on his full Premier League debut, equalized early in the second half. In the seventieth minute, Manuel Lanzini scored a penalty to put the Irons up again. With a minute left in stoppage time, West Ham still led, but two rapid fire Harry Kane goals flipped the result entirely.
Tottenham are in outrageously good form this season. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have been imperious in defense, while Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier help to form a strong midfield. While Danny Rose is out injured, and Kyle Walker is reportedly eyeing a move away, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier are both extremely talented deputies.
While their defense is undoubtedly impressive, Tottenham’s title charge has been driven by a high powered offense. Christian Eriksen is in the middle of another impressive season, while Dele Alli and Heung-min Son are each on career high 19 goal totals. It’s a devastating attacking three with pace, fluidity and clinical finishing.
Of course, at the point of Tottenham’s attack is Harry Kane. It’s difficult to describe the incredible rise of Kane. In 2014, he was a benchwarmer for Leicester. Now, he’s a world class player and one of the best strikers in the Premier League. Kane has an incredible record of scoring in London Derbies, and it will take an incredible effort for West Ham to keep him off the scoresheet.
Slaven Bilic stated that Andy Carroll might return for this match. This is welcome news for West Ham fans, who may be spared yet another ineffective performance from Jonathan Calleri. If Carroll is in fact fit to start, he will provide a bit of goalscoring strength to an ineffective attacking lineup that hasn’t scored in his absence.
Andre Ayew and Manuel Lanzini have been struggling in the attacking midfield spots, but both deserve to start ahead of the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Sofiane Feghouli. Ayew has been scoring on and off over the last couple of months, while Lanzini is one of the better performers on offense this season.
Playing with a back three over the past weeks, West Ham have been lining up with only two players in midfield. One of these has been Havard Nordtveit, who has stepped up his performances recently. Nordtveit has been a crucial part of the two straight clean sheets, and his role will be vital against Tottenham’s star studded midfield.
Alongside Nordtveit, Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble will compete with Edimilson Fernandes for a starting role. As Fernandes might be started in the right wing back position, the battle is between Noble and Kouyate. Against a club with two strong midfielders in Dier and Wanyama, the athleticism of Kouyate is probably the preferable option.
After two games with a back five, West Ham’s porous defense has become impressively solid. While there are still dangerous mistakes, things have looked improved. Against Tottenham, Reid, Fonte and Collins will have an extremely tough job. There can be no doubt, Tottenham will spend most of the game attacking.
Behind the trio of centre backs, Adrian has earned back the starting position in goal. The Spaniard has at times looked shaky, but two clean sheets and a number of good saves ensures that he will start again.
The wingback positions will prove interesting. Sam Byram, Edimilson Fernandes, Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku are all fit. Against Tottenham, the most defensive pair, Cresswell and Byram will probably start. The two have struggled for form this season, but Bilic has shown plenty of trust in both players.
Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Tottenham
West Ham have looked better lately, but Tottenham are arguably the most on form side in the Premier League. Harry Kane seems to score every time he plays West Ham, and his supporting cast are highly motivated by the ongoing title charge. It’s difficult to be very optimistic for this match.