Tottenham are set to face-off with West Ham United on Thursday night as both clubs have to play their second Premier League fixture in three days. This has always been a fiercely competitive fixture, with both sets of fans disliking the other and bragging rights will be up for grabs at Wembley. It would be monumental for the visitors to beat Spurs at the national stadium, but both teams could do with the three points. The race for the Champions League is heating up and aside from Manchester City, no team is guaranteed to finish in the top four. Meanwhile, the Hammers are deeply entrenched in the relegation fight and they can no longer afford to go into matches expecting a loss, even against the top-six teams.
The hosts have had a mixed first-half to the season. They have had an excellent Champions League campaign to date, but their form in the Premier League has taken a hit. Mauricio Pochettino will want to improve in the league as the season progresses, but he won’t want to disregard the cup competitions. The FA Cup should be taken seriously this season as this incarnation of Tottenham would benefit from winning a trophy. It will be interesting to see how much he rotates on Thursday with another match on the horizon at the weekend.
There was an initial period of good form from West Ham after the appointment of David Moyes but dropped points against Newcastle United and Bournemouth have seen them fall back into trouble. On Tuesday, they returned to winning ways against West Brom and climbed back out of the relegation zone. They can take some confidence into this match as their best performances have come against teams in the top-six. A win against Chelsea and good performances against Arsenal and Manchester City came after the appointment of Moyes. They won’t be expecting to take any points from the game, but it is well in their capabilities if they deliver a good display.
Dele Alli has been directly involved in six goals in his last six matches in the Premier League.
Aaron Cresswell has now assisted four times for Andy Carroll. The only player that has set up the striker more times in the Premier League is Joey Barton.
The England international has a great record in London derbies and he will be the danger man after finishing 2017 in blistering form. Against West Ham, he has scored seven goals and many of those have been crucial ones. The Hammers are a team that he enjoys facing and he will be relishing the prospect of improving on that record on Thursday. His form in the calendar year of 2017 should be respected, but the next year is going to be even more crucial. The striker is going to compete in the latter stages of the Champions League and go to his first World Cup. There is a great case for Kane being considered world class, but this year will either prove or disprove the argument. In other meetings with top six teams, David Moyes’ men have been resolute and tough to break down. This is why Spurs’ striker will be crucial in determining the result. There may not be many clear-cut chances, which means that he needs to take those that come his way.
The Austrian international was one of the big-name signings made by West Ham last summer and he is beginning to find his form in East London. His performances under Slaven Bilic were average at best, but he has been excellent under David Moyes and a huge danger man heading into this London derby. Arnautovic scored the winner against Chelsea and he will be desperate to make an impact against Tottenham. He came in for a lot of money and he needs to start delivering on a consistent basis. The last few weeks have given him momentum as he has scored five in his last seven Premier League matches, but he needs to push on from here. Tottenham haven’t been convincing at the back without Toby Alderweireld. Arnautovic will be a huge threat on Thursday.
Harry Kane should be fit to start after being benched for the Swansea game due to an illness. Victor Wanyama is in contention for a start, but Mousa Dembele, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld will all miss out.
Diafra Sakho is in contention after suffering with a knock. Michail Antonio is unlikely to play as he continues to struggle with a groin strain. Jose Fonte and Sam Byram remain on the sidelines.
The lack of time between matches can cause teams big problems during the festive period and unpredictable results become a lot more common. Tottenham have the home advantage and that should be enough to see them over the line. Harry Kane had a rest on Tuesday and will be raring to return to the starting eleven. A rested Kane will be a real weapon for the home side. West Ham will be determined and difficult to break down, but it is difficult to see them denying this Spurs team for an entire ninety minutes.
Tottenham 2-0 West Ham United