Following an embarrassing 4-0 defeat against West Brom in the FA Cup, West Ham United travel 12 miles north to face Tottenham Hotspur as they look to revive their push for a place in European competition next season.
The London derby will have some added spice this time around in light of Emmanuel Adebayor’s failed transfer to West Ham on deadline day of the winter transfer window.
Spurs are currently sixth place in the table, five points ahead of their opponents at the weekend and have only a couple of days to recover from their gruelling 1-1 draw at home against Fiorentina in the Europa League on Thursday night. With the return leg next week and the Capital One Cup Final against Chelsea on March 1st looming on the horizon, Mauricio Pochettino will have to make sure that his side remains fit and their game time is managed accordingly.
After spending Christmas in the top four for the first time since 1985, the Hammers have fallen like dead weight and now find themselves eight points off fourth-placed Southampton with calls from some section of the support asking for Sam Allardyce to be sacked.
The two sides met on the opening day of the season in a feisty contest that saw James Collins and Kyle Naughton pick up red cards at Upton Park before debutant Eric Dier scored the winner in stoppage time.
Spurs have their entire squad fit and available for selection and Pochettino is aware of the importance of rotation. After the draw against Fiorentina, he said, “We need to make decisions because we have a lot of games coming up, six games in 17 days. It’s difficult and we need to rotate, give everyone the possibility to play. It’s not difficult to pick the starting 11; I try to select the best team to win the games.”
West Ham United
Defenders Winston Reid and James Collins look set to return following injuries, which would mean that Cheikhou Kouyate will take his place in midfield. Morgan Amalfitano picked up two yellow cards within the space of a minute against West Brom and will be suspended for the trip to White Hart Lane. Andy Carroll is the only long-term absentee due to a knee injury that will keep him out of action for the rest of the season.
Last five meetings
- 16 Aug 2014 West Ham United 0 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur Premier League
- 03 May 2014 West Ham United 2 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur Premier League
- 18 Dec 2013 Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 2 West Ham United League Cup
- 06 Oct 2013 Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 3 West Ham United Premier League
- 25 Feb 2013 West Ham United 2 – 3 Tottenham Hotspur Premier League
- Spurs average the most tackles per game in the league- 22.3 and commit the third highest fouls 12.7.
- West Ham (11) and Spurs (10) are behind Chelsea (12) with the most goals scored from set-pieces.
- Along with Southampton, West Ham play the most crosses per game in the league (26).
- The 14 headed goals scored by West Ham is the league highest this season.
- West Ham have won just once in their last 8 league games.
- 8 of Spurs’ last 10 Premier League wins have been by a 2-1 scoreline.
- Harry Kane has scored 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches for Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane
Harry Kane’s rise as one of the most complete strikers in the Premier League this season has been nothing short of phenomenal. Dribbling, hold-up play, good in the air and above all his determination to help out defensively, Kane has got it all. He has thrived under Pochettino’s system of pressing from the front and isn’t far away from being handed his first international cap. He is also in the form of his life at the moment; five goals in his last three Premier League games don’t even begin to justify what he brings to Spurs.
Kane will be looking to add to his tally and close down the gap on Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero when he takes the field against the Hammers. With a shot accuracy of almost 60%, Kane averages 2.9 shots per game, which are enough for him to trouble any defence. Having created 17 chances so far this season, he is the best striker in the league right now.
West Ham: Diafra Sakho
Sakho is West Ham’s leading scorer with eight goals in the league and in the absence of Andy Carroll and the never ending drought of Enner Valencia, who hasn’t scored since November 1; the Hammers will be relying on the Senegal international to provide them with something to cheer at White Hart Lane.
Along with Valencia and West Ham in general, Sakho enjoyed a remarkable start to the season but his form has withered of late. However, he remains a threat from crosses and set-pieces in general and that’s where West Ham should be targeting Spurs come Sunday. Also he will be their likely outlet on the break and will need to work hard to exploit the channels.
West Ham have found it tough to score goals of late and are on their worst run of the season. It doesn’t look like changing at White Hart Lane and Spurs should record a narrow if not comfortable win.