Following an incredible few days in North London, Tottenham travel to West Ham United in the Premier League. This is a fierce rivalry, that is overlooked by many in England and the added intrigue of Jose Mourinho’s first match in charge makes it an unmissable game this weekend. It was a surprise that Spurs decided to part company with Mauricio Pochettino, but the decision made sense following the quick arrival of the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager. It became clear that Daniel Levy wanted a change in the dugout and has taken a huge gamble on Mourinho’s ability to coach at the very highest level.
West Ham will be pleased that the focus will be off them this weekend, as it will provide an opportunity for them to play without pressure. Manuel Pellegrini will understand the importance of this match, following a run of poor results and performances. The Chilean won’t be given too much longer to turn things around, with rumours circulating about his job security. However, a victory over Tottenham will buy him time with supporter and he will be desperate to get one over on his one-time adversary Mourinho. Their current position in the bottom five will not be tolerated for much longer.
Few would have expected Jose Mourinho to be managing Tottenham in November following the Champions League final. Pochettino appeared to have one of the safest jobs in the country, but it has quickly unravelled for the Argentine coach. Their record in 2019 has been disastrous in the Premier League and it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has led to a managerial change. They are currently below Newcastle United, Brighton and Sheffield United. All three were considered relegation contenders before a ball was kicked. Spurs managed to take only one point from their matches against the three teams. This season has seen the team continually drop silly points. They will be hoping that the appointment of Mourinho gets them back to winning ways, with one eye on a top-four finish.
- West Ham have conceded three goals in each of their last two Premier League matches.
- Tottenham have lost more points (12) from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League.
This is going to be an important period for Declan Rice, following a slow start to the season. The England international was tipped for big things last season, with interest from bigger clubs and a call-up to the senior international team. However, his performances during the recent break were criticised by many, with some believing that he doesn’t deserve a place in Southgate’s European Championships squad. Against Kosovo, the Hammers’ midfielder was uninventive in possession and his marking from set pieces was poor. He didn’t look suited to the holding midfield role with a level of performance lacking the quality expected from him. Every young player will go through bad patches of form, but the 20-year-old will be determined to turn things around ahead of the summer. He opted to represent England due to the opportunities that it would give him in international tournaments. Although he is young, he won’t want to miss out on this summer. In the Premier League, he is averaging five ball recoveries per game, which is an impressive rate of ball retrieval. That will be crucial on Saturday, as there are doubts about the make-up of Tottenham’s midfield under Mourinho. This is an area that West Ham should look to dominate. If they do, they could spoil the party.
Following another international break on the sidelines, the managerial change may come at the perfect time for Dele Alli. Jose Mourinho has consistently improved the number tens that he has worked with throughout his career. Frank Lampard is an example of a goal-scoring midfielder that developed into one of the world’s best under the Portuguese manager. Alli fits into a similar mould, with his attacking instincts and deadly finishing. This was best shown during the 2016/17 campaign, in which he scored 18 goals from midfield. Mourinho will be tasked with bringing the best out of the England international and his past record should provide encouragement. In addition to Lampard, the new Tottenham manager has worked well with Mesut Ozil, Wesley Sneijder and Deco. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he chose to build the team around the 23-year-old midfielder, as he has a lot of qualities that are required in a Mourinho team. Injuries have hampered Alli this season, but two goals from five games shows that he remains a huge threat in the Premier League.
Michail Antonio and Mark Noble should be available for the home side, while Jack Wilshere is in contention. Manual Lanzini is a long-term injury absentee following a broken collarbone. Roberto is likely to continue in goal, despite some noticeable errors in recent matches.
Tanguy Ndombele should be fit to start for the visitors. Jan Vertonghen will be missing with a hamstring injury, while Erik Lamela is likely to miss out too. Hugo Lloris is not available for Spurs.
West Ham will be hoping to spoil Mourinho’s day and inject much-needed positivity into their season. However, their defensive performances in recent weeks are a huge concern and it is difficult to see those problems rectifying themselves this weekend. The Tottenham players will need to deliver a good performance to win their new manager over, with every player starting afresh under the Portuguese coach. It could be a convincing away win to start the new era off with three points.
West Ham 1-3 Tottenham