During the international break, there has been excitement building around Tottenham. Although they lost their opening fixture of the season to Everton, they have shown promising signs during the first month of the campaign. This is especially impressive due to the packed schedule that they had to meet, with commitments in the Europa League and Carabao Cup. Jose Mourinho has managed to keep them in all competitions, while collecting seven points in the Premier League. They will face West Ham United on Sunday, in a game that is always fiercely contested. It won’t be easy, but they should start the match as favourites.
The challenge for Tottenham is to consistently perform at the level they showed against Manchester United. They may have been helped by a first-half red card to Anthony Martial, but they were the better team prior to the sending off. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have taken their attacking partnership to the next level, with the pairing combining effectively for several goals already this campaign. Mourinho has Gareth Bale available to add to the attack, which should make them even more devastating in the final third. The next few months will be vital for the Portuguese coach as he attempts to rebuild his reputation at the highest level.
West Ham United have had a mixed start to the season. They were tipped for relegation following a poor first two matches, but they have managed to bounce back with convincing victories over Leicester City and Wolves. David Moyes has found a set-up that works against better teams, with the side sitting back and countering with pace in attack. This suits the likes of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen, while the industry of Pablo Fornals complements the English pair. There will still be concerns about how they set-up against the lesser teams, but the weekend should suit them well. The Hammers will have confidence and will not be afraid to commit men forward against a Spurs side without a clean sheet this season.
Harry Kane has three goals and six assists in his opening four matches. This is the most goal contributions a player has managed in the first four matches of a Premier League season since Thierry Henry with 10 in 2004/5.
Michail Antonio has scored 18 headed goals since his Premier League debut in September 2015. No player has scored more in the Premier League during this period.
It has been an excellent start to the season, as the stat above indicates. For the past few seasons, Kane has suffered from injuries and they have prevented him from taking the next step. The early indications are that he is ready to have his best season in the final third, both in terms of goal-scoring and assists. The latter will be helped a lot by having Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min next to him. There will be a lot of goals in the Tottenham attack. Out of the three, Kane is probably the most creative as has been seen by his early season form. Although he has been overachieving his expected assists (xA), his numbers are encouraging. No player has a higher xA than the Tottenham forward with 2.86, which suggests he is set for his most creative season since breaking through. His previous best season for assists came in 2016/17 when he got seven. He is just one behind that with 34 matches left to play. West Ham will set up with men behind the ball, which will limit the opportunity for Kane to play Son or Bale in behind. However, it could suit the striker as he will get chances to shoot from range. He isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and that could be important in such a game.
There will be no defender in the league that will relish facing off against Michail Antonio. The West Ham player is a handful to deal with, both aerially and across the grass, due to his pace and direct style. At the age of 30, he is at the peak of his powers and since lockdown, he has managed to steer clear of injuries. This should provide encouragement to the coaching staff and supporters, as the biggest issue with Antonio was his inability to stay fit for long periods. This will be a fixture that suits him, as there will be space to run in behind and none of the Tottenham centre-backs have convinced this season. They will struggle to keep the forward quiet on Sunday. He has started the season well with two goals in four matches.
Eric Dier and Gareth Bale are both doubts for the weekend, but it is hoped that the latter will be able to feature for his debut. Giovani Lo Celso will be missing with a thigh injury, while Japhet Tanganga remains a long term absentee.
Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks should both be available for the Hammers. Arthur Masuaku is a doubt, but he could be fit to feature.
West Ham will take confidence from their recent victories in matches they weren’t fancied to do well in. Their set-up has been more coherent and this match will suit that approach. Antonio and Bowen will cause a lot of problems for the Tottenham defence, due to their directness and movement. The visitors should manage to get on the score sheet. However, Spurs have been one of the best attacking sides with an xG of 9.59 in the Premier League so far. They should have enough to get the three points.
Tottenham 2-1 West Ham United