Tottenham face a London derby as they make the short trip to the London Stadium to face West Ham United. Both sides will have ambitions of challenging for a top four finish, but it is the hosts that are currently better placed to achieve that aim. There are currently six points between the two teams, albeit Spurs do have a game in hand over their local rivals. The current state of play means that this is a match that the visitors need to win if they are to maintain a Champions League push. Jose Mourinho will be aware of that and if they do drop points, the pressure will grow on the Portuguese coach.
It has been an excellent season for David Moyes, as he is slowly rebuilding his reputation at West Ham. The club may now regret the decision to sack the Scotsman during his first spell in charge, as he looks to be the right person to take them to the next level. Supporters may be hoping to push for the top four, but a place in one of the lower European competitions would represent an excellent campaign for the Hammers. They have a difficult upcoming fixture list and it is important that they attack these matches with the right intent. Moyes will know that his team have every chance of picking up three points on Sunday, if they perform as they have been in recent weeks.
Mourinho is entering a key period in his Tottenham career, as questions are being asked of his ability to take the team forward. They are currently in 9th position, but their performances in cup competitions have kept him in a job. If he is to be given another season, he will need to show better league form and go on to win one of the two competitions that Spurs are still in. There is little margin for error for the Portuguese coach. They are six points off the top four, which means that the league season can still be salvaged. A win this weekend could begin a charge up the table.
West Ham United have already earned three more points than they managed in the entirety of last season.
If Tottenham don’t win tomorrow, it will be the first time that they have failed to beat West Ham since the 2013-14 campaign.
A number of West Ham players have enhanced their careers with their consistent performances this season, but the standout may be Tomas Soucek. The Czech Republic international is often compared with Marouane Fellaini, as he is deployed in a similar way by Moyes. However, he is a more complete player than the Belgian and he will be attracting interest from top clubs across the continent. Soucek is a smart player, who offers a goal threat by taking up threatening positions in the final third. His physicality means that he is also an asset from set pieces at both ends of the pitch. This season, he has contributed eight goals in the Premier League, which ranks him as the Hammers’ top scorer. The 25-year-old will have ambitions of reaching double figures for the season and few would bet against him from reaching that landmark. Tottenham can be bullied at the back and Soucek can cause them a lot of problems this weekend.
There were some concerns about Harry Kane not traveling with the squad to the Europa League tie, but it could represent an encouraging change in thinking from the England captain. Previously, he has tried to play every minutes and that has led to injuries. Jose Mourinho’s comments about the striker suggested that it was Kane’s decision not to travel as he was trying to ease his way back from injury. If he continues to rest strategically, it should bode well for his long term future for club and country. During his career, he has a good record against West Ham, as he has scored 11 times. This will give him confidence going into this weekend and he will realise that he needs to end the season strongly if his team are to make a late challenge for Champions League football. It has been an excellent season personally for him, with 13 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League. However, it won’t mean a lot to Kane unless it ends in success for the team.
Michail Antonio should be passed fit to start for West Ham. They showed that they can thrive without him, but it will be a big boost to have him back in the team. Fabian Balbuena could return to action, but Moyes may retain faith with the defence that kept a clean sheet against Sheffield United.
Harry Kane is expected to start, despite missing the game in midweek. Dele Alli and Gareth Bale are pushing for Premier League action following impressive performances in the Europa League. Matt Doherty also played well in the week, which will encourage supporters as Serge Aurier may miss out against West Ham. Sergio Reguilon is another doubt for the weekend.
This is going to be a fixture that has huge ramifications at the top of the table. For West Ham, a draw would represent a good result, but they will be smelling blood and see it as an opportunity to further their own top four hopes. Meanwhile, Tottenham have to win if they are to get their challenge back on track following a period of disappointing results. If Kane starts, Tottenham should have the quality to get a result, but it will be a tight game with little between the two teams.
West Ham United 1-2 Tottenham