Tottenham vs West Ham | Sunday 22 February | White Hart Lane | 14:00
Sunday serves up a cracking encounter as Tottenham host London rivals West Ham with both teams eager to get back to winning ways following defeats last time out, with Spurs edged out at Liverpool and West Ham hammered by West Brom in the FA Cup. Only five points separate the sides and there will be more than just local pride at stake when they meet at White Hart Lane.
To Win (90mins)
West Ham 34/10
Tottenham's fatigue cost them against a determined Liverpool team last Tuesday as Mario Balotelli grabbed a late winner to make it 3-2 at Anfield. Spurs will now welcome the return to White Hart Lane where they are unbeaten in their last seven matches in the league with five victories and two draws, including three wins on the spin. Spurs' saviours are becoming abundantly clear, with the ever-improving Harry Kane tending to get the ball rolling for Mauricio Pochettino's men, tallying 23 goals in all competitions, and it is likely that Kane will once again show his prowess with Tottenham playing an attractive and exciting brand of football. Spurs look very much like a top-four team at present and if that comes to pass at the end of the campaign, Kane will be the player who gets the most credit.
Christian Eriksen is a creative force from the middle of the park. His vision and passing is incredible; the Dane's ability to methodically pick apart a defence has become evident and he’s beginning to show the potential to be one of the top creative midfielders in the world. Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb have given Spurs something their midfield have been lacking for years. The pair set the standard and put the work in to allow the likes of Eriksen to focus on attacking. They’re not exactly flashy, nor are they going to dance past people, but they’re the type of players that will be applauded for retaining possession or putting some niggling tackles in. Spurs have no injury concerns ahead of this game which means Pochettino has a full strength squad to choose from. The fitness of the squad has been a real factor in the London club’s recent run of wins with Pochettino playing a big role in ensuring his side is the strongest in the league in terms of running power and sheer determination.
West Ham United fans threw their fury at Sam Allardyce as West Brom dealt them a thrashing in the FA Cup. The Baggies inflicted a 4-0 defeat to dump the Hammers out of the competition in emphatic fashion and many supporters who travelled from east London were infuriated and rightly so. Big Sam blamed the fixture list (West Ham played on Sunday and Wednesday in the league) for the pathetic effort, a claim somewhat undermined by the fact West Brom had to deal with the exact same issues. Back to the Premier League, where the Hammers are without a win in their last three meetings with two draws and a defeat to Liverpool, who Spurs know all too well. They haven’t won on the road in their last six matches with four draws and two losses. It’s very clear, West Ham are not in good shape. They have been commended for an improved style of play this season, something that's seen them establish a serious challenge for European football. However, they really need to turn their form around.
They have a very good recent record against Spurs, winning three of the last four matches with one defeat suffered this season and there’s no doubt they’ll come out fighting. Allardyce has fashioned his team in his typical style, making the Hammers very difficult to play against, with a set of tireless forwards and midfielders. From a West Ham perspective, Stewart Downing is having an excellent season, having racked up five goals with seven assists in the league and he can certainly cause Tottenham’s defenders problems. Trying to stop the prolific Kane will be Big Sam's biggest challenge of the season so far—something other clubs have failed at. Up front Andy Carroll is out for the season which means the successful partnership of Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho will lead the attack.
VERDICT: Tottenham 15/20
Tottenham come into the game favourites at 15/20 while West Ham are priced up at 34/10. Spurs have been impressive at home while the Hammers have struggled on their travels. Spurs won the reverse fixture 1-0 at West Ham and are tipped to do the double.