Matchday: Spurs versus West Ham

Preparing the sparrow’s wings and the crow’s arse for the annual visit to White Hart Lane.

Tottenham West HamTo the combatants and the committed a West Ham versus Spurs derby is one of the biggest games of the season. To the outsider it is simply another Premier League fixture. Tottenham may pretend that it is not so important to them but losing to their noisy neighbour always hits them hard. They regard West Ham with the same self-appointed conceit and arrogance that Arsenal view them with; as the Gunners pursue their main London rivalry with Chelsea.

In wider footballing circles the two clubs meeting in today’s late kick-off are, at best, part of the chasing pack that occasionally threaten but ultimately disappoint. They are like two old actors who love to reminisce about past glories and the good old days. If you took the combined trophy room silverware from the last 50 or so years to a car boot sale then it would barely fill a couple of carrier bags.

Against all the evidence, however, both clubs have lofty ambitions; a future where super-sized stadia thrust them into the big time of perpetual Champion’s League qualification. That both sets of owners and supporters see themselves as pretenders to the crown of ‘top team in London’ ensures that tensions are kept on simmer and that success in this fixture remains a priority of the highest order.

They are solid, they are electric, but we have improved and if we play good, we have a chance.

– Slaven Bilic

Tottenham’s unwarranted and overblown opinion of themselves has frequently been the source of great amusement but the fly in that particular ointment is current manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has elected to follow a build an effective team route of management over the long standing tradition of assembling a squad of expensive misfiring prima donnas. The sooner that Mauricio is poached by a proper big club the better.

Head to Head

One of our longest running rivalries, the following statistics exclude meetings in the Southern League and war-time cups. Our record at White Hart Lane is not good with only one league win in the last 14 visits. Slaven Bilic made his West Ham debut at White Hart Lane in February 1996 – a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Dani goal.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

66

27

19

20

97

88

WLWLWL

Away

66

15

17

34

85

120

LDWWLD

 

132

42

36

54

182

208

 

Team News

No fresh injury concerns reported for West Ham although Mark Noble is suspended. Winston Reid has recovered the hamstring injury that prevented him travelling to play in New Zealand’s world cup games with New Caledonia and supposedly Diafra Sakho is finally fit, at least physically, and may well find a place on the bench.

I guess it will be 3 at the back again with Antonio and Cresswell as wing-backs, Fernandes coming in for Noble and Ayew up front. This formation raises concerns given the way Tottenham like to get their full-backs forward.

Every time we play and compete in the Premier League, the opponent takes the game like a derby or a final. That is good. This is another derby, another final for us.

– Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham have a number of injury concerns with Alderweireld and Lamela out and late fitness tests for Alli, Denbele, Rose and Eriksen. A Champion’s League fixture on Tuesday may influence how many are risked today.

Arguably a good time to play them and end their unbeaten start to the season as Tottenham do not have strength in depth but similar injury-hit opposition situations have worked against us in the past.

Man in the Middle

A first encounter of the season today with referee Mike Dean from The Wirral. Dean has 49 Yellows and 2 Reds from 11 games in this year’s account and was most recently involved with West Ham in the final Boleyn Ground match against Manchester United.