I’ll begin my preview of the Tottenham game with a quiz question. I’ll give the answer towards the end. What do the following footballers have in common: Jermaine Defoe, Mido, Bobby Zamora, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Paul Allen, Clive Allen, Martin Peters, Jimmy Greaves, Frank Lampard (senior), and John Lyall?
Whatever you think of our North London neighbours, and most West Ham supporters dislike them, (or an even stronger verb than that), they have been a formidable side for the past two seasons, and have come close to winning the title both times. It looks like ultimately they will fall just short again, and we can assist in that happening tonight.
If they beat us they will cut the deficit at the top to just one point, but when you consider Chelsea’s run-in, an away game at West Brom, and three home games against Middlesbrough, Watford and Sunderland, then Tottenham are unlikely to get the opportunity to take over at the top. After their game tonight, Tottenham have a home game against Manchester United, and finish with two away games at Leicester and Hull. In theory they could still be called upon to do us a favour on the last day of the season, but it is unlikely that it will come to that. At least I hope not!
Considering the season we’ve had, then logically there is no way we can compete with them tonight. They have only lost three times in the league all season, in away trips to Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, and face us having won their last nine games in a row, scoring 25 goals in the process and conceding just 4. At least we are unbeaten in our last four games, but a record of one win in the last eleven games does not look so good. One thing that we are extremely good at is ending other teams’ bad runs; perhaps we can do the opposite for a change and end a good run?
Spurs away form is not as strong as their home form, and trips to West Brom, Bournemouth, and even Sunderland only yielded one point in each game. And last November, when we visited their ground, we led 2-1 with just a couple of minutes to go, only to do what we have done consistently all season, and throw away points from a winning position. All straws to clutch at when looking for any chance of a good result tonight.
Will Carroll be back from Holby City? Will Masuaku be fit? Will Noble return to the starting line-up? Will Calleri be selected again up front (I hope not)? Before Slav’s press conference on Thursday I wondered whether Sakho would be fit? We now know he won’t play again this season, and I wonder if we will ever see him in a claret and blue shirt again? Will we play three (five?) at the back? Will we try to win the game or play for a point? Can we repeat our best performance of the season (Chelsea in the EFL Cup)? A lot of these questions will be answered on the night.
Tottenham have kept a fairly settled side for most of the season, and with their system it seems that any injuries that they do have can be easily covered by players of a similar quality who know exactly the jobs that they have to do. On the other hand, we have had a catalogue of injuries once again this season, and I hope that the board and management are looking into the reasons for this. Are we just unlucky, or is there (as I suspect) more to it than that?
The answer to the quiz question: All eleven have scored goals for Tottenham against West Ham. The first nine on the list have all played for both teams, but the final two have not; but both Lyall and Lampard have scored own goals in a West Ham v Tottenham game.
And finally, a quote from the legendary Brazilian footballer, Pele. “The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” At the current time, this will be a very difficult game for us to win. If we can manage it, then we will all be extremely happy to say the least. What words or phrases can you think of?
Ecstatic, euphoric, thrilled, over the moon, elated, delighted, on cloud nine, walking on air, in seventh heaven jubilant, rapturous, as pleased as Punch, cock-a-hoop, as happy as a sandboy, as happy as Larry (who was Larry?), like a child with a new toy.
Yes, all of those. And by the way, for those lovers of statistics, we have now managed to reach 998 points in Premier League football from 803 games, in this our 21st season. This puts us at tenth place in the all-time list. The nine teams above us include the top seven teams in the Premier League at the moment (but not in the same order), plus Aston Villa and Newcastle. Wouldn’t it be good to reach 1000 in the game against Tottenham? We’ll be overjoyed if we can.