West Ham vs Tottenham Hotspur is the headline clash in the Premier League this weekend, which is fantastic news for us at Football FanCast offices with two of its members facing the gruelling punishment of watching the other basque in London-bragging-rights-glory come Monday morning.
Indeed, supplying are expert predictions this weekend are Snack-Media’s very own Tottenham-adoring Martin Crawford, also known as Mr. C, and FootballFanCast.com’s editor-in-chief James Jones, also the founder of West Ham World.
Here’s how they reckon Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off will pan out.
3-4-3 has brought consecutive clean sheets and four points, but Javier Hernandez has struggled to make an impact. Would you change the system to get better use from the Mexican or stick with the current set-up?
JJ: Javier Hernandez has struggled to make an impact because he has been deployed out wide to make way for Andy Carroll up front.
The last two games have perhaps showed how important Carroll is to us, but Slaven Bilic really needs to find a way of using Hernandez properly. We got him for a bargain and made a big song and dance about it at the time, but that’s all pretty pointless if we continue to see him play out wide.
Against Spurs I think Bilic will probably stick with the same formation as Carroll will cause their defence all sorts of problems if he’s on form, but the fans are crying out for Hernandez to be used in that role instead.
Spurs have been much stronger on the road than at home this season, but can you see some of the problems at Wembley trickle into their away form if West Ham set up defensively on Saturday?
MC: Results aside Tottenham have played well at Wembley this season, but have just failed to find the net despite the plethora of chances. I believe we have created the most chances of any Premier League team in the country, but unfortunately our failure to convert has cost us dear.
We are at our best playing on the counter attack and given that West Ham will be on the offensive from the 1st min (as they have shown in previous years) I cannot ever see them sitting back in this one – their fans won’t allow it.
With that in mind I am hopeful that we have opportunities to pick them off on the counter attack and end our wretched run against them away from home.
Should West Ham take a more defensive approach on Saturday and look to frustrate the visitors or would you like to see more ambition at home?
JJ: We took a defensive approach against Tottenham last season and it paid off, though we did have a lot more creativity available to us in that game than we do this time around. Manuel Lanzini is still injured and without him, we look clueless in the attacking third, which is where I think we’ll come undone against Tottenham on Sunday.
If we can frustrate them like last season I think we could get a decent result. We’re not yet in a position to start demanding a more ambitious style of football though – we need to play to our own strengths and start pulling away from the bottom three first. Then, once we’ve done that and our better players are back from injury, Bilic can then start looking at deploying a better style of play to keep us fans entertained.
Which attacking player will cause Tottenham’s defence the most problems this weekend?
MC: Whilst Andy Carroll will always prove a problem, given his aerial ability, I would have to say that Javier Hernandez remains the biggest threat to our defence. He gave us a lot of problems in the Champions League last season for Leverkusen and we have to be wary of him as he is arguably their main threat in the final third.
Which dynamic of the match will decide this game?
JJ: If this game was at Wembley I’d be much more confident but it’s not and I think Spurs will be desperate to get revenge for the way we’ve ruined their title chances in each of the last two seasons. I really can’t see them bottling anything in East London this year. However, London Stadium will be rocking and the team goes into this high in confidence given the mini-unbeaten run we’re on, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we did knick it 1-0 again. Equally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tottenham thrashed us 4-0. The simple fact is Tottenham are far better than us and will dominate possession.
What’s West Ham’s biggest weakness and how should Tottenham try to expose it?
MC: West Ham’s biggest weakness is in their heads and you never know which team is going to turn up on a weekly basis; however, when we are the opposition they always seem to be up for it and give that extra percent that is absent in other games. I truly believe that if we are going to win this game then we need a fast start and an early goal – something we haven’t done at all this season within the Premier League. We play better on the counter and an early lead will enable us to pick them off the longer the game goes on.
And finally lads, let’s hear your score predictions…
JJ: Spurs fans always go on about how this is West Ham’s cup final so if that’s the case, I really fancy us to pick up some silverware on Saturday. 1-0 win, Andy Carroll header, 86th minute, our only shot on target, it’s happened again!
MC: For some reason Tottenham fail to up their game in this fixture, compared to other London derbies like an Arsenal or Chelsea. We always appear to be complacent when it comes to this match (history proves this) and I fear that this will be repeated on Saturday, especially as the Irons always raise their game against us. With that in mind I see us losing (painful as it is) by the odd goal.