Match Preview: Tottenham vs West Ham

Tottenham take on West Ham this weekend in a game which could have major implications for the hosts in terms of their top four ambitions.

Mauricio Pochettino comes into this game with one eye on Ajax in midweek, so his full focus may not be on the Hammers. With this in mind, the fact they take on a side with nothing to play for should be beneficial for the Lilywhites.

Spurs currently sit in third place and can take a major step to securing Champions League football this weekend. They’re three points above Chelsea in fourth and four above north London rivals Arsenal.

West Ham, on the other hand, sit in 11th place and come into this clash having failed to win any of their last four.

What history tells us

Tottenham are unbeaten in their last three matches against the Hammers so recent omens bode well for Pochettino and his side. West Ham have only beaten them twice in their last nine meetings.

The reverse fixture between the two this term saw Spurs win 1-0 back in October, with Erik Lamela’s header being the difference at the London Stadium.

West Ham’s last win over their London rivals came towards the back end of the 2016/17 season when Manuel Lanzini popped up to earn the Hammers all three points in another 1-0 between the two teams.

The Irons haven’t beaten Spurs at home since 2013. Two of the scorers on that day were Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison who found the back of the net in a 3-0 victory. Winston Reid had earlier opened the scoring.

Key battle

Both players have been standouts for their respective clubs this season and Heung-Min Son can find himself pretty unfortunate not to have been named in the PFA Team of the Year.

The South Korean has had a stellar season in front of goal and has matched Harry Kane in terms of performance for much of the campaign.

Felipe Anderson has also been superb for West Ham. The Hammers were lacking in creativity when Dimitri Payet left but he’s been able to banish any memories supporters still had of the Frenchman.

The summer signing from Lazio has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

Ref in focus – Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor has cemented himself as one of the better referees in the Premier League but West Ham fans will have every reason to be fearful with the official witnessing just 17% of visiting teams win when he’s been in charge.

Taylor’s stats suggest there could be a number of stoppages as the referee sits quite high up in terms of the number of fouls per game and fouls per tackle he awards when compared to the Premier League’s other referees.

However, he hasn’t shown anyone a red card since December when he took charge of a Champions League fixture between Victoria Plzen and Roma.

Team news

Both teams come into this one with injury issues. The main one for Spurs is, of course, Kane. There will also be a significant gap left in midfield with Moussa Sissoko missing while Serge Aurier has been ruled out as well.

With Spurs’ Champions League game in mind, Kyle Walker-Peters could start at right-back whilst Eric Dier could feature in midfield amid doubts over the fitness of Harry Winks.

This type of fixture could be tailor-made for Fernando Llorente though, and he may take his place alongside Son in attack – leaving Lucas Moura rested for the Ajax clash.

West Ham will be sweating over the fitness of four players with Manuel Lanzini, Aaron Cresswell, Samir Nasri and Javier Hernandez all doubts.

There will be a significant void left in the Hammers team and as a result, they could be left relying on Michail Antonio again who shone against Leicester last weekend.

With Cresswell a doubt, Masuaku is set to continue at left-back, but we’re anticipating Ryan Fredericks will be brought in to try and combat Son’s sheer pace, while Issa Diop could be given the nod over Angelo Ogbonna to reinstate what has been West Ham’s only convincing centre-back partnership this season.

The visitors have struggled to find goals from their front men this term but the enigmatic Marko Arnautovic will likely keep his place. He usually turns up for the big games.