David Moyes must ready West Ham United for Jose Mourinho’s potential game-changing substitutes when the Irons visit rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Moyes has a torrid record against Spurs in recent years, having last claimed a victory over the north London side during his Everton days back in December 2012 before clinching just four draws in seven subsequent meetings.
The Irons’ record is far from ideal, either, having won just once in their last six encounters with Tottenham whilst conceding two or more goals in three of their last four meetings.
Worse for Moyes and West Ham ahead of visiting Spurs this Sunday is that Mourinho has confirmed, via football.london’s Alasdair Gold, that Harry Kane will be fit to start after England boss Gareth Southgate mentioned the striker had felt muscle soreness during the international break.
Mourinho further confirmed that summer signing Carlos Vinicius will be on the bench against the Hammers, while Gareth Bale will “probably” make his second Tottenham debut following his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
“Probably he plays Sunday, if he doesn’t he will on Thursday,” he said, via quotes by BBC Sport. “He is very, very close.”
With Mourinho confirming that Vinicius will be on the bench to face West Ham this weekend, Moyes must be prepared to adapt his tactics in order to counter the Brazilian striker’s game-changing impact.
Former Reading manager Jose Gomes, who managed the 25-year-old at Rio Ave, has offered an insight into what the Hammers could be in store for, having hailed Vinicius for his ability to shield possession and unleash powerful strikes.
“He’s a powerful player, and very intelligent,” Gomes told The Athletic. “He is someone who always gets himself into goalscoring positions. He has a great sense for where opportunities are going to appear. He shoots with enormous power with his left foot. He protects the ball really well – even when defenders are pressuring him, he is able to shield the ball and turn his man to get a shot in.
“I used him as a No.9, a penalty-box striker. But we looked to make the most of his mobility: he likes to make diagonal runs into wide areas, behind the full-backs. He’s someone who holds the ball up well, which allows the rest of the team to move up the pitch and start an attack, or just take a breath. He was our reference point in attacking transitions.”
With West Ham recently utilising a five-man defence to good effect against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City, the Irons should have a reasonable chance of denying Vinicius the openings he looks to exploit and in turn prevent the 25-year-old from stretching the pitch.
But if the Hammers’ holding midfielders of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek cannot prevent the ball from reaching Spurs’ summer signing, then Moyes’ men must be willing to track back and congest the key pockets in Lukasz Fabianski’s area with Tottenham boasting the second-most goals in the league from inside the six-yard box (four) and penalty area overall (eight) thus far.