West Ham are Spurs’ hosts this Saturday, in the lunchtime kick-off. The equivalent fixture at White Hart Lane is etched into my memory, a shameful 3-0 reverse – for me the worst game of the season, and I was there.
The east London side are still mathematically part of the relegation battle, but it would take an incredible set of results to send them down. They currently sit 14th on 37 points. Their manager, Sam Allardyce, is a divisive character but he has managed to get West Ham back to the Premier League and keep them there.
The Hammers are currently on a four match losing streak, although this has included tight losses to in form teams Liverpool and Crystal Palace. Their last defeat, away to West Brom, was more of a setback. Conversely Spurs are on a four match unbeaten run.
The statistics give an indication of why Allardyce is not universally popular among supporters. West Ham certainly do not play possession football. In fact, they sit second bottom of the league for average possession, short passes and pass success. They are strong in the air – third for aerial duels won. The Hammers don’t create a lot of chances, they have had the least shots on target of any Premier League team.
West Ham normally line up in a 4-2-3-1 with two players shielding their defence, an attacking midfield trio and a big target man – normally Andy Carroll – as the spearhead of the attack. They generally favour crosses and long balls and prefer to attack down the wings. They are weak at defending their own flanks and are vulnerable to counter attacks.
Despite an indifferent season, Kevin Nolan leads West Ham’s goals scored and assists in the league (7 and 5 respectively). However, their main danger-man is Andy Carroll. West Ham will try to get into crossing positions and put balls in to their big striker. He leads the league in aerial duels won, with an average of 9.2 per game, whilst winger Stuart Downing has played the most accurate crosses in the Premier League. He and Matt Jarvis will look to get wide and supply Carroll.
At the back, Winston Reid has impressed in central defence. There have even been rumours that we are interested in signing him. Mark Noble does an important job sitting in front of the defence and has also contributed going forward.
West Ham will be missing Tomkins and Borriello. For Spurs long term injury victims, Walker and Lamela are both still out. It was announced this week that an ankle injury will rule Andros Townsend out for the rest of the season and he will also miss this summer’s World Cup. It is a tough blow for the 22 year old. The good news is that both Vertonghen and Capoue came through an under-21 game this week and may be in the squad this weekend.
West Ham will try to bombard our penalty area with crosses, so heading ability in defence is key. Dawson is our best defender in the air, so he has to play, and should match up with Carroll. We must also try to stop Downing and Jarvis getting into crossing positions, so our fullbacks will have to be strong. Walker has been by far our best player in this position and will be a big miss. Fryers should replace Rose, he’s a better defender and his extra height could prove useful.
Lennon and Chadli should play as wingers, to attack West Ham on the flanks and to provide extra defensive cover out wide. I would like to see Capoue play as I think he can add the power in midfield that we’ve been lacking, but it may be best to ease him back from his long injury lay-off.
Here’s my team:
Would you play this team? Please leave your comments in the section below.