So here we are again, the start of another Premier League season. As usual, hopes are high – a new manager, a fresh start. Compared to last year, things feel a little calmer, expectations a little more realistic.
Let’s hope Spurs supporters and our trigger happy chairman, give Mauricio Pochettino the chance to implement his ideas. The new system might take time, all worthwhile things do.
Spurs’ first opponents of the new season are our London rivals, West Ham. Already the new manager has a chance to put right one of the horrors of the last campaign – the three losses to Sam Allardyce’s team.
West Ham finished in 13th place, with 40 points, but they flirted with relegation for much of the year.
West Ham Tactics
(Note: all stats from last year’s Premier League, source: WhoScored.com)
Last season, West Ham preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a big target man as the spearhead of the attack – ideally Andy Carroll. As you would expect of an Allardyce side, they are not a passing team; in fact they were second bottom of the Premier League in number of passes, pass success and possession.
Their main offensive strategy is to attack down the flanks and put crosses into the target man, for him to score directly or get knock downs for players following up. Kevin Nolan, in particular, benefited from this approach, finishing top scorer in the league, with seven goals.
The Hammers were second only to David Moyes’ Manchester United in crosses per game. Downing is the main source, he led the league last term. Mark Noble keeps the team running in midfield, topping both passes and tackles.
The defence did not perform particularly well last season, with the second most shots conceded in the division. Going forward they weren’t much better, recording the lowest shots on target. It’s amazing they stayed up!
Tottenham are favourites at 2.08, West Ham are 4.0, the draw is 3.6 .
Kyle Walker is a major doubt for Spurs, while Vertonghen, Dembele, Chadli and Paulinho will be assessed nearer the kick-off, after returning from World Cup duty.
Andy Carroll is a long term injury victim for West Ham, while there are suggestions Enner Valencia may not be match fit in time to start. New striker Diafra Sakho only joined the club on Thursday but could feature.
What team should Spurs play?
Ideally I would like to pair Dier with Vertonghen at the back but this game will require strength and a good deal of experience. West Ham are likely to pepper the box with crosses and this would be a baptism of fire for the young centre back.
Davies should start at left back. Stopping the supply of crosses from Downing will be key and the Welshman is a better defender than Rose. If Walker is injured, Naughton is the only real option on the right, highlighting the need for better cover.
Capoue and Holtby would be my defensive midfield pairing. Holtby has impressed in pre-season and could be the deep lying passing threat Spurs need to unlock stubborn defences.
I would give Lennon a try on the left. Pochettino likes inverted wingers and the experienced wide man will provide some cover for Davies. Soldado gets the nod, in a game where crisp passing may be needed to unlock a defensive formation.
Here’s my team:
Match prediction: West Ham 0 – Spurs 2
Do you with agree with this Spurs team? Please let us know your opinion in the comments section below.
Discuss this with me on Twitter: @ABPSpurs
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