STAR PREVIEW: West Ham v Tottenham

It’s perhaps the most unexpected managerial appointment of the year, but West Ham v Tottenham, already one of the Premier League’s most well-contested derbies, has an extra level added to it by the return of Jose Mourinho to the Premier League with Tottenham.

That Mauricio Pochettino went – despite his fantastic work at the club – is no surprise, with the club’s fortunes showing no sign of turning, but Mourinho’s shock appointment, confirmed just hours after Pochettino had left, puts a different perspective on Tottenham’s season.

Spurs are languishing (by their standards) in 14th but they have a squad that gives the new arrival plenty to work with. Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in Europe, Heung-Min Son is one of the best forwards in the Premier League, and in the underrated Lucas Moura they do have a wide operator of real quality.

In midfield they have players who have shown plenty before in the shape of Dele Alli, and Eric Dier, whilst there are also relatively fresh arrivals in the shape of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso – who might be returning here – in midfield too, and Toby Alderweireld was once named as one for the best centre backs in Europe.

Mourinho evidently has work to do, but it should be remembered that this is a squad which finished runners up in the Champions League last season and which has finished in the top four for the last four seasons, finishing runners up on one of those.

Mourinho’s last job, with Manchester United, ended poorly but that was after he’d won two trophies with a side that has since struggled badly, and it could well be that he’d overachieved with the players he’d been given. Style of play is a concern for some Spurs fans, but Mourinho has always operated best with sides that have a powerful striker to operate around (Kane), strong, front footed midfielders (Ndombele), and an imposing centreback (Alderweireld?).

West Ham (11/4 for a Top Half finish with are also struggling. They’re on a six match winless run, having been horrendously exposed defensively over the last two weeks in defeats at home to Newcastle (3-2) and at Burnley (3-0). Those defeats were comprehensive too; Newcastle were 3-0 up after half an hour, with plenty more chances to go further ahead, and only a 90th minute goal from Robert Snodgrass put gloss on the score line; Last week, Burnley won the expected goals count 2.2 – 0.4 in their 3-0 defeat.

In Felipe Anderson, Sebastian Haller, and Andriy Yarmolenko they should have more than enough quality to give any defence problems but they’ve lacked confidence and creativity since a 4-0 League Cup defeat at Oxford and whilst Manuel Pellegrini is staying calm for now, things could get tougher still; Following this Derby, they have trips to Chelsea and Wolves before another home London derby against Arsenal.

West Ham v Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
12:30 BT Sport 1 HD / BT Sport Ultimate HD

(Maximum 10 matches)
APR 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 0-1 West Ham
OCT 2018 EFL CUP West Ham 1-3 Tottenham
OCT 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE West Ham 0-1 Tottenham
JAN 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 1-1 West Ham
OCT 2017 EFL CUP Tottenham 2-3 West Ham
SEP 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE West Ham 2-3 Tottenham
MAY 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE West Ham 1-0 Tottenham
NOV 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 3-2 West Ham
MAY 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE West Ham 1-0 Tottenham
NOV 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Tottenham 4-1 West Ham

The tactics here will be fascinating; The Hammers have struggled to control games with the majority of the possession (they held 69.5% possession in the 3-2 defeat to Newcastle and 60% in the 3-0 at Burnley) and they might enjoy facing Spurs more, if they hold more of the possession (when they beat Manchester United, they had just over 40% of the ball). How will Spurs play in their first game under Jose?

Finding a bet in this game is not an easy endeavour – Spurs haven’t been playing well recently but West Ham have arguably been worse, and we don’t know how Spurs will line up under Jose, who’s been there less than a week. Both sides have been leaking a lot of goals recently, with West Ham having no clean sheet in seven and Tottenham’s only clean sheets since the beginning of October coming against Red Star Belgrade.

It’s possible that this isn’t a shootout, but Spurs have been in nominally better form than West Ham before this week’s news and if he can get an instant reaction out of the squad then Spurs have the quality to win.

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