Five Talking Points - Tottenham Hotspur

The major subjects for discussion ahead of Saturday's teatime London derby at White Hart Lane...

Can it happen again?

In late 2013, West Ham United travelled to White Hart Lane twice in the space of eight weeks and won on both occasions.

A 3-0 Premier League victory was followed by a come-from-behind 2-1 League Cup quarter-final win.

When the Hammers went 2-0 up on the Premier League visit to Tottenham Hotspur in February 2015, the Claret and Blue Army chanted ‘It’s happening again!’

On that occasion, Spurs came back to draw 2-2, before scoring a 4-1 success in last season’s Premier League meeting.

So, the question is, can West Ham make it happen again? Or will Tottenham continue their recent renaissance by making it back-to-back home victories over their London rivals?

Ravel Morrison

Noble’s absence

For the first time in the Premier League this season, Slaven Bilic will be without captain Mark Noble, who is suspended after being booked for a fifth time against Stoke City last time out.

The skipper may not have been at his influential best so far in 2016/17, but he will be sorely missed in Saturday’s teatime feast at White Hart Lane.

A boyhood Hammers fan, Noble undoubtedly raises his game against his team’s local rivals, and his energy, leadership and quality will all be marked by their enforced absence.

It will be up to whoever replaces him – Swiss youngster Edimilson Fernandes or Norwegian Havard Nordtveit are among those in contention – to fill the void left by the missing Mr West Ham.

Unbeaten hosts

They may not have hit the heights of last season on a consistent basis, but the fact remains that Tottenham are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino has instilled a resilience and energy in his Spurs side that has made them, so far, impossible to beat.

Tottenham have produced some scintialling displays, most notably in beating Manchester City at White Hart Lane and thrashing Stoke City 4-0 at the bet365 Stadium, and go into Saturday’s game having drawn 1-1 at Arsenal last time out.

However, Spurs have also failed to beat AFC Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion, so West Ham can travel to N17 with hopes of adding to that list.

Adrian or Darren Randolph?

Who will take the gloves?

Slaven Bilic has said publicly that Adrian is his No1 goalkeeper, and one can expect the Spaniard to line up between the sticks at White Hart Lane.

The No13 has pulled out some important saves this season, most notably in the home win over Sunderland and in the first half at Everton.

However, a costly mistake against Stoke City last time out raised speculation that Darren Randolph could be given his first Premier League opportunity since Adrian’s injury at the end of last season.

Randolph has himself been hugely dependable when called upon by Club and country, helping West Ham to an EFL Cup win over Chelsea and Republic of Ireland to a valuable FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Austria in recent weeks.

So, will Bilic be tempted to change his goalkeeper? Or will he stick to his guns between the sticks?

Fours or threes?

Slaven Bilic’s switch from a back four to a back three – or five, depending on how you see things – resulted in an upturn in results and a greater defensive solidity.

For that reason, the Croatian may opt to continue with the new formation, with Winston Reid expected to replace James Collins at centre-half.

The absence of Mark Noble and Tottenham’s own preference for a back three could see Bilic ‘match-up’ Spurs with a five-man midfield.

Or, will the manager be tempted to change to his tried-and-tested 4-3-3 in a bid to take advantage of space behind the home full-backs?