Betway Insider’s View of the Opposition: Tottenham Hotspur
In the last round of the EFL Cup, Tottenham fielded Jan Vertonghen, Harry Winks and Dele Alli as they edged past Barnsley 1-0 at Wembley.
But having negotiated several injuries and a hectic schedule in the last fortnight, Mauricio Pochettino will have to dig further into the depths of his squad for this game.
Considering that West Ham have not faced such a flurry of matches, they have a good chance of taking advantage.
In particular, the Hammers should target what will surely be an inexperienced Spurs backline.
Juan Foyth did play in that Barnsley match, but may not be surrounded by such experience in this game, and will have rarely faced a striker of Andy Carroll’s stature before his summer switch from Argentinian side Estudiantes.
Slaven Bilic’s side put two headers past Tottenham in the league in September, and a repeat is possible if Carroll can make the most of this physical mismatch.
If he does, then the Hammers have every chance of extending a run that has seen them beat Tottenham in three of their last four campaigns.
The last of those victories – a 1-0 win at London Stadium in April that extinguished any hope of Spurs winning the title – was built on a five-man defence, a system that Bilic may return to after Friday’s disappointment against Brighton.
If used successfully, the Hammers should stifle Spurs and play on the frustrations of the Wembley crowd, which is likely to be sparse.
It should also ensure that – in contrast with the recent history of this fixture – this is not a high-scoring game.
Spurs’ win over Liverpool was the first time that they have scored more than once in a domestic home game at Wembley, which suggests that keeping their second string quiet is eminently achievable for the Hammers.
And while West Ham beat Bolton 3-0 in the last round, they are less likely to push this game’s goal tally above 2.5.