Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham: Tactical Preview

The last time West Ham United visited White Hart Lane, a 90th minute Harry Kane equaliser saw the point shared in a 2-2 draw. This year, both teams go into the fixture on 21 points, ranked fifth and sixth in the Premier League. 

Slaven Bilic will, however, be without a key component come Sunday. Demitri Payet was taken down by James McCarthy in the last match before the international break and looks to be out for the foreseeable future. Payet has been West Ham’s key man this season, leading the team in goals (5) and assists (3). The French international is third in the Premier League in chances created per 90 (4.4), behind only Mesut Özil and David Silva. There is some good news for the Hammers, though, as Diafra Sakho is set to return to the side on Sunday. The inclusion of Sakho should make the loss of Payet a little less painful, but nonetheless a major blow. 

As is the case for most Premier League teams this season, West Ham employs a 4-2-3-1. In goal for West Ham is Adrián. In front of him are center backs, Winston Reid and James Tompkins. Reid leads the team in two key defensive metrics, blocks (1.3 per game) and interceptions (2.7 per game). The outside backs are left back, Aaron Cresswell, and right back, Carl Jenkinson. Neither of the outside backs has provided much of an offensive threat this season.

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The first band of midfielders features Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyaté. Again, not much offensive production from these two with both averaging only about one chance created per 90. Especially against a good club like Spurs, expect them both to play conservatively. 

Without Payet, the attacking midfield will certainly lose potency, and the remainder of the group will have to find a way to generate the chances normally created by Payet. Assuming Bilic sticks with the 4-2-3-1 in the absence of Payet and doesn’t move to a 4-4-2, we will likely see Manuel Lanzini in the #10 with Diafra Sakho on the left and Victor Moses on the right. If Bilic opts for the 4-4-2, Sakho would move up top and Lanzini would probably move out left. 

Andy Carroll will likely get the nod up top, having scored once and assisted once in 246 minutes this season. The striker poses a significant aerial threat, maintaining a rate of 4 aerial duels won per 90 this season, a fair bit higher than any Spurs player.  

It’s difficult to imagine that Poch wants to move away from the lineup that has played exceptionally well over the last few weeks. There will, however, need to be at least one change as Erik Lamela will be suspended for Sunday’s match. My money is on Son starting in his place, especially with Townsend seemingly out of the picture. 

The Spurs Projected Goal Difference is +.88 in favor of Spurs, predicting a win for the Lilywhites. Though this does not take into account the fact that many Spurs players played for their countries over the past week and may be short on rest. 

For those of you attending the match at the Lane, remember that the French national anthem will be played before kickoff. The lyrics can be found here. This gesture will mean a lot to Hugo and to France. As we saw at Wembley, these types of things can and will be very powerful.

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