Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Anthony Taylor
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
West Ham are next up at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take on a Spurs side in imperious form at their new fortress in North London.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won all of their games since finally moving into their new ground, most recently battling past a resilient Brighton defence on Tuesday night to a 1-0 victory thanks to a brilliant Christian Eriksen goal.
Those three points have lifted Tottenham to third place, four points clear of fifth, meaning Champions League qualification for next season is looking more certain and remains in their own hands.
West Ham United, however, sit eleventh in the table, five points off of the top ten. The Hammers could realistically drop to fifteenth, with the trailing pack chasing Manuel Pellegrini’s men. It has been a season of mixed fortunes for Pellegrini’s team in the Premier League, yet Saturday represents another opportunity for the Chilean’s side to recalibrate their ambitions and finish strongly in the top-half of the table.
Rotation can be expected for Spurs, given their mid-week game against Brighton combined with their Champions League semi-final against Ajax on Tuesday, and Pochettino is likely to shuffle his pack ahead of a crucial set of fixtures that have the potential to define not solely Tottenham’s season, but the Pochettino era in North London.
West Ham, however, should be the fresher of the two teams having not played since Saturday. The Hammers were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester City, but were unlucky not to have won the game with Lucas Perez wrongly given offside in the 88th minute when he scored West Ham’s third goal. Pellegrini will hope his side can use the disappointment of their draw against Leicester when they travel to Spurs on Saturday.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to rotate his team ahead of the Champions League tie against Ajax, yet this task becomes immeasurably more difficult as Moussa Sissoko, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela and Serge Aurier are all currently on the treatment table.
There is a chance Pochettino will rest some of his stars against the Hammers. Eric Dier will be pushing for a start in place of Victor Wanyama in the holding midfield spot, and another change could be Davinson Sanchez for one of Jan Vertonghen or Toby Alderweireld. Ben Davies could be another player to come in to the starting eleven at the left-back spot rather than the impressive Danny Rose.
Harry Winks is in contention to return to the squad as he has been recovering from a groin injury.
Pellegrini will be hoping to have Manuel Lanzini and Carlos Sanchez available for selection on Saturday. Sanchez has been out for the majority of the season after suffering a major knee injury against Macclesfield in October.
Pellegrini will be happy with how the team have performed in recent weeks, despite not getting the results they deserved. One selection headache the Chilean will have will be who he chooses to start the match in attack. Marko Arnautovic has not really performed since his transfer saga in January, and Javier Hernandez might miss the game with severe tooth trouble.
Lucas Perez could be in contention having scored against Leicester, and would represent the logical option, but it is clear he has a good impact from the bench. Pellegrini will likely stick with Arnautovic up top and change to Perez throughout the second half.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3): Lloris, Davies, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Trippier, Dier, Alli, Eriksen, Lucas, Son, Llorente.
West Ham United (4-1-3-2): Fabianski, Masuaku, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Zabaleta, Rice, Noble, Snodgrass, Anderson, Antonio, Arnautovic.
Prediction: Tottenham 2 West Ham 1
This game could go either way as West Ham have been in relatively strong form in recent weeks against Manchester United and Leicester City. The Hammers will also be well rested as they haven’t played since Saturday, but for Tottenham they are in the middle of a hectic schedule and will have an eye on the Champions League semi-final next week.
West Ham’s season is pretty much over but if they could do one more thing, they would love to be the first team to win at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Hammers have some history of this as well – they were the last team to beat Arsenal at Highbury and the first to beat them at the Emirates.
Tottenham will still have a quality side out even if it is second-choice and West Ham will have to be cautious in defence to stand a chance of winning.