West Ham United (Away)
Premier League

Monday 8th December 2008


The hype might be all about Harry Redknapp returning to Upton Park with his new club, but the real crux of this match will revolve about the three points on offer.  The Irons will be looking to gather them to move clear of the relegation bunch, while Tottenham will be hoping to take the spoils, which would put them above West Ham United in the table.

With a win over Sunderland last week, West Ham broke a poor run of results, but Sunderland are one of the current poorest form teams in the table and I hope Spurs will provide a sterner test for Gianfranco Zola's side.  The essence of the London derby making it a scrappy game has not been the case in the last few seasons, with goals galore, but because of the concerns at the wrong end of the league, both sides might be hoping it will be a tighter score-line.

Rob Green is a keeper who has been touted as a possible England goalie in time, but he has had a few set-backs in this quest to be recognised as a realistic contender.  Shot-stopping is his forte, but handling can be a weak point, so perhaps Spurs will need to test him with some searching crosses and shots.

The defence in front of him has not been a regular four, because of injuries, but Lucas Neill, Herita Ilunga, Matthew Upson and James Collins have been the preferred foursome.  Having suffered injured to centre halves and Anton Ferdinand being sold to Sunderland, the defence has had to be re-built a bit, with some settling in time needed to get used to each other.  However, Collins and Upson provide a tall pairing, with Upson the more dominant of the two, while Ilunga appears to have a liking for handling the ball if the Liverpool match was anything to go by, with Neill still being fed on red meat, so the chance of getting free-kicks around the box must be high.  Not that it helps us with our record from dead ball situations lately.  There may be situations where Lennon could switch to the left wing to have a run at Neill, as he has been drawn into rash challenges in the box on previous visits to Upton Park.  Ex-Spur Calum Davenport is still at West Ham, after a spell on loan at Watford that culminated in a serious neck injury.  Rumours have it that he will be one of the players on the way out of West Ham in January, but he is a good centre-half and his height gives him an added advantage at dead ball situations at both ends.

The midfield might contain Lee Bowyer, who is hoping to overcome a knock to play, which will give the Irons a bit of steel in the middle of the park, as the midfield is a little light otherwise.  Scott Parker tries to get stuck in, but lacks pace, while Julian Faubert and Hayden Mullins are not recognised ball-winners.  Faubert has yet to show exactly what he can do, as he was hit with a bad injury just after signing for West Ham, then being played out of position at full back earlier in the season.  A talented playmaker, he can open up defences with his accurate passing.  Summer signing Behrami is a hard worker and scored his first goal to win the points up at Sunderland.  His performances for Switzerland in the Euro 2008 competition showed he has a lot of energy and a bit of skill too.  Usually operating wide, he is also a good crosser of the ball.  Other options in midfield are Mark Noble, who impresses in the England Under-21 side, but not as much for his club; up and coming Jack Collison, who is industrious; the flighty winger well known to Spurs fans in Matthew Etherington, who needs to start realising the potential he had as a 16 year old and finally, the veteran Luis Boa Morte, who has a thing about Spurs and regularly gets into trouble with the referee, including getting senselessly sent off in the first half of the game at White Hart Lane last season.

Cole and Bellamy have been played as the front two in the absence of Dean Ashton, but Diego Tristan and Di Michele are both available options up front brought in this season.  Tristan scored a lot of goals in Spain for Espanyol, but has not had much chance to get playing time under his belt since signing as a free agent and the player from Torino, David Di Michele had a good game against Newcastle at the Boleyn, but has not made the headlines since.  A talented player, his adapting to English football may be taking a little longer than West Ham hoped.  Youngster Freddie Sears is getting more time on the pitch at the moment, but he is being brought through gently.

Spurs need to bounce back from the defeat against Everton and start stepping up their performances, as neither of the victories against Blackburn Rovers nor Watford were particularly convincing, so some passion and effort will be needed in this game.  With Jenas back and fully firing, hopefully with two forwards in front of him, as I don't think Modric will be risked, it might be possible to take the game to West Ham and put them under pressure form the off.

I don't think it will be a classic West Ham - Spurs match, but I think Tottenham can do just about enough to win narrowly ...

PREDICTION : -  West Ham United  0   Tottenham Hotspur   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


WEST HAM UNITED :  -  Daniel Gabbidon (groin); Dean Ashton (ankle); Kieron Dyer (broken leg); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); - (-); 


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West Ham United   0   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-2)

Premier League
Venue : -  Upton Park
Monday 8th December 2008
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   34,277
Referee :  Chris Foy (St. Helens)
Weather :  -  Rainy in spells through the game
Teams : - 
West Ham United :

  1  Green

  2  Neill
19  Collins
15  Upson
  3  Ilunga

21  Behrami     
17  Mullins (32  Di Michele 73)
  8  Parker (25  Tristan 83)
20  Faubert (16  Noble 58     )

12  Cole
10  Bellamy

Unused subs: 
24  Lastuvka
13  Boa Morte
27  Davenport
31  Collison


Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
26  King (c)  
39  Woodgate
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
  4  Zokora
  8  Jenas
  5  Bentley  (24  O'Hara 81 )

14  Modric

  9  Pavlyucehnko (Bent 54)

Unused subs: 
21  Sanchez
  3  Bale
  6  Huddlestone
20  Dawson
23  Boateng

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
West Ham United

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
West Ham United


Tottenham Hotspur

King 68
O'Hara 90

Cards : -  
West Ham United

Behrami (foul)  79
Noble (foul)  90


Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
With a 2-0 away win at Upton Park, Spurs leapfrog West Ham United and keep another clean sheet with a good performance by Heurelho Gomes, as the team clicked against a poor home team.

The performance of the team looked promising in the first half, when Tottenham had the best chances, but in the second half scored two of them to add another three points to the season's total.

It all started inside the first two minutes, when Aaron Lennon pulled a left wing cross back low to Bentley, who prodded the ball into Luka Modric's path and the Croatian's shot failed to have either accuracy or power to beat Robert Green in the Irons goal.  With a challenge for the ball that knocked Craig Bellamy to the ground, Didier Zokora got involved with the whingeing Welshman, while other clashes showed Lucas Neill trying to intimidate Roman Pavyluchenko and later in the match, Behrami going bonkers chasing around white shirts in the hope of getting a booking to add to his earlier one and disassociate himself with the shameful Hammers showing.

West ham's main tactic was to play a ball beyond the Spurs defence in the hope that Bellamy would lurk offside and get back onside in time to turn and head back towards goal with the Tottenham players left behind him.  Usually, the balls were too long for him to catch, but one he did get to was knocked wide, with Gomes doing enough to distract the striker.  It was funny, as every time West ham got a corner, the crowd started to get excited, but Gomes came for the ball and met them with good punches to clear the ball outside the box.

As for Tottenham, Assou-Ekotto floated a cross to the far post and David Bentley rose to head it, but could not get much power on it to trouble Green, although his later cross, when under no pressure, went high over the head of Pav, but by then the Irons had a goal disallowed, with Lucas Neill wrestling Jenas to the floor as a cross came in, forcing him to slice the ball past Gomes.  Bentley did considerably better when Collins headed out a cross straight to the winger in the box and he whipped a shot in on goal, only to see Green dive to palm the ball out.

When Lennon got away on the right, his low ball along the six yard box eluded everyone, apart from Roman at the far post, who slid in, but could not get around the ball sufficiently to direct it into goal and was frustrated to see the ball come back off the upright.  Play switched to the other end and Behrami knocked a good opportunity very high over the top, then Neill's cross, which was similar to that of Lennon's, could not be met, as Corluka did well stopping Faubert getting to it.

While the first half ended with Spurs rueing the missed chances, it took only ten minutes of the second period for Harry Redknapp to take Pavlyuchenko off and replace him with Darren Bent.  With Upson and Collins eating up all the long balls Spurs were feeding the lone striker, Bent's pace brought about a different style and encouraged to play the ball on the floor, which also suited Modric.

With Spurs working the ball well, a move on the right wing made some space for Vedran Corluka, who was getting forward and linking well with Lennon.  The defender put a cross into the West Ham penalty area, but Ilunga turned away and raised his arms, knocking the ball out for a corner.  Penalty ?  No chance with Foy being in close attendance and not noticing the Irons defender's movement.  A well crafted chance came on the hour when Aaron's low ball into the heart of the penalty area was met by Bent, who could not get a clean contact on it and the ball went wide.  With Bellamy still trying to hit long range shots to test Gomes, with them all flying off target, Zokora showed him how to do it, with a 40 yard run ending in a shot that dipped just in front of Rob Green, who managed to get behind the effort and deny Didier his first goal for the club.

But a minute later, Spurs took the lead when a right wing cross from Aaron Lennon invited Ledley King to race in to head unchallenged down and past the West Ham keeper.  He got there ahead of Bent and with Upson and Collins nowhere, had time to power his header into the ground.  It was a much needed goal and one that had been coming, although had taken 68 minutes to arrive.

Almost immediately, Spurs nearly went 2-0 up as Darren Bent was alive to a loose ball from Lennon's cross and his shot was deflected, ensuring it went into Green's arms and not the goal.  West Ham hit back with their first shot on target in the 72nd minute, as Carlton Cole struck a weal bobbling shot straight at Gomes, who collected with simplicity.  The home side brought on Di Michele for Mullins and the move almost paid dividends, as a corner fell to him and he manoeuvred around Assou-Ekotto before seeing Woodgate block his shot on goal.

Spurs were moving the ball well and running West Ham a merry dance.  Corluka and Bentley made good progress with the ball between them before playing in Modric, who let go a curler from just inside the area, but Collins headed it away.  It was Bentley's last action, as he was replaced by Jamie O'Hara and Tristan came on for Parker for West Ham.  With just a minute remaining, it was almost 1-1, when a corner failed to be cleared and it dropped for Lucas Neill to shoot, but Gomes got a good palm out on it.  The ball was returned in and with Michele standing precariously offside right in front of the goal inside the six yard box, he tried to knock the ball home, but only succeeded in hitting it straight at Gomes, who was the hero of the moment.

Within thirty seconds it was 2-0.  Bent broke away on the right wing with West Ham defenders still trying to get back and his square pass to O'Hara, found the young midfielder in acres of space.  Collins failed to shut him down and he let fly with a left foot shot that arrowed past Green and hit the net to confirm a three point victory for Tottenham in the last minute.  It was a fine strike and one which few keepers would have got near.

So, in the end, it was a double save by Gomes and a late clincher by O'Hara that took the eye, but the team effort was good today and the passing, at times, was very good.  A repeat on Saturday would also be most welcome !!





Reaction : -



Read Wyart Lane's comments on the game at the Times Online's Fanzine Fanzone by clicking here.
Purcell, you didn't mention Assou-Ekotto's great save with his arm, nudging Carlton Cole's effort on goal, when he just managed to get it past the post with his arm.  But then again, it is only fair that you didn't say anything about it, as Zola failed to mention the blatant two handed handball that Ilunga made in the West Ham penalty area.  Perhaps Zola is the new Wenger ??

On the whole, it was a very pleasing performance, with the passing getting better as the game went on.  I think it was that which ground West Ham down in the second half, as they were chasing around after the ball - sometimes like headless chickens.

Two good goals as well and good to see Ledley back on the score sheet. 

Shame we played the long ball too much to two great big centre-halves, but at least we learned from that and changed it to a shorter passing game, bringing West Ham out to try and close players down, but making space for others.

Three more useful points and extending the good run under Redknapp with some eminently winnable games coming up.






Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Liverpool 3 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Fulham 1 Manchester City 1 Saturday
Hull City 2 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Stoke City 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Aston Villa 3 Sunday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Portsmouth 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 16 11 4 1 24 9 37 +15
2 Chelsea 16 11 3 2 35 6 36 +29
3 Manchester United 15 9 4 2 27 10 31 +17
4 Arsenal 16 9 2 5 28 19 29 +9
5 Aston Villa 16 8 4 4 25 18 28 +7
6 Hull City 16 7 5 4 24 25 26 -1
7 Portsmouth 16 6 5 5 19 23 23 -4
8 Everton 16 6 4 6 22 25 22 -3
9 Bolton Wanderers 16 6 2 8 18 19 20 -1
10 Fulham 15 5 5 5 13 12 20 +1
11 Wigan Athletic 16 5 4 7 17 19 19 -2
12 Middlesbrough 16 5 4 7 16 23 19 -7
13 Stoke City 16 5 4 7 17 27 19 -10
14 Manchester City 16 5 3 8 30 24 18 +6
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 16 5 3 8 19 21 18 -2
16 West Ham United 15 5 3 8 17 24 18 -7
17 Newcastle United 16 3 7 6 19 24 16 -5
18 Sunderland 16 4 3 9 13 25 15 -12
19 Blackburn Rovers 16 3 4 9 17 31 13 -14
20 West Bromwich Albion 16 3 3 10 12 28 12 -16


Position before the match :  17th
Position after the match :  15th

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