West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

2 Mar

Diafra Sakho


West Ham forward Diafra Sakho could return from a thigh injury suffered in November.

TEAM NEWS

Tottenham will go top of the Premier League if they win at West Ham on Wednesday.

Leicester’s draw with West Brom on Tuesday means Spurs, who trail the Foxes by three points, can go top of the table on goal difference.

Spurs, who have not won the title for 55 years, last led the table in March or later in 1964, when they eventually finished fourth.

Their highest finish since then is third, on five occasions.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won their last six Premier League matches, a run dating back to a 1-0 defeat by Leicester in January.

After visiting Upton Park, they host third-placed Arsenal on Saturday, with the Gunners three points behind their north London rivals before they play Swansea on Wednesday.

For Spurs, midfielder Dele Alli is a fitness doubt because of a foot problem.

Tom Carroll has recovered from an Achilles tendon injury, while Mousa Dembele might return from a groin strain in time to face Arsenal on Saturday.

West Ham forward Diafra Sakho could be involved against Tottenham for the first time since suffering a thigh injury in November.

Sam Bryam is suspended, while Winston Reid, Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins and Enner Valencia are still injured.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

Jonathan Pearce: “Back in October I asked Mauricio Pocchetino why Tottenham’s declared ambition was just a top-four place. I had said in commentary they were good enough to win the league. He was guarded.

“I’ve been banging the drum for months. If they win this to notch up a seventh league win on the spin for the first time in nearly half a century and then beat Arsenal, the title can be theirs.

“But what a game this is. West Ham are playing brilliant football. They’re unbeaten at home since August. This is their last Upton Park derby with Spurs. The place is special under lights. Payet could win Footballer of the Year.

“The Hammers could easily win this and the title race will be wide open again.”

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on recent fan trouble in this fixture: “It’s a big match for both clubs. It should be a good game because of the position they are in, and we are in.

“The message is I would like the fans to be behind us, to be behind the team, behind the club in a positive way.

“The fans are ambassadors of our club and they can show the world that we are big, great and a polite club.”

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino on Claudio Ranieri’s suggestion that Tottenham are title favourites: “Mind games? No, it was a joke. I laughed a little bit.

“Our objective at the end of last season was clear, to reduce the gap with the teams at the top.”

“It is important to keep our level, our fitness, our mentality and we’ll see what happens. It’s too soon to speak about the end of the season.”

Kyle Walker<!–

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • West Ham have won only three of the last 17 Premier League meetings (W3, D3, L11).
  • There have been three red cards in the last two encounters at the Boleyn Ground.

West Ham United

  • West Ham are unbeaten in 13 league and cup games at home (W8, D5).
  • The Hammers have kept four clean sheets in their last six home games in the league.
  • Their tally of 43 points is their best at this stage of a Premier League season.
  • Michail Antonio has scored in four of his last five Premier League appearances at the Boleyn Ground.

Tottenham Hotspur

  • Spurs could win seven successive league matches for the first time in 49 years since March to May 1967.
  • They are unbeaten in 12 Premier League away games (W7, D5).
  • Tottenham have earned an unrivalled 17 points from losing positions this season, winning five of the 10 games in which they have trailed.
  • They have the best defensive record in the division and have only conceded more than one goal in three of their 27 matches.
  • Mauricio Pochettino’s side have the best record in London derbies so far this season, earning 11 points from five games (W3, D2). West Ham have nine points from just four derby matches.
  • Harry Kane has scored three goals in four league appearances against West Ham.

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