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Tottenham vs West Ham Utd: match preview

Filed: Sunday, 27th December 2009
By: Staff Writer

So on Monday we face the Team That Doesn't Care About Us for a fifth time in the last calendar year - and quite frankly, it's about time we put one over on them.

Gianfranco Zola's record isn't exactly exemplerary where our geographically-closest Premier League neighbours are concerned - in the last four meetings, all since December 2008 the Irons have lost each and every time.

Last December, second half goals from Ledley King and Jamie O'Hara saw Spurs win 2-0 at the Boleyn. Revenge was exacted on O'Hara, at least, on Boxing Day when he was part of the defeated Portsmouth side, where he is currently 'enjoying' a spell on loan.

The Team That Doesn't Care About Us then won the return fixture in April through a Roman Pavlyuchenko goal - although the Russian is unlikely to repeat that feat having fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane.

More misery for United ensued on the otherwise-splendid trip to China when Jermain Defoe's 75th minute strike was enough to condemn the Irons to defeat in the Asia Cup semi-final. Zola and his side then suffered a fourth consecutive defeat in August's Premier League encounter at the Boleyn when Carlton Cole scored a belter before setting up Defoe for the equaliser with a stunning through ball; Aaron Lennon winning the game late on.

I suppose we should briefly pause to reflect on the purported rivalry that has come to be associated with this particular fixture. For some reason, elements of those who follow the Team That Doesn't Care About Us proudly boast that they are West Ham's biggest rivals; a theory that was shot to pieces (if it ever needed doing so) when Millwall ventured across the river earlier this season for the Carling Cup tie. Although media reports of 'riots' were vastly exaggerated, and continue to be so, the atmosphere during the game that night could never be matched in a fixture between the teams from E13 and N17.

Ironically perhaps given those aforementioned dismissive claims it is always the case that this particular KUMB.com match preview generates the most responses from opposition supporters - mostly mentioning things like 'your cup final', 'pikeys' (have they ever actually been to Tottenham, one wonders), 'Upton Pakistan' and other even less savoury terms of abuse. Oh, and there is of course the ubiquitous refrain 'We Just Don't Care About You'; it would almost certainly be a waste of time to suggest the feeling is mutual.

When all the verbal jousting is done and dusted one thing stands true - both West Ham and Tottenham are proud clubs with illustrious histories that both dream of emulating what they once were. The introduction of the Champions League has destroyed the national league competition as a level playing field and although Tottenham are clearly better placed at present to tweak the ear of the financial elite neither possess the capacity, at present, to sustain a long-term challenge to the established 'top four'. But we can all dream; why else would we be football supporters?

On to less trivial things. Tottenham, as they shall now correctly be known for the remainder of this article are resurgent this season under Harry Redknapp and have exceeded all expectations (bar those of their more tiresome supporters who appear to believe in the misguided notion that because they were a decent side 20 years back they have a right to compete with those perenially in Champions League positions) will probably line up something like this:

Gomes, Corluka, King, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Modric, Huddlestone, Palacios, Lennon, Crouch, Defoe.

Gomes in goal looked like a disastrous signing when he first arrived in England, making a series of notable errors - but has proved to be an able guardian this season. Corluka and Assou-Ekotto at full back have been effective whilst Ledley King is as strong as ever - when he plays. Now fit having recovered from a hamstring he could well start. Dawson alongside him has struggled at times to live up to expectation since moving from Nottingham Forest four years ago but has matured into a competent, if unspectacular centre half. Sebastien Bassong, who played for 89 minutes against Fulham is also a contender.

Into midfield and Huddlestone and Palacios should fill the central roles, with the summer signing from Wigan likely to be charged with minimising the threat of United's England prospect Scott Parker. Huddlestone is another who has taken his time to find consistency but having been rested for Boxing Day's goalless draw at Fulham is almost certain to start. Palacios has settled in well since making the £12million move south and should be fresh having also been rested on Boxing Day, presumably as a result of him being one booking away from suspension.

£16million signing Luka Modric is still feeling his way back from serious injury but could be included although another former Portsmouth player, Nico Kranjcar is also in contention. The tricky Aaron Lennon will be one of the biggest threats to the Irons should he start. Surprisingly perhaps his winner at the Boleyn Ground back in August was one of only three goals for the England winger this season - although only Arsenal's Fabregas and Man Utd's Giggs have provided more assists in the Premier League thus far this season.

Up front and the sometimes sublime, sometimes ridiculous Peter Crouch should get the nod ahead of the unsettled Robbie Keane. His partner in crime is well known to us for his goals as a West Ham United player plus those for Portsmouth and his current employers. Defoe, possibly England's most natural goalscorer at this moment in time has looked a class apart since joining West Ham from Charlton as a 16-year-old when he started his professional career alongside Daniel Sjolund in the United reserves, and is now finally beginning to realise his full potential.

Forever tainted due to the circumstances surrounding his exit from West Ham, Defoe has, to his credit, apologised for the manner in which he left the club and steadfastly refused to openly celebrate scoring against the Irons, despite continuing to receive the Frank Lampard Junior treatment from the less forgiving members of the Bobby Moore Lower. He will, and should, expect nothing different on Monday.

Meanwhile curses, like chickens, come home to roost... Earlier this month Harry Redknapp, the darling of the gutter press was told he was finally being put in front of the beak for tax-related offences. Naturally the rather-less-cheery-of-late Redknapp denies all charges and insists he will beat the taxman in court... Well it has to happen one day, I guess.

News of Redknapp's purported indiscretions were publicly shrugged off by Tottenham who insisted that they would continue to back their manager; one wonders whether they would have been so forgiving had his team not put together such an impressive string of results of late.

Zola meanwhile should name a side similar to that which beat Portsmouth 2-0 at the Boleyn on Boxing Day. Rob Green, whose run of consecutive Premier League starts recently topped the 100 mark will start between the sticks whilst Julien Faubert and Herita Ilunga, both noticeably better against Pompey will take the full back slots. Matthew Upson, who is rumoured to have turned heads at White Hart Lane has contributed to West Ham's improvement in defence whilst James Tomkins should get the nod to partner the England man.

Scott Parker and Radoslav Kovac, midfield enforcers both will protect the back four. The little and large duo have been impressive in their last two outings against Chelsea and Portsmouth with Parker landing two man of the match awards and Kovac a goal on Saturday. Jack Collison, despite playing within himself recently should get the nod to start whilst Valon Behrami could replace the injured Mark Noble. Alessandro Diamanti, with three goals from his last three appearances is a certainty barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Up front Guillermo Franco should again get the opportunity to continue his good run of form as a lone striker. The only real question is whether Luis Jimenez, who was involved in both goals on Boxing Day will be selected ahead of Valon Behrami, who is still not fully fit having only returned to action following surgery at the weekend.

With Tottenham currently the third best team in London and harbouring European hopes, and West Ham looking to continue their rise away from danger the game promises to be yet another cracking London derby between two sides that have proved anything but shy in front of goal this season. Tottenham's tally of 40 goals has only been bettered by Chelsea (43) and Arsenal (44), whilst the Irons' 28 is the eighth highest in the Premier League - a number that belies West Ham's current league placing of 17th.

You have to go back ten years to find a West Ham win at White Hart Lane; Ian Wright and Marc Keller put United two up before David Ginola notched a late consolation for Spurs. Monday's meeting will be the 134th game between the two sides with Tottenham leading by 56 wins to 43 at present, with 34 draws.

Enjoy the game, and have a safe and Happy New Year.

Last season: 0-1. Second half substitute Pavlyuchenko's 65th minute close range effort won the day.

Referee: Chris Foy. Last in charge of West Ham on November 29th for the 5-3 win against Burnley. Erroneously dismissed Scott Parker for a supposed infringement against Cesc Fabregas during the 2-2 draw against Arsenal at the Boleyn in October.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe. The difference for Tottenham and quite possibly England next summer.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Preview Percy
10:22AM 29th Dec 2009
''Charley - as I am on well-earned leave at the moment we got our Staff Writer to cover this one. And a good job he did as well!


by Tell it how it is Charley
09:49AM 28th Dec 2009
''The only fact that you've left out Preview Percy, look what Redknapp has done for Portsmouth, Southampton, Portsmouth & West Ham. This man certainly likes to spend bringing clubs to their knees financially. Let's hope he does the same for Spurs! Five years from now they'll all be playing each other in the 3rd division (or what ever it's called now).

Tottenham a big club? One of the biggest jokes in football!''

by neil the yido
09:43AM 28th Dec 2009
''As a Yido you might not beleive me when I say I have a soft spot for the Hammers, but if we play like we know we can then it will be one sided today. I think they might escape from the drop, but to be honest if we turn up with our attitude right we will win. The Spurs are great when attacking, so the Hammers will have to be at their very best to stop Defoe and co.

Before I finish I personally still think the Goons is our biggest rivals, and the biggest fixture of the season. But respect to you lot great support around the south east, But not world wide like us. ''

by Danspur
09:01AM 28th Dec 2009
''Good to read a fair and balanced preview from a West Ham fan. I'm looking forward to a good game today. Your best chance is to crowd the midfield, as Fulham did, and not give us time. The games we've lost this season (top three apart), have all been to teams who have outworked us, put men behind the ball and caught us with a sucker punch. Huddlestone in particular can look a world-beater when allowed the space to play, but can be totally ineffective when closed down. If we manage to get Lennon plenty of the ball then it'll be a Spurs win, but I'm not as confident as most Tottenham supporters.

Incidentally, Palacios was signed last January, not in the summer, and was not rested against Fulham.''

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