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Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United: match preview

Filed: Friday, 18th March 2011
By: Preview Percy

He's grumpy at the best of times so you can imagine how bad Preview Percy has been all week after last weekend's shambles. Our man in the tartan blanket takes time out from giving the Meals On Wheels people a hard time to take a look at this weekend's visit to N17.....

Next up is a 12.45pm visit to White Hart Lane for our Premier League match with Spurs. TfL have gone for broke this weekend by closing both District and Victoria Lines. Add the early kick-off to the equation and transport chaos looks to be guaranteed.

Now before we start this preview I’d like to explain a few things for any visiting Spurs fans. What I’m about to write may seem pretty obvious but it seems that the popular stereotype of the average Spurs fan having a room temperature IQ may not be that inaccurate.

You see the last time I did one of these that mentioned Spurs, the poor editors of this site were swamped by semi-literate incoherent emails all complaining that I’d mistakenly called their Welsh international Gareth Bale 'Christian'. These little darlings rather seemed to miss the point that it was a bit of a joke – albeit one with some basis in fact.

Occasionally a few of us here at the Mike Jones Home for the Elderly Bewildered and Confused sneak out to our local hostelry (The Wayne Quinn Arms) for a few pints of Sanatogen and Tonic. One of the locals there upon whom we occasionally take pity is a Spurs supporter who we will call Brian. He has a nice shiny new sailor suit kit which he wears to every game that the pub shows on the big screen.

During one of our many debates (we keep the level low when Brian’s about so as not to exclude him) Brian claimed to be personally acquainted with a number of Spurs players, even claiming to have been at school with 'Christian' Bale. So, for the record, I am perfectly aware that Bale’s name is not Christian, just as I am aware that the striker with the surname 'Crouch' was not christened 'Burnham Upon' and that Defoe’s first name isn’t actually 'That Ungrateful Little T*at'.

While we’re at it – to those who moaned last time that I was writing about Spurs at all, the general idea of doing a match preview is that you mention the forthcoming opposition. I know from bitter experience that if I fail to do so the editors stop visiting me and cut off my supply of Werther’s Originals so you’re just going to have to lump it!

Spurs go into this match in fifth spot having got 48 points from their 28 matches so far. This is currently three points behind Chelsea who occupy the 4th of the 'so-called' Champions League positions, and six points clear of Liverpool over whom they have a game in hand in the race for the, er, coveted, Europa League spot.

Such is the general apathy about Europe’s second competition these days that you get the impression that teams would rather finish in fourth or sixth spots rather than pick up what, in terms of fixtures is something of a poisoned chalice. Unless of course you happen to be Liverpool who are so desperate for European competition next season they’re writing a song to enter just in case they don’t overhaul Spurs.

Current form in the league is, like ours, a bit Ted Rogers - 3-2-1 being the stats for the last six. The wins came over Blackburn at home (1-0) and Sunderland (2-1) and Bolton away (1-0). The draws were both on the road at Newcastle (1-1) and Wolves (3-3) whilst the reverse came at Blackpool (1-3).

Their last league outing was the match at Wolves where they were more than a little fortunate to be leading 3-2 as the match closed with the usually reliable Mark Halsey sparing them the hassle of playing with 10 men when Hutton’s tug on Milijas was deemed not to have prevented a goalscoring opportunity.

This was a decision that baffled even Harry Redknapp (or prisoner 46555352 as he will soon be known). The referee was in further generous mood as Gomes’ failure to gather a cross was deemed to have been the result of a foul by Stearman and, at the end of the match Fletcher’s 87th minute leveller was probably the least Wolves deserved.

Their home form this season has seen them win 7 draw 5 and lose just the once, that defeat coming against Wigan right at the start of the season. Having said that they haven’t played at home in the league since 5 February that match being the victory over Bolton.

The club spent much of the early part of this year trying to convince all and sundry that they should be the ones to move to the Olympic Stadium at Stratford. You can’t blame them for wanting to better themselves I suppose. I mean who wouldn’t want to move out of Harringay given half the chance.

Thankfully the blight on Newham property prices that would undoubtedly have occurred had they moved in won’t now occur. Harringay council weren’t keen on the move, having already co-operated with a major planning exercise only to find that Spurs’ attention had been on more pleasant pastures all along.

Spurs actions were a bit like asking the most comely lady at a dance for a spin around the floor then going back to her ugly mate when she turns you down. I imagine. Quite how the burghers of Harringay will react to being cast in the role of the fat bird in future negotiations remains to be seen.

On the selection side of things Christian Bale (Spurs supporters with limited attention spans might want to go back to the start at this point) will be available for selection following recent injury problems that have seen him on the bench in recent weeks. He’ll be keen to get back to the sort of form shown earlier in the season so that he’s fully fit to face his next employers in the Champions League quarter finals.

That ungrateful little t*at Defoe managed to score for the first time in 11 months up at Wolves. Amusing though that statistic sounds it does rather ignore the fact that he has spent rather a large portion of that time injured. Still it does sound funny though and he’ll be the usual threat.

At Wolves Defoe was partnered by Pavlyucenko with Peter “Burnham Upon” Crouch bumping his head on the dug-out roof.

In defence Gallas (hamstring) is out as are Huddlestone (ankle), Woodgate (Dyer’s Syndrome) and Palacios (knee). Van Der Vaart missed out against Wolves but survived an hour or so of the bus-parking exercise against AC Milan the other night so should be in the starting line-up.

And so what of us. Well our recent revival was derailed at the hands of referee Mike Jones last week – though the replay that we probably deserved would have done us few favours in the run-up to the end of the season so, in doing Stoke a favour maybe the official did us one too.

Team news is less than encouraging. No sooner does Keane return from injury than we have to leave him at home, Premier League rules forbidding him to play against his parent club. Piquionne is a doubt following Huth’s lunge last week – something else that Jones missed. Ba’s mysterious absence last weekend also looks likely to continue.

It’ll be interesting to see what sort of side is put out in defence. The idea of playing Tomkins at right back came about largely as a response to Stoke’s non-football, with Da Costa coming in to combat the aerial threat. This weekend will (hopefully) see a bit of football being played and so a different set of skills will be required. For that reason we may see Jacobsen resume at right back, though whether that would see Tomkins resume in the middle alongside Upson remains to be seen.

Prediction? Well it’ll be a tough one and history isn’t exactly on our side. Their performance against Wolves, however, gave cause for limited optimism. Their defence didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory that day and they did ride their luck a bit to come away with a point.

For us much will depend on whether the team can use the injustices of last weekend as a springboard for more positive things. If they can I’ll plump for an entertaining 2-2 draw as the quest for safety continues.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Lost 2-0 Already injury-hit (as usual) we lost Parker and Ilunga within 20 minutes as Defoe and Modric netted in an uninspiring match.

Referee: Mike Dean – simply the worst. We can but hope that he decides to even up the injustices of last weekend but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Danger Man: Defoe – a couple of goals against Wolves mean that his eye is beginning to get back in.

Daft fact of the week: Some Tottenham fans think that they will win the So-Called Champions’ League. Yes, really.

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.

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