Pochettino, as Spurs manager, has yet to lose a league game to either the Gooners or the Hamsters and if that statement is still true come 3pm on Saturday then he’ll have done a good job. If he’s managed to sneak three points from the weekend’s NLD or tonight’s game at Upton Park then he’ll have done a great one.
Mark Ignoble from the spot
Our victory in East London last season was won via a battling ten man performance, a couple of world class saves from Hugo and a last minute debut goal from Eric Dier. If we think we’ve come a long way since that lovely August day in 2014 then West Ham would probably probably point to themselves in response.
Whilst many of the players involved in their battle for a European place, they currently lie sixth and are in a Europa League spot, are the same as were there under Allardyce, Slaven Bilic has moulded them into a very different kind of beast but most significantly added a magic ingredient in the shape of Dimitri Payet. Talk to a Hammer and you’ll think they’ve discovered a new Gareth Bale Messiah and certainly it’s hard to argue with his goal scoring and creation stats, both this season and also at Marseille.
But he’s 28 and so where has he been hiding, under the same rock as Jamie Vardy? It doesn’t matter of course, he’s just one of eleven out to try and cause us damage but he is the key difference between now and the last time we played the Irons.
Na na na na…
That beautiful Sunday afternoon in November will be remembered for the moment Hey Jude perfectly matched the zeitgeist. Payet wasn’t their only injury problem that day and we’ll face a home side much changed in mood as well as personnel. Whilst they’ve not been swatting people aside at home they’ve been doing ok and are unbeaten since August.
Tonight they’ll be driven on by a passionate crowd who appear to be so blinded by a hate first, think second policy that they view us as mortal enemies. I’ve never understood why. We though won’t be worried about that. We have our eyes on a prize, a prize that, due to Leicester’s inability to overcome the Baggies last night, is technically in our hands. If anything is motivation enough, that’ll be it.
We can expect a bit of tinkering from Poch following Sunday’s win. The full back ‘teams’ will swap over, Alli may well be given a day off after knacking himself in Sunday’s warm up with perhaps Mason starting alongside Dier though there is an option of him playing Alli’s role with with Bentaleb coming in for Son. Lots of options, but the main brief should be to hold firm at the start, and see where we go from there.
33 points to go
After tonight we’ll have ten games, ie more than a quarter of the season, left, but the excitement is already becoming unbearable. At the final whistle at the King Power Twitter was full of people proclaiming how sick they felt, this after a result that leaves us 3 points off the lead with two of our trickiest games of the season imminent.
There’s a way to go before we should be thinking of anything more than cementing a top four place – good luck convincing anyone with blue and white blood running through their veins of that though.
Andre Marriner is down to referee.
Let’s do ’em!
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