Rafael Van der Vaart - Tottenham news

It’s Upton Park on Saturday afternoon and it’s Hammers Time!

After four defeats to open the season Avram Grant’s face was starting to look as baggy as Stanley Burrell’s ‘parachute’ pants but a point at Stoke last weekend and a Carling Cup win at Sunderland on Tuesday will have helped him lose that saggy feeling, for the moment anyway. It’s not an emotion that seems to have spread to the West Ham fans; they’re struggling to sell out this game, traditionally one of their biggest of the season. Clearly the regulars at the Boleyn don’t like what they’ve seen in their two games thus far, defeats to Bolton and Chelsea.

And talking of not liking what they’re seeing, the White Hart Lane crowd voted with their feet on Tuesday. As Chamakh went down, the plastic seats tipped up and for those who remembered the 4-4 and still retained hope in their hearts, the view of Pletikosa’s dive in vain was blocked by those heading for the train.

It’ll be a very different XI this time out of course. Few of the players on show during the week did anything to force themselves into the reckoning for this game (one probable exception is Robbie who with his effort alone will have brought a few fans back onside if nothing else), more in fact probably played themselves out of it.

Assuming Crouch et al are fit it’s hard to see Redknapp starting with anything but the big fella up front with a midfield five behind him made up of some combination of Modric, VdV, big Tom, Bale and Jenas. The midfield will have a battle on their hands, Behrami, Parker and Noble won’t be afraid to get stuck in. The defence is the bit of the team with most crocks. Assuming Kaboul is out and that Ledley’s going to be kept for Wednesday, then my guess would be Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas and Hutton. It’s a guess though as I say.

In theory there should be no reason for anyone in the away end to leave early from this game. On paper we should have too much for them despite the shortage of decent strikers and the creeping injury virus that’s affected every area of the team. This is though a big game for the Hamsters and the crowd will get behind them if we let them into the game. We’ll have to work for it but if we start at a good tempo, as we did last week, we should beat them for the sixth time in a row. It won’t be easy though.


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