Heading into the London Derby, the recent form of Tottenham and West Ham could not be more different. With Ange Postecoglou’s side weathering an injury storm and the Hammers flying once again under David Moyes, how will this fixture turn out?
Spurs vs West Ham Tactical Preview: Wide Forwards Key to Result for Either Team
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Brennan Johnson vs Vladimir Coufal on Right Flank Could Decide Game
A lot of Tottenham’s attacking threat comes from their wide forwards; whether it’s Richarlison, Brennan Johnson, Dejan Kulusevski, or even Bryan Gil, the wide forwards are pivotal to Spurs’ attack. In this match, Johnson will have the tricky task of getting away from Coufal to create opportunities for his teammates as well as marking the Czech full-back as he often marauds forward to create chances of his own. The Welshman’s lightning-fast pace can effectively exploit the area left by the Hammer.
Ange Postecoglou’s men have played one way this season, all-out attacking with high-energy pressing and an even higher defensive line. They stick to the game plan regardless of the opposition or personnel available, as seen over the last few weeks. This makes the battle between the Spurs wingers and West Ham fullbacks so intriguing; they will have to balance attack and defense perfectly.
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Lilywhites’ Inverting Fullbacks to Cause Midfield Overload
One of the most prominent features of Spurs’ play this season has been the use of their inverting fullbacks. Destiny Udogie and Pedro Porro, the most selected fullback pair, are instructed to venture into midfield to lend support to the attack. This will also be a key area of the pitch where Spurs can look to take advantage of as Moyes usually sets up his side with two holding and one attacking midfielder.
West Ham this season have also seemingly returned to the style of play that saw them successful in Europe last season. They are choosing to sit deep and defend with a low block and hit on the counterattack through quick, decisive players such as Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Mohammed Kudus.
This has proven effective thus far and will pose Spurs some problems, similar to how the Hammers beat the North Londoners in preseason. In that game, which was also Ange Postecoglou’s first game in charge, Moyes’ men sat deep, defended well and countered incisively. Granted, it was a pre-season game and merely an opportunity for players to get minutes before the season started, it can be used to compare the styles of the opposing managers.
Will Hammers Be More Adventurous?
In his post-match press conference following the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, David Moyes called for his team to be more “adventurous”. In the interview, the Scotsman stated that he wanted his players to take more risks and play with a bit more personality.
Does this mean that the usually safe West Ham will play a bit more expansively on Thursday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium? Only time will tell us that, but if they do, it can work to the home team’s advantage as they will have more space to exploit, and it could also lead to greater opportunities for effective counter-pressing situations.
Traditionally, West Ham have been Tottenham Hotspur’s bogey team. We only have to look back at the mad 3-3 draw in October 2020 to see this, but Spurs are breaking some stereotypes this season and should win this one in front of a boisterous home crowd.