Tottenham have the chance to make it a magnificent seven Premier League wins in a row, but face a battle royal against London rivals West Ham United.
Although it was a performance that did not carry the same amount of verve as their FA Cup win at Blackburn Rovers the previous week, West Ham still had enough to see off lowly Sunderland last time out. Michail Antonio continued his terrific form by scoring another goal, an area to his game that adds to his impressive energy and work rate. If the summer signing remains such an effective part of the team, he could prove to be a huge asset for the Hammers in the times ahead.
Having only lost twice in all competitions since a comprehensive defeat in the reverse fixture back in November, Slaven Bilic’s men have little reason to fear Tottenham, and indeed they tend to raise their game against the more fancied teams, as seemingly does their undoubted player of the season so far Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman will have a tricky time as he takes on the Premier League’s best defence, but his quality ensures that it is certain to be an intriguing contest.
A question was asked of Tottenham when they fell behind at home to Swansea City on Sunday, but if any more proof was needed that they are in the title race for the long haul, they certainly provided it by scoring twice in eight second half minutes in order to remain the nearest challengers to leaders Leicester City. It was an afternoon made better by defeat for bitter rivals Arsenal, who they face in a critical North London derby at the weekend.
Both goals showed more evidence of how important the full-backs are to the current Spurs side, with Kyle Walker claiming an assist and Danny Rose drilling home the winner to cap an influential display. Their contribution will be vital in deciding the outcome again here, while there are plenty of legs in the midfield battle with the steady Eric Dier and the fierce competitiveness of Dele Alli taking on the industrious West Ham pair of Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble.
Sam Byram misses out for West Ham due to suspension, but Winston Reid and Enner Valencia may be in contention to return to the side.
Alli is expected to be fit for Tottenham despite picking up a foot injury against Swansea, but Mousa Dembele, Clinton N’Jie and Jan Vertonghen remain sidelined.
Last Meeting: It was a bad luck story for Sam Allardyce and West Ham on the opening day of last season as their dominance counted for nothing and they ended up losing it at the death.
Mark Noble fired wide from the penalty spot after Kyle Naughton was sent off for handball, before James Collins saw red for a second yellow card. Just when it looked as if it would end in a goalless draw, Eric Dier ran through to round Adrian a tuck the ball in on his Spurs debut.
Played for both – Jermain Defoe: The England striker spent the first five years of his professional career at West Ham and showed real promise in scoring 18 goals in 74 top-flight appearances. He was a popular figure during his first spell at Tottenham between 2004 and 2008, while his second spell saw him achieve a similar goals return and feature for them in the Champions League.
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