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Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham Preview

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I hope this happens a few times
I hope this happens a few times

Another weekend, another game that Spurs should win. Despite their draw against Stoke last week, West Ham are a pretty poor team by almost anyone's standard. Their defense and goalkeeping situation is a joke and Carlton Cole is not playing anywhere near his talent level.

However, West Ham do not have Europe to think about. The Hammers can and will play their best eleven players available. There's a very strong chance that Spurs will play their best available eleven, but there is an equally good chance that some of the stars will be reserved for the mid-week fixture against FC Twente.

Between this thread and Ryan Rosenblatt's fan post, we had a pretty good discussion on what Spurs should and will do with their next few fixtures. I'm still not sure where exactly Harry's priorities lie, but we're almost certainly going to see a strong team in both games with probably 3-4 changes between this weekend's lineup and the lineup against Twente. The match against Aston Villa the following weekend has to be considered as well. Harry has his hands full.

My best guess is that Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart will each start one of the games and have a role off the bench in the other. Aaron Lennon is likely to be the same deal, although I could see him starting in both. Ledley King will obviously feature in one and not the other. I think that Gareth Bale and Peter Crouch will be asked to start and play long minutes in both matches. I'm iffy on Tom Huddlestone. I think that last year, Wilson Palacios would have started one game and Huddlestone the other. This year, with Palacios's current form, Huddlestone may be forced into starting both games. Since he sat out the Carling Cup match completely, I would assume that he's perfectly capable of this.

As for the game against West Ham, they're a team we're better than leaps and bounds on form but not quite as much on talent. If all of West Ham's players play to the best of their abilities, they're a mid-table side. It's just been a while since any West Ham player other than Scott Parker has played to the best of their abilities, and we've never seen this group of players do it together.

If Carlton Cole wakes up tomorrow morning remembering that he's a really good footballer, we might be in trouble. If Robert Green wakes up tomorrow and remembers that he was once a great shot stopper, we might be in trouble. However, nothing that either of these players has show indicates that they are good players right now. 

So could West Ham beat us? Sure. They would just have to play better than they have all season. We know Carlton Cole has a two goal game in him and we know Robert Green has an eight save game in him. We just haven't seen any reason to believe they'll be coming out soon.

There is that little nagging problem of our injuries in defense, though. Hopefully the healthy guys can get the job done.

Projected Spurs Lineup (4-4-1-1): Cudicini / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas, Hutton / Bale, Huddlestone, Jenas, Lennon / van der Vaart / Crouch

Projected West Ham Lineup (4-3-3):  Green / Gabbidon, Upson, Da Costa, Jacobsen / Parker, Noble, Kovac / Obinna, Piquionne, Cole

Prediction:  Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 West Ham United