Dimitri Payet is West Ham’s best player and one of the few bright spots in what has been a pretty miserable campaign thus far for the Irons. However, despite the Frenchman’s obvious goal-scoring threat, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says that his Spurs side won’t change their tactics to try and stop him when they host West Ham on Saturday.
"We never play like this. We have played against top players during my two and a half years at Tottenham and you can see we never focus on that type of player, like Eden Hazard or David Silva who can change a game.
"It never was my intention, when I started out as a manager, facing Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, to try to do something special or be focused on trying to stop this type of player.
"The most important thing is to try to recover the ball quickly, to have the ball more than them, to try to focus on how we need to damage our opponent.
"The players who are in his zone need to be aggressive, tight, try to anticipate, and not give him space to play.
"It's true that we're talking about that. But it's not a special mark on him."
West Ham rode Payet — and a streak of hot shooting and shot conversion — to seventh place in the table last season, but since then the shots and the goals have dried up. Even so, it’d be foolish for Spurs to discount the threat that Payet represents.
That said, Payet isn’t Lionel Messi, and Spurs have gotten results from much better sides and with better players than Dimitri Payet. Pochettino’s tactical system relies on his players recognizing their roles and executing at a high level – while Spurs will no doubt be aware of Payet’s danger when they play, Poche is without question confident of his defense’s ability to close him down and to do it without compromising the rest of the team’s overall tactics.
It’s a sign of a confident manager who believes in his players. And it will hopefully work.