Holy crap, another match so soon? Yep! Tottenham Hotspur host West Ham on Tuesday in their second match of the new, compressed post-COVID Premier League season. There’s good news if you’re a Tottenham Hotspur fan — the two players that Jose Mourinho complained that he didn’t have against Manchester United are back, and Spurs now have a fully healthy (if not, perhaps, fully fit) attack for tomorrow’s London derby.
Mourinho, in his pre-match press conference, said that Dele Alli will return after serving his one-match suspension, and Lucas Moura, who missed the Manchester United draw with a late knock, is also back and ready to play. And Mou is thrilled to have them back.
“They’re all players that I like very, very much. I always liked the players here when I arrived and then in January we got Bergwijn. Bergwijn, Lamela, Lucas, Sonny, Dele and Harry – six attacking players, all different, all very good.
“It’s the first time I have all of them available which is the kind of problem that we coaches just love.”
But what does that mean for Spurs’ starting lineup? Could either/both of those players slot into the starting XI against the Hammers? Mourinho was a lot more cagy about that answer.
“Again, it’s one of these problems that we love. The problems that we hate were the problems I had for a long period when everybody was injured. Another problem we also don’t like when you want to change a player and you don’t have one on the bench from the same position.
“As I told you in the last game, we had lost of options in defence and midfield but without Lucas and Dele and by playing with the other four from the beginning, we were a little short.
“But our squad is amazing in these attacking positions so now we have six guys so I can try to choose well, which is what I always try to do. Try to read the game and use the guys on the bench in the right moment so they can also make an impact on the game. It’s great to have all six available.”
How will Tottenham line up against West Ham?
Mourinho’s lineup against Manchester United may have baffled a lot of Spurs fans at the beginning (myself included) but there was a logic there that made sense in retrospect — Mou’s decision to set up in a low block and play Mourinho-ball counterattacking football made the decisions of using Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez in the back line and the omission of Tanguy Ndombele for Harry Winks acceptable choices against a United side with solid talent and who liked to keep the ball.
West Ham’s a different animal. Spurs should be able to play possession football (if they want to) and attack West Ham, though they’ll need to be wary of West Ham’s counterattack as well. For that reason, I think we may see a slightly different lineup than we did on Friday.
I’d like to see Spurs set up again in that 4-2-3-1 with Serge Aurier bombing forward and Ben Davies dropping into a back three when attacking. Considering Mourinho’s comments in the press conference, I think we’ll see Lucas starting the match and Steven Bergwijn as a substitute option, especially considering the short time in between matches and the need for rest and rotation. Despite the hemming and hawing, I expect we’ll see Dele back in the 10 role behind Kane with Gio, still coming up to full fitness, as a sub option.
I’d like to think that this is a match built for Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele in midfield, but I’m not going to be confident that Mourinho selects Ndombele until he actually selects Ndombele. Nevertheless, I’m sticking my neck out and predicting a Sissombele midfield.
West Ham isn’t United, but they can be dangerous, 2-0 loss to Wovles this weekend aside. And they almost always seem to play up above their record when facing Spurs because they seem to care a lot more about this derby than Spurs do. Still, I’m pretty confident Tottenham have the offensive horses to put the Hammers away. If not, then Mourinho doesn’t really have any excuses left.
That’s my prediction for Tottenham Hotspur’s lineup vs. West Ham. What’s yours?