In what was supposed to be the start of the busy festive period, Tottenham Hotspur actually went a full 10 days without any matches before Sunday’s draw against Liverpool. That showing should be seen as an encouragement and puts Antonio Conte at 3-2-0 in the league since taking over, with plenty of promise ahead.
Covid pending, next week has three more fixtures on the schedule, all winnable and all necessary victories as the team is just about to jump into the top four. Up first, though, is a League Cup quarterfinal tie against despised West Ham United, who took three points in a 1-0 win during October.
Rotation is super important during this time, and illnesses make this even tougher. However, it is hard to throw away a shot at reaching the semifinals of a cup, especially with the Conference League now out of the picture. This cannot be Spurs’ top priority, but beating West Ham to make it to the penultimate round is enticing.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United
Date: Wednesday, December 22
Time: 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: ESPN+ (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
West Ham is not in great form right now, having won just one of its last six matches. The Hammers do have win over Chelsea and Liverpool, however, and also beat Spurs at home in one of Nuno Espirto Santo’s final matches. They currently sit fifth in the table, though will likely be passed by Tottenham once some postponements are made up.
Conte absolutely must rest some key players here, but the squad is starting to show that maybe there is enough depth to feel decent about. Sunday’s match saw players like Dele Alli, Harry Winks, and Ryan Sessegnon all look starting caliber, so mix-and-matching should not be a death knell by any means. The league is the main focus, but rotation is going to happen either way, so there will be a smattering of regulars out there on Wednesday.
- Tottenham got here by outlasting Wolves on penalties in the Third Round then winning 0-1 at Burnley in the Fourth Round. The match was scoreless for the first 67 minutes, but a solid cross from Emerson Royal found the head of Lucas Moura, and that proved to be enough to advance.
- Meanwhile, West Ham has had quite the road to get here. A Third Round date with Manchester United was settled by an opener in the first 10 minutes, and that has been the only open-play goal in either fixture thus far. After a goalless draw against Manchester City, the Hammers took care of business in penalties to reach the quarterfinals.
- Should Tottenham advance, there is unlikely to be an easy draw next round. Arsenal drew the only non-top flight team (of course), Chelsea face local rival Brentford, and one of Liverpool or Leicester City will be the fourth team in the semifinals. This could be a very intense ending.