After a heroic result against the club that Tottenham Hotspur (somehow) always enjoys facing, Thursday brings a fixture that is never fun to play. Spurs have not won any sort of match since late October, but hopefully that changes against West Ham United in the second of seven December contests.
No one has faulted Ange Postecoglou for this slump given the number of key absences, but the return of Cristian Romero — combined with Sunday’s excellent draw — should help get the team back on track. Spurs are still in solid table position, but will need to survive a busy month with whatever players are available.
West Ham sits near the middle of the pack, boasting a goal difference of zero. The Hammers beat Chelsea in the second week of the season, but lost to both Manchester City, Liverpool, and Aston Villa, so a Tottenham win is the expectation. West Ham has taken seven points from the past three matches, though the quality of opponent was far from daunting.
Of course this is never a straightforward fixture for Spurs, but at least this is at home. The clubs drew at the London Stadium last season, but Emerson Royal and Heung-Min Son scored in the reverse fixture victory in February. Simply put, a loss here (and probably a draw as well) would feel very annoying, and that is warranted given this squad’s potential.
Tottenham Hotspur (t-5th, 27pts) vs. West Ham United (9th, 21 pts)
Date: Thursday, December 7
Time: 3:15 pm ET, 8:15 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
TV: USA Network (USA), Amazon Prime Video (UK)
West Ham is kind of just average at everything, at least when it comes to the main metrics. Jarrod Bowen is leading the way with eight league goals, perhaps picking up some of the slack left by Declan Rice. Tomas Soucek is second with four goals, having scored twice in the past three matches. Aside from those two, there has not been a ton of production.
Spurs will want to play openly and continue to show aggression, and West Ham may oblige them. As a result, expect some opportunities on both ends, which should favor the home side. Even with the current XI, Tottenham is better suited to capitalize in the box and can take all three points — provided it can hang onto a lead for the first time in a while.
Lilywhite Spotlight: Finding a home for Kulusevski
After a strong showing in a central role against Villa, Dejan Kulusevski again looked in good in this spot against City. However, a halftime substitution of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for Bryan Gil sent Kulusevski back out wide, and he succeeded in his more traditional role as well, of course scoring the late equalizer.
With Giovanni Lo Celso surprisingly in form and Pape Matar Sarr looking to return soon, Kulusevski is likely headed back on the wing, although a healthy Richarlison means Postecoglou does have more attacking options to keep his formations fluid. Ultimately it might be less about where Kulusevski’s name is on the team sheet and more about where he roams throughout the match, and expect him to stay in good form on Thursday.