West Ham United prepare to host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon in a fixture which is tantalisingly difficult to predict.
That the last 5 fixtures between the two clubs have conjured up 18 goals suggests the pending fixture is one which should provide plenty of excitement and attacking intent.
Whilst the two clubs are not the fiercest of London rivals, their relative proximity adds an extra spice to the fixture which should stir up a fiery encounter at the London Stadium.
Although appearances would suggest that Tottenham have started the season in unspectacular fashion, it’s worth noting that they go into the game just two points off 1st place Manchester City.
Meanwhile, West Ham have banished their early season demons and climbed into 15th place with 7 points from their last 4 fixtures, including an emphatic 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
It’s a game which is finely poised as the Hammers possess the tendency to go up a gear when they are presented with opposition who, on paper at least, are regarded as superior.
And that’s a factor which seemingly has prompted Mark Lawrenson to predict that the London derby will finish 1-1 in his regular BBC column.
Whilst leg spinning extraordinaire Shane Warne tipped West Ham to record a 1-0 victory over Spurs, Lawrenson claimed that the home side ‘are solid enough to hold Spurs.’
But Lawrenson has offered a word of warning to Manuel Pellegrini’s men and identified the one player they must shackle in order to achieve the desired result.
‘The key to that happening (containing Spurs) is for the Hammers to hold up Harry Kane. He was excellent for England against Spain, so it is West Ham’s turn to deal with him now.’
Kane has taken on plenty of responsibility at international level since Gareth Southgate took charge, and his ability to combine his goal-scoring instincts with deep-lying creative tendencies has made him one of the most difficult centre-forwards to mark on the planet.
He will drop deep to influence the game before peeling off the shoulder of the last man just moments later. It’s an elusive style which makes him one of the world’s best centre-forwards, if not the very best, and Lawrenson’s admission is certainly spot on.
Tottenham possess a multitude of talented players who are all capable of making it an afternoon to forget for West Ham but, if they are able to contain the most pivotal cog in Pochettino’s machine, there is no doubt that they are capable of clinching a point at the very least.
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