Manager Antonio Conte returned the list after declining to place the responsibility for Tottenham’s 1-0 UCL loss away to AC Milan during the previous week on the team’s major absentees. While the club prepares for a series of home London derbies in the Premier League (PL), the manager will spend an undetermined amount of time at home in Italy recovering from gallbladder surgery. With assistant Cristian Stellini, who managed their recent PL victory over Manchester City when Conte was initially absent, the team should be in capable hands.
Tottenham cannot afford a repetition of the draws they suffered against their next two opponents, West Ham United and Chelsea, during the seven-game unbeaten streak (W5, D2) that opened their PL season. Spurs enter this round two points behind fourth-placed Newcastle and have played one additional PL match. Yet, Spurs have a solid case for winning here after winning all five of their home PL games against teams ranked 12th or lower entering the round by an aggregate score of 17-6.
Hammers manager David Moyes appears to be beginning to replicate his heroics of 2017–18, when he led the team out of the relegation zone in his first season at the club, supported by what he described as a “very supportive” board. The two-point cushion they possessed over the relegation zone during the week has to be extended, but encouraging 1-1 draws against Newcastle and Chelsea suggest they have what it takes to avoid the drop.
Given that Moyes is apparently welcome at the club as long as he can keep producing European football, West Ham will need all the points they can get against Tottenham and Nottingham Forest in February. Although obviously a long shot, Moyes will still want to concentrate on the FA Cup or UEFA Europa Conference League, both of which can be won without jeopardizing his team’s chances of remaining in the Premier League.
Against Tottenham and Nottingham Forest in February, West Ham will need all the points they can get, especially as it has been stated that Moyes is welcome at the team as long as he can keep producing European football. Winning the FA Cup or the UEFA Europa Conference League, two tournaments Moyes will want to concentrate on without forgoing Premier League survival, may still achieve that goal, though it would be an obviously long shot.
Observe these players: Son Heung-min has failed to score goals this season, but he has traditionally performed well in this matchup, scoring three goals in his last two home PL H2Hs. Weirdly, Michail Antonio has scored in both of West Ham’s most recent competitive matches despite injured teammate Lucas Paquetá not playing!
All but one of West Ham’s seven Premier League away defeats this year have been decided by a single goal.
Spurs’ concerns about their players’ fitness appeared to be allayed for a while, but Stellini is now forced to fill in for four first-team regulars, including ACL casualty Rodrigo Bentancur after the player suffered a season-ending injury in the loss to Leicester.
Hugo Lloris, Ryan Sessegnon, and Yves Bissouma are all out for a few weeks with injuries, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be ready to make his Champions League comeback after serving his suspension at San Siro.
Oliver Skipp and Pape Sarr’s performances were bright spots in the loss to Milan, but the latter may now have to make way for Hojbjerg. Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski’s performances in Italy were lacking, and Richarlison may now threaten to unseat them.
Lucas Paqueta, a first-half casualty against Chelsea with a recurrence of a shoulder injury, will be unavailable for this match. West Ham did not escape the games last weekend unscathed either.
Due to an adductor injury, Nayef Aguerd was also forced to leave the game before the end. Nonetheless, the Moroccan is still in the running to play this weekend; if not, Ben Johnson or Aaron Cresswell, depending on how quickly the latter recovers from an illness, might assume the position.
While Paqueta’s expected absence should prompt a speedy recall for Soucek in the middle of the park, Alphonse Areola, Maxwel Cornet, Kurt Zouma, and Gianluca Scamacca are also occupying spaces in the Hammers’ hospital.
Forster, Romero, Dier, Davies, Emerson, Sarr, Hojbjerg, Perisic, Richarlison, Kane, and Son are possible starters for Tottenham Hotspur.
Possible starting lineup for West Ham United: Fabianski; Kehrer; Ogbonna; Cresswell; Coufal; Rice; Soucek; Emerson; Bowen; Antonio; Benrahma
We predict: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 West Ham United
Only the most daring among you can reliably forecast the result of a Tottenham game this season, but Stellini has successfully rallied his troops in the past and can draw upon a number of attacking options, albeit struggling ones, to capitalize on West Ham’s defensive injury problems.
While Spurs adjust for the absence of important players, Moyes’s tenacious group is likely to pose a challenge. But, considering how poorly the Hammers have played on the road, we believe Tottenham will prevail by a slim margin.