Mark O'Haire previews the Super Sunday clash between Tottenham and West Ham and feels the value lies in backing Spurs to edge a goal-filled contest.
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Jose Mourinho returned to Old Trafford and humiliated his old club with a 6-1 annihilation of Manchester United before the international break. Son Heung-min and Harry Kane scored twice, with Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier also on target as Spurs outplayed their opposition in almost every facet. It was a standout and noteworthy success.
Of course, the appalling efforts of Man Utd have to be taken into account but from a Tottenham perspective, there are promising signs. Spurs have appeared sharper and more cohesive since their opening day outing against Everton, expertly handling a ridiculously heavy schedule, as well as strengthening their squad with a number of key additions.
After almost a year in charge under Mourinho, Tottenham’s style had been questionable. Until now. The 2020/21 edition have excelled with a deadly counter-attack, gamesmanship, as well as a refusal to be bullied – no longer are the North Londoners going to be pushed about and we’re beginning to see the character and application called for from above.
Southampton have been slammed for five, Shkendija and Maccabi Haifa were pummelled in Europa League qualification, and Newcastle were put under severe pressure at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before a get out of jail penalty in the dying embers of that encounter earned a fortuitous share of the spoils. Spurs are suddenly quite fun to follow.
Whether Mourinho’s men will be able to settle into their preferred system on Sunday when welcoming West Ham remains to be seen, and doubts persist over the hosts’ defensive frailties, both collectively and individually. However, few can deny that Spurs’ attacking arsenal is capable of causing headaches for even the best Premier League backlines.
Sergio Reguilon, Matt Doherty and/or Serge Aurier provide Tottenham with three of the top-flight’s most attack-minded full-backs, bombing on to support the in-form duo of Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. But at the heart of defence Mourinho isn’t sold on Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld, and that means starting the haphazard Davinson Sanchez.
Such concerns should encourage West Ham this weekend. The Hammers entered the break off the back of two eye-catching results against Leicester (3-0) and Wolves (4-0) having begun their campaign with back-to-back losses against Newcastle and Arsenal. David Moyes’ men impressed in that loss at The Emirates, mind, and have grown in confidence since.
The Irons’ switch to a 5-4-1/3-4-3 formation has worked because it gives them pace in the wide areas with Jarrod Bowen and Arthur Masuaku, they have also been able to congest the midfield area, with Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek’s ability to make driving runs from midfield helping to launch counters. It’s been a welcome overhaul in approach from Moyes.
The season might only be a month old but West Ham sit amongst the front-runners across all the major performances data metrics, suggesting the visitors should be well capable of at least keeping this contest competitive. Ordinarily the Hammers’ rotten road record would be cause for concern, although the guests have still been scoring regularly on their travels.
So whilst I suspect Moyes’ boys will have their moments against Spurs, ultimately Tottenham are understandably expected to edge proceedings and therefore the 2/1 available on the hosts to win alongside Both Teams To Score feels like a fair price to cheer on this Super Sunday.
Mourinho has led his charges to nine wins from his 15 home games in charge, only losing to Chelsea, Liverpool, Wolves and Everton, while he’s uncharacteristically kept just seven clean sheets in 30 fixtures as Spurs boss now. Meanwhile, go back to the beginning of 2018/19 and Tottenham have recorded a measly eight shutouts in 42 Premier League encounters.
Elsewhere, the aforementioned Soucek is well worth considering at evens to land an attempt on-target. The Czech midfielder has already fired in 12 attempts in his opening four league fixtures this term, landed seven on-target strikes in 12 starts at the back end of 2019/20 and is a major threat from set-pieces for the Hammers.
Score prediction: Tottenham 2-1 West Ham (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
Odds correct as of 1630 BST on 15/10/20
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