West Ham United (Home)
Premier League

Saturday 19th March 2011

Without a home league game in six weeks, it might be nice for Tottenham to play in front of their own crowd at White Hart Lane again.  Having had three away games and postponements because of opposition's cup commitments and being out of the FA Cup, the win against Bolton Wanderers in the last minute of the match seems a long time ago.

For West Ham, they will be looking to prolong their decent last few results in the league and wipe out the memory of getting knocked out of the FA Cup at the quarter final stage by Stoke last weekend.  Spurs will welcome the Irons, but that will be the warmest the visitors will get.  They will be fired up and their fans will sing "bubbles" all afternoon, but at the end Spurs will walk away with the points.

Many West Ham fans I know and work with have long accepted that they are going down, even though they may win a game here and there.  The mocking of Spurs supporters over gaining permission to occupy the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games might be the only thing they have to crow about, as Avram Grant tries to manufacture an escape from the bottom of the table, which was something he couldn't manage with Portsmouth.

Goalkeeper Rob Green has played for England as well as West Ham and has made mistakes as well as good saves for both sides.  Highly regarded when he first went to Upton Park, his reputation was somewhat tarnished by the gaffe at the World Cup and much like Paul Robinson before him, his confidence at club level has suffered.  Suspect on crosses, the presence of Peter Crouch at some stage may prove problematical for the goalie and the Spurs forwards, especially if Jermain Defoe is playing, will want to test him out with shots taken early to catch him off guard. 

In front of him, the defence has been porous this season.  Matthew Upton has rarely lived up to his England place and Daniel Gabbidon has been missing with injury, while James Tomkins has been struggling in a back four who have been lacking understanding and cohesion.  Central defender Manuel Da Costa has been good since he arrived from Spain and he's been a threat at the sharp end too, with good strength in the air from set-pieces.  With Winston Reid finding it tough to settle into the Premier League despite playing in last year's World Cup for New Zealand, it has been Herita Ilunga and Julien Faubert who started off as full backs, but now more often than not, loan signing Wayne Bridge and former Everton defender Lars Jacobsen, who occupy the wide positions.  The Dane is not blessed with great pace, but is tenacious and Bridge has found it hard switching from top four Manchester City to bottom four West Ham United.  There may be joy on the flanks for Bale and Lennon, with space created elsewhere, as the visitors will double up to try and stop any progress in wide positions.

With the injury hit Kieron Dyer going out on loan to Ipswich Town, the midfield options are a little limited, as Scott Parker is the mainstay of the engine room and is always the first name on the team-sheet.  Without him, it is doubtful if the Irons would have any chance of staying up.  Mark Noble has lost his way, having to channel his efforts in the right direction rather than trying to impose himself physically in the midfield, while Jonathan Spector has hit some surprising goals, but looks like he might be on his way to Germany in the summer, as West ham find he lacks sustained impact.  Pablo Barrera, Luis Boa Morte and Radoslav Kovacs have all failed to impress this season, with Boa Morte getting old, while the other two have not adapted to English football very well.  The one bright light for the Hammers has been the emergence of Thomas Hitzlsperger since his return from injury, showing some of the form that made him such a hit at Aston Villa.  His shooting and delivery from free-kicks are his particular strengths.  Former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough midfielder Gary O'Neil was signed in January and is a willing worker, but is coming to the veteran end of his career, although he can add effort and a little creativity to the Irons' midfield.

The attack was moribund for long periods earlier in the season, but since the arrival of Demba Ba from Germany, the goals have started to flow.  The Senegal striker is strong and has had a good run in the team, allowing him to develop a goal-scoring rhythm which has seen him cause problems to the defences he has faced so far.  There was a similar impact made by the Nigerian forward Victor Obinna, who has come in on loan from Internazionale, but lately, his effectiveness has been limited to working the line and he has dropped out of the goal-scoring scene.  One of the resident strikers Carlton Cole has had a new lease of life now he has some partners up front.  Another strong and muscular forward, his strength is holding off players and firing in shots on goal, some which find the net when he gets them on target.  There will be a physical test for our centre-halves facing such a big three up front.

One player who will be missing from the forward line is Robbie Keane.  Loaned out by Spurs to help West Ham survive, the Irishman cannot face his parent club and will be sidelined after he has just returned from five weeks out injured.  Another who is likely to miss out is Freddie Piquionne, who is supposedly out with a foot injury picked up in last week's FA Cup defeat at Stoke City, but it would not surprise me if he is risen from the sick bed to play, with Grant trying to play psychological games with his old mate Harry Redknapp.

With Benni McCarthy too heavy to be considered and Zavon Hines and Freddie Sears too inexperienced to be involved in a relegation battle, the two youngsters might have to settle for a place on the bench.

Tottenham must look at the way West Ham set up their side.  If they play three strikers, this will leave them might in midfield and too often this season the East Enders have been caught out when moves break down and there is a large expanse of turf between their front line and the back line.  Exploiting the space between the two final thirds could be the key to Spurs' success. 

With the Tottenham side containing extreme pace, there could be a fair amount of counter-attacking on the cards, but with Modric and van der Vaart available, the midfield will push onto their opposite numbers and spread play wide to stretch the West Ham defence.  I expect Defoe and Pavlyuchenko to start, as they looked good against Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out in the league.  There will be options on the bench and if Sandro continues in midfield, he might find himself in a battle, but he looks the sort who won't shirk that.

While West Ham are in 18th position, they will be seeking to get back out of the bottom four, as they had done the week before last.  However, results elsewhere put them back there and they must now concentrate on doing all they can to save themselves.  For Spurs, it is an important game in terms of getting back into the top four, so there is a need to approach the game with more application than the last two away games, which have seen us let in three goals each time and end up with only one point.  I don't think that will happen again and against a doggedly determined West Ham side, I predict Spurs will run out winners ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    2      West Ham United    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Younes Kaboul (out - knee); Wilson Palacios (out - knee); Tom Huddlestone (out - ankle); William Gallas (doubtful - thigh);  - (-); - (-); 

WEST HAM UNITED :  -  Robbie Keane (ineligible - on loan from Spurs); Jack Collinson (out - knee); Junior Stanislas (doubtful - hernia); Peter Kurucz (out - knee); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   0    West Ham United   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 19th March 2011
Kick Off :  12.45 p.m.
Crowd :   36,010
Referee :  Mike Dean (Cheshire)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Bright, sunny, warm
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka  (  2  Hutton 77)
13  Gallas
20  Dawson (c)
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon
30  Sandro
14  Modric
  3  Bale

11  van der Vaart  (  9  Pavlyuchenko 71)

18  Defoe

Unused subs: 
  7  Pletikosa

19  Bassong
21  Kranjcar
  8  Jenas
15  Crouch

West Ham United :

  1  Green

37  Jacobsen
15  Upson (c)     
22  Da Costa
36  Bridge

32  O'Neil
16  Noble     
  8  Parker     
11  Hitzlsperger

21  Ba
  9  Cole       (33  Obinna 81)

Unused subs:
31  Boffin

  4  Gabbidon
  5  Tomkins
13  Boa Morte
19  Sears
26  Hines

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  West Ham United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur


West Ham United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




West Ham United

Parker (foul)  45
Noble (foul)  50
Cole (foul)  56
Upson (foul)  68


Match Report : -  
A match bathed in sunlight saw Spurs and West Ham fail to hit the net in a goal-less draw, but the game was full of goalmouth action and that saved it from being ruined by a petty match official.

The fact that there were a number of talking points was despite and not because of Mike Dean, the referee, who seemed to take great pleasure in the small things in life and let some important decisions go by un-noticed.  The fact that he asked Gareth Bale to leave the field to change his cycling shorts because they were not the same colour as the majority of the team's shorts hinted that not only did Dean want to let everyone know who was boss, but that he had no shame in undermining his own by bringing it to everyone's attention that he had failed to properly check the playing equipment of the players.  The fact that he failed to play advantage, chose to deal with injured players who were off the pitch and let shirt-tugging and late challenges go without a word to the offender meant that the players had to do a lot of the things in the game themselves.

Spurs had returned to the one striker up front formation, leaving Jermain Defoe isolated until he had Roman Pavlyuchenko as a partner for the last 20 minutes.  Rafael van der Vaart was deployed behind him, but West Ham's intentions were clear from the start when they ran like mad things to close down any space Tottenham had.

However, within four minutes the bar had come to their rescue when a free-kick in the left hand corner was worked by van der Vaart and Modric to Dawson ten yards out to the left of the goal in the area and the Spurs captain curled a neat shot beyond Green's reach, but the ball smacked against the crossbar on it's way over the top.  Then, two minutes later, Gareth Bale, back in the starting line-up, raced away from Jacobsen and put in a low ball into the area, where Defoe was sharp to the chance, but although he beat his marker Da Costa to the ball, he could only nudge it wide of the goal.  Sandro had a shot flick off a West Ham body and go wide, before Aaron Lennon struck a shot over the bar, as he couldn't get over the effort.

West Ham started to come into the game after being pegged back for much of the opening ten minutes.  Carlton Cole had been paired up front with Demba Ba in the absence of Piquionne and he struck the first effort on target in the 12th minute, when a long range shot went gently into the midriff of Heurelho Gomes.  In the next minute, he ran behind Gallas and Dawson to reach Hitzlsperger's dinked cross into the heart of the Tottenham penalty area, but could only meet it on the volley with a flick and looped it over the bar.  Had West Ham had a lethal finisher, then Spurs could have been in trouble, but then the same applied the other way around too.

When Spurs next attacked, a corner resulted and Rafael took it short to Modric on the right corner of the box, taking the ball inside as a West Ham player came out and then curled a shot across goal that went a yard wide.  Then another set-piece saw Spurs go close, as the roles were reversed for the next corner and a low ball in saw the Dutchman's first time shot on the half-volley fly just wide of the West Ham goal.  With all the pressure, you wondered if the failure to make it pay might cost Spurs, especially when Ba played Cole through and past Dawson to run in on goal, but as Gomes spread himself, the Irons striker could only hit the ball into the chest of the Tottenham keeper with 20 minutes gone.

Just past the half hour mark, spurs went close again, with Defoe and Modric swapping passes to allow the Croatian to hit a shot that bounced across Green and missed the far post by inches.  The next effort was closer with Lennon being played in on the left side of the box in the 40th minute and he beat Jacobsen, hitting a shot across Green that beat the keeper and bounced off the post to Defoe, but it came too quickly and he could only scramble it wide.  As the first half entered added time, van der Vaart had two shots on goal ... one from a free-kick that was taken comfortably by Green and the other a right foot shot that went straight at the keeper from 20 yards out.

At half-time the celebrity chat was about the Champions League and both Alan Mullery and Mark Falco thought we could beat Real Madrid, but unfortunately, there was the more prosaic matter of trying to beat West Ham before us.  It looked as though harry had played the wrong formation with just Defoe up top, as he went for JD and Pav away at Wolves and we got three goals.  The central defenders of the visitors buffeted and bumped Defoe off the ball, with Dean giving him scant protection.  With two men in attack, there defenders would have had more to worry about and there may have been more opportunities to bring Lennon and Bale into the play with two men needing to be taken care of in the middle.

As it was there were no changes at the break and West Ham kicked off the second half attacking the Park Lane end.  The warm sunshine kept the crowd buoyant with West Ham consistently singing about bubbles that fade and die, but their fortune wasn't hiding today, as it favoured them throughout the match.

A minute into the half, they did test Gomes with a cross-shot by Cole, although a few minutes later, a neat move between Modric and Corluka on the right opened the way for Defoe to turn inside the six yard box and hit a low shot that Green stuck a leg out to keep it out.  It looked like being one of those days, even though Spurs were working the ball into dangerous areas and a clever pass form Modric put Defoe in, but there were too many players in front of him and when the ball came to Bale, he could only get half a proper shot off and it went gently through to Green.

Ten minutes into the half, on one of their infrequent attacks, West Ham's Senegalese striker Ba shot, but the ball was blocked by Dawson and flew into the air, where Noble, previously booked for a crude challenge on Bale, threw himself under the ball and hit an overhead kick that got the Irons supporters very excited, as they thought it had gone in, but the ball went a yard wide of Gomes' goal.  Carlton Cole then went in the book for a late tackle on Sandro, with Parker having been shown yellow in the last minute of the first half for a bad tackle from behind on van der Vaart.  The lack of application by Dean could have seen Parker sent off, as he did commit a couple of other niggly fouls, including one run by Modric, in which the West ham midfielder pulled him back by the shirt three times.  Ba also could have been cautioned, with three kicks at Bale in one run by the Welshman.

As it was, Spurs had to play their own game and cope with whatever West Ham threw at them.  Noble got in the way of Modric's shot on the edge of the box, Sandro had a long range shot three yards wide and Defoe was put away when he was hauled down cynically by Upson, who became the fourth visiting player to get a yellow card.  In between, Ba got released in the left side of the box and struck a powerful shot as he cut into the middle of the pitch, forcing Gomes to dive full-length to keep out the shot that would have crept inside the post in the 64th minute.  The Brazilian keeper gets roundly criticised for mistakes he makes, but this was a fine stop, with his concentration maintained when he hadn't had a lot to do.

Noble was getting forward to support the front two of West Ham and one move on the right saw the ball played into him, just inside the 18 yard line.  He shimmied inside Michael Dawson and had a free shot on goal, but, having done the hard work, he tried to take it with the outside of his foot and the ball squirted off it and went a long long way wide.  That was with 20 minutes to go and Spurs decided that a change had to be made, with the tiring van der Vaart coming off with Pavlyuchenko replacing him to partner Defoe up front. 

Almost straight away, Roman got on the end of a Corluka cross, but being 15 yards out, could not get a lot of power in the header and this was followed by a run and cross from Lennon, with the ball coming out to Bale, who hit his volley into the ground, but unlike last season's goal by Modric, this one went over the bar.  Pav's introduction seemed to liven up the Tottenham attack and he had a shot blocked by Da Costa, then stung Green's hands when cutting onto his left foot from the middle of the goal to hit a powerful effort with ten minutes to go and then Green got behind another shot, this time less convincingly, as the Russian's drive bounced off the keeper's chest and was hacked away.

It was all Tottenham now and when Upson fouled Modric on the edge of the box with five minutes remaining, Bale stepped up and dipped his free-kick over the wall and it was heading into the top left hand corner of Green's goal until the goalie got a hand to it and knocked it up onto the bar.  Jacobsen cleared the ball away before a Spurs player could latch onto it.

In the closing minutes, twice Pavlyuchenko put Defoe in for shots on goal, one flying wide of the post and the other blocked just in time by Bridge, as Defoe closed in on the ball inside the area.  The two linked again, with Pav shooting wide in added time and Modric hit a shot too high before the final whistle went and the West Ham fans cheered as if they had won the right to occupy the Olympic Stadium.  The five ring circus might be full for games like this, but the way that West Ham played the majority of the game wasn't pretty, although their supporters will care little for that in the position they are in.

But in the final analysis, neither side were happy with a draw, although other results weren't too bad for them.  It wasn't even really a blood and thunder London derby, with Spurs playing the majority of the football and the effort put in by West Ham.

The real meaning of the result will come for both teams at the end of the season.  A point apiece might not be enough for either team to achieve their aims come May.

Purcell Cole


Fan Reaction : -



The sponsors have just named West Ham's Man of the Match ... the woodwork.

While Green saved them a couple of times, the woodwork stopped three Spurs efforts and while Gomes had to be sharp to stop Cole and Ba, the threat from the visitors was limited.

Why Harry didn't start with Pav and Defoe after they got three goals at Wolves, I don't know.  Three goals here would have won us the game and while West Ham and Wolves are different teams, you couldn't see West ham scoring three times.  We looked so much better when Pav came on and having two strikers gave their defence more to think about.  Harry must pair Pav and Defoe and van der Vaart with Crouch (usually away from home) if he is going to play like that.

As my good friend the Trainer's Sponge said ... "I was surprised that after the final whistle the game didn't go to extra time, because it was West Ham's Cup Final !"

Isaac Gregory






Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 2 Blackpool 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Fulham 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Stoke City 4 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 2 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2 Sunday
Chelsea 2 Manchester City 0 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 30 18 9 3 64 30 64 +34
2 Arsenal 29 17 7 5 59 29 58 +30
3 Chelsea 29 16 6 7 53 24 54 +29
4 Manchester City 30 15 8 7 45 27 53 +18
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 29 13 10 6 42 35 49 +7
6 Liverpool 30 13 6 12 41 36 45 +5
7 Bolton Wanderers 30 10 10 10 42 41 40 +1
8 Everton 30 9 13 8 40 39 40 +1
9 Sunderland 30 9 11 10 33 37 38 -4
10 Stoke City 30 11 4 15 36 38 37 -2
11 Newcastle United 30 9 9 12 44 45 36 -1
12 Fulham 30 7 14 9 33 33 35 0
13 Blackburn Rovers 30 9 6 15 39 51 33 -12
14 West Bromwich Albion 30 8 9 13 41 56 33 -14
15 Aston Villa 30 9 9 13 37 51 33 -14
16 Blackpool 30 9 6 14 45 60 33 -15
17 West Ham United 30 7 11 12 36 49 32 -13
18 Birmingham City 29 6 13 10 28 41 32 -13
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30 9 5 16 35 49 32 -14
20 Wigan Athletic 30 6 13 11 29 51 30 -22



Position before the match :  5th
Position after the match :  5th
Position after the weekend :   5th


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