It’s Charity Day at Spurs. The club are helping to raise funds for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Players are warming up in these shirts, while yesterday Mauricio Pochettino visited the charity’s new hospice building.
Mauricio Pochettino talks! “I am only thinking of today. This is the most important game, we do not think of the next one. I have picked the best players available to win. I have told the players the most important game is today, we have to be sure we are going to compete in our best way. Of course we cannot avoid risk, we are in the middle of the fight for the top four and the Champions League. But today Vertonghen is out of the squad, he has big fatigue and today would be a massive risk to play with him. But we rotate because I think the best starting XI is the one we have today. We know this is a derby, and means more than a game. They are a very good team and we must be focused. It is going to be tough.”
Manuel Pellegrini speaks! “We want and need to finish with a competitive team and more points. We must finish in the best way. We are conceding too many goals, but I am happy with the way we played the last two games and hopefully we can win this game. I am confident that if we repeat the game we played at Manchester United, we can win today. Spurs have a very strong squad, and must try to qualify for the Champions League, so I am sure their mind is just on this game.”
Spurs make four changes to the XI named for the 1-0 win over Brighton. Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Juan Foyth and Ben Davies replace Kieran Tripper, Victor Wanyama, Fernando Llorente and Jan Vertonghen, who has picked up an injury.
West Ham swap out two players from the XI selected for the 2-2 draw with Leicester City. Ryan Fredericks and Issa Diop replace Pablo Zabaleta and Angelo Ogbonna. Jack Wilshere’s comeback from injury continues with a place on the bench.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Foyth, Dier, Alli, Rose, Eriksen, Son, Lucas Moura.
Subs: Trippier, Janssen, Wanyama, Walker-Peters, Llorente, Gazzaniga, Skipp.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Rice, Antonio, Noble, Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson, Arnautovic.
Subs: Zabaleta, Adrian, Obiang, Hernandez, Wilshere, Ogbonna, Lucas Perez.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).
West Ham United have lost three of their last four matches, haven’t won in five, and have already been beaten by Tottenham Hotspur twice this season, in the League (0-1) and League Cup (1-3). While the Hammers mooch around in mid-table, Spurs sit third, have a fair chance of winning the Champions League, and have a record in their fancy new stadium of P4 W4 F8 A0. If recent form is anything to go by, this should be a home banker.
Football’s never that cut and dried, though, is it? Spurs have only won three of their last nine home games against West Ham, who would be delighted to become the first club to leave High Road (they really should call it that) with a goal or two or point or three. The hosts will understandably have one eye on their Champions League semi-final with Ajax on Tuesday evening. And they struggled to break down Brighton & Hove Albion midweek, requiring a late, late Christian Eriksen superstrike to squeak past. So it’s far from a pipe dream for the Hammers.
Spurs can’t take anything for granted in the race to secure a top-four berth and guarantee a Champions League spot for next season, though. Especially with all the teams in that battle acting so erratically. So this is balanced rather deliciously. It’s windy! It’s all to play for! It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm BST.