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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Tottenham can keep up the heat on top-four rivals

Spurs set to hammer London foes

Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli
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Premier League
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Tottenham needed six points this week to stay close to the race for Champions League places and they can achieve their aim by beating West Ham at Wembley.

Manchester City are coasting to the Premier League title but the scrap for second, third and fourth places looks ultra-competitive.

By Monday night the gap between Spurs and fourth-placed Liverpool had extended to seven points.

But the Lilywhites responded with a 2-0 victory in atrocious conditions at Swansea on Tuesday and they appear to be in decent shape to face the Hammers after star man Harry Kane was limited to a cameo role from the bench in Wales.

Kane still had an influence on the game, setting up Dele Alli's 89th-minute clincher with a superb cross-field pass.

He will be unleashed from the outset against the Hammers and should help Spurs to gain an advantage by half-time.

Spurs have been making plenty of fast starts recently, scoring inside the opening 25 minutes in six of their last eight fixtures. They have every chance of making early inroads against the Hammers, who may be more inconvenienced by having to play two games in three days.

Mauricio Pochettino made his selection at Swansea with one eye on the West Ham game, while David Moyes took a different approach, picking his strongest team for their home contest against West Brom.

He must have felt vindicated when Andy Carroll's added-time goal sealed a dramatic 2-1 victory which lifted the Hammers out of the relegation zone.

Carroll grabbed two goals against the Baggies, ending a barren spell of 14 matches, and will be desperate to start against Spurs although there may be fitness concerns over the 28-year-old, who failed to start a game in December.

Andre Ayew and Javier Hernandez are alternatives but they are having a tough time this season, scoring three and four league goals respectively.

Hernandez has not started a Premier League game since Moyes arrived and appears not to have the Scot's full confidence.

Their paths crossed in the 2013-14 season at Manchester United when Moyes handed the Mexican just six league starts.

West Ham can take heart from the 3-2 success away to Spurs in the fourth round of the League Cup. They recovered from a 2-0 half-time deficit that night but it was against an understrength Tottenham side featuring seven changes from their previous league game.

West Ham have been less successful in league trips to Spurs, winning just one of the last 15, and are unlikely to add to their festive points tally of four from three games.

Tottenham-Tottenham double result
1pt 10-11 Coral

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Team news
Mousa Dembele (hip and groin) is a major doubt while Danny Rose (knee) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) are out. Victor Wanyama returned from injury as a substitute on Tuesday and is pushing for his first start since August. Harry Kane (illness) should be able to start.

West Ham
Michail Antonio (groin) missed the 2-1 victory at home to West Brom and remains a doubt. Jose Fonte, Edmilson Fernandes (both ankle) and Sam Byram (thigh) are sidelined.

Key stat 
Tottenham have been in front at half-time and full-time in six of their last seven matches.

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Tottenham have been in front at half-time and full-time in six of their last seven matches
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