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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

West Ham can make it tough for Tottenham

London derby no gimme for Spurs

Tottenham's Dele Alli runs at the Chelsea defence
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 12.30pm Saturday

Beating Tottenham was a rare bright spot in West Ham's poor debut season at the London Stadium and they can once again make life tough for their bitter rivals.

West Ham's 1-0 win in May ended any lingering ambition Spurs had of becoming Premier League champions and showed the Hammers are capable of raising their game for their most eagerly-awaited fixture of the campaign.

There was a lack of atmosphere in West Ham's new stadium for 18 of their 19 home league games last season but it was rocking when Spurs went to Stratford as Slaven Bilic's men avoided defeat for the only time against one of the big six at the former Olympic arena.

It was West Ham's third win in their last four at home to Spurs and even if the outsiders are not capable of matching those efforts they deserve respect in the double-chance market or receiving a one-goal start on the Asian handicap.

The handicap route may be best, as punters will see their stakes returned even if Spurs win by one goal and the visitors have triumphed by more than that margin away to West Ham just twice since 1988.

Only once has it happened since 1993 and the last of those came in 2008 thanks to a 90th-minute second goal in a 2-0 success.

Last-gasp winners have been a theme for Tottenham too with dramatic victories at West Ham in 2007, 2013 and 2014, which again highlights just how hard Spurs will have to work for the points.

Tottenham's best performance of this season came in a counter-attacking 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, but apart from when easing to a 3-0 success over Everton (when the first goal came from a Harry Kane fluke) it has generally been a grind.

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Jonjo Shelvey's red card changed the match at Newcastle as Spurs beat them 2-0 but Burnley and Swansea took draws from their trips to Wembley, while Chelsea landed a smash-and-grab raid at the same venue.

Spurs are not enjoying overcoming teams who defend deep, particularly if the doubtful Mousa Dembele is rested with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League trip to Apoel. West Ham could frustrate the odds-on favourites, having kept three clean sheets since switching to a three-man defence.

Huddersfield, West Brom and Bolton don't possess the calibre of a Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen but West Ham can still be tricky opponents when their attitude is spot on.

Andy Carroll's height will always cause issues for opponents and there is plenty of pace and power elsewhere in the side to make this another awkward assignment for Spurs.

West Ham +1 on Asian handicap
1pt 7-8 bet365, 188Bet

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Team news
West Ham
Pedro Obiang has been ruled out, while Manuel Lanzini lacks match fitness and won't be included in the squad.

Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama remain sidelined. Mousa Dembele is doubtful.

Key stat
Five goals have been scored in the last four meetings between these teams at West Ham.

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The Hammers can be tricky opponents when their attitude is spot on
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