Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United go head-to-head in the Premier League on Sunday in what promises to be a fascinating London derby.
Following an opening-day defeat to Everton which piled early pressure on Jose Mourinho, Tottenham have responded in excellent fashion, winning two of their next three league matches, including two seven-goal thrillers: 5-2 vs Southampton, and 6-1 vs Manchester United.
West Ham have followed a similar script. A dismal loss to Newcastle on the opening weekend was followed up by another disappointing defeat to Arsenal. But, since then they have transformed their season, winning back-to-back games against Wolves and Leicester with an aggregate scoreline of 7-0.
Those results have Tottenham and West Ham in seventh and 12th place respectively, but just the single point separates the sides. Given West Ham’s recent unpredictability, do not rule out an upset from the away side.
David Moyes has never won against Mourinho in 12 attempts, but the sheer mania of this season could see that barren run come to an end. Mourinho will back his side, though, given their recent showings, while the prospect of Gareth Bale making his (second) debut only adds to the excitement.
Eric Dier sustained a slight hamstring complaint whilst on international duty with England and faces a late fitness test to make the starting XI. Mourinho may be able to call upon Gareth Bale for the first time as he confirmed the Welshman will “probably” play on Sunday.
West Ham, meanwhile, remain without Ryan Fredericks who is suffering from a hamstring injury, so Vladimir Coufal will make his second appearance for the club. Issa Diop is back in contention, as is David Moyes himself, who has not been in the dugout since defeat to Arsenal.
Players to watch:
Tottenham: The prospect of Bale featuring is certainly a tantalising one for Spurs fans, especially when picturing him striding forward with Son Heung-min accelerating at breakneck speed on the opposite flank. But, arguably the biggest beneficiary of Bale’s return is Harry Kane.
England forward has showcased an extra string to his bow this season, registering a league-high six assists, and those playmaker exploits could flourish with Bale making diagonal runs from the right. With Son cutting in and dragging defenders on one flank, and Bale mirroring the South Korean on the other, Kane will be able to spin and unleash his attacking teammates. But, of course, he remains a threat in front of goal himself. Nine against West Ham in his last 10 is an obscene record, and he will be eyeing up double digits against the Hammers on Sunday.