Tottenham Hotspur-West Ham United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Mauricio Pochettino's tenure as Tottenham Hotspur manager will start with a crunch London derby away at West Ham United on Saturday.

The former Southampton boss replaced Tim Sherwood as manager of the north London club over the summer, and his first major task will be to secure a win against the Hammers and end a dismal recent run of results for the Lilywhites in this fixture.

West Ham won all three of their meetings with Spurs last season, running out 3-0 winners at White Hart Lane in October, and then twice beating their London rivals while Sherwood was at the helm - 2-1 in the League Cup in December and 2-0 at Upton Park in May.

"It was fantastic for us to beat our old rivals three times last year, but they are a top side and we'll have to hit the ground running," said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. "We'll have to hit top form from the first minute to the last on Saturday.

"It's a very exciting fixture for the players, the fans and everybody else surrounding West Ham. A big local derby to start the season off and hopefully we can reproduce the performance that we did for the last game at home last year."

Last season's three results were in stark contrast to the previous record between the two clubs. West Ham had won just one of their previous 12 league meetings with Spurs, being beaten nine times.

Allardyce will be looking for a 'plan B' after Andy Carroll picked up an ankle injury that will keep him out until October, and Big Sam is also facing a testing start to the season after being on the end of criticism from both the West Ham supporters and the club's owners during the off-season for the unattractive style that his team plays.

The expectation levels are very different at Tottenham, where the new manager will be tasked with breathing life into a squad that has plenty of talent but looked disjointed for much of last season.

Ben Davies, Michel Vorm, DeAndre Yedlin and Eric Dier have been added to the squad over the summer to strengthen the defensive areas, although left-back Davies is the only one likely to make an immediate impact. Rather than bringing in big names, the task at hand for Pochettino will be to get the best out of last season's expensive signings - few of whom set the Premier League alight. Record additions Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela struggled for different reasons in 2013-14, but are both expected to play major roles for the Lilywhites this time around, and the new Spurs boss bristled at rumours in his pre-match press conference that the club may be looking to offload a number of his players.

"I've been made aware of some reports claiming we are looking to sell half of our squad," said Pochettino - holding a conference in English for the first time. "Not only is this crazy for anyone to suggest but also particularly unhelpful to us just two days before the start of our season.

"We are fortunate to have a squad full of quality, as I have said on numerous occasions, and we are not expecting to see much movement before the end of the transfer window."

Tottenham will be missing Vlad Chiriches (back) and Kyle Walker (groin), while Mousa Dembele and Paulinho are being given time to get back to full fitness after the World Cup so will not be available.