Tottenham Hotspur-West Ham United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated PressMay 1, 2014

West Ham United will be eyeing a third victory of the season over their biggest top-flight London rivals as they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Upton Park on Saturday.

Sam Allardyce's West Ham (10-7-19) stunned Spurs with a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane in October, scoring three goals in a 13-minute span of the second half in a ruthless counterattacking display. The Hammers came out on top again in the League Cup quarterfinals, coming from behind to beat a lacklustre Spurs 2-1 in December at the start of Tim Sherwood's tenure in charge of the north London club.

Those victories have been two of a very small number of highlights in a disappointing season for West Ham, but Allardyce is hoping for another win over the Lilywhites to help guarantee his team to safety and give the supporters something to cheer about.

"It would be absolutely fantastic to beat them at home," Allardyce said. "At this moment in time, our concerns are that we had one of the best clean-sheet records in the league eight or nine games ago and we haven't kept one since then. That's been our demise that has caused us a few problems.

"Tottenham will come and play and try and open up because of the quality of players that they have. ... We have to be very wary of what their strengths are and make sure their strengths are nullified. Then we have to make sure we use our strengths to try and break their defensive unit down and take our chances when we get them."

A run of just three wins in eight games between a 1-0 defeat to Norwich in February and the 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion in April has left Tottenham (20-6-10) out of the running for Champions League qualification. Even a string of better results from what always looked like a favourable run-in hasn't seen support return for Spurs manager Sherwood, with most of the talk around the north London club in recent weeks being who will succeed him in the summer. With Sherwood still having 12 months on his contract, the underqualified coach revealed his frustration at the continuing reports over his seemingly inevitable departure.

"Somewhere along the line someone is telling porkies," said a typically robust Sherwood. "When clubs come out - and managers too - it's disappointing. We'll see where the discussions at the end of the season take us. It's a difficult time when there are outside distractions but I have to concentrate on the job in hand.

"My office is on the field. I think it's gone reasonably well for me in the Premier League but we'll just have to wait and see."

West Ham have injury doubts over James Tomkins (hip) and Marco Borriello (calf), while Tottenham are expected to be without Mousa Dembele (ankle), Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Erik Lamela (back). An ankle injury will also rule out Andros Townsend, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season and England's World Cup campaign this summer, while a groin injury may also rule Kyle Walker out of contention for Brazil.

A league double for West Ham over Tottenham would be their first in 15 years, and even with the two losses this season, Spurs have won nine of the last 13 between the teams.