The starting XI West Ham should choose to play against Tottenham

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Ravel Morrison (West Ham)Last year was certainly West Ham United’s year for beating Tottenham Hotspur, after we defeated them three times in all competitions. This year has not been as successful, with our only match against Spurs ending in a 1-0 victory to them after a late goal from Eric Dier. We are heading into our next meeting with them on the back of a very disappointing FA Cup result against West Brom – making this game an important one for keeping the fans onside with the Co-Chairmen and manager’s ambitions, as well as a chance to get a result against a team just five points above us in the table.

We need to put in our strongest showing against Spurs this Sunday, and here is my choice of the West Ham XI that should play against Tottenham – a team selection made slightly easier given that injuries and suspensions are limiting our options just enough to be annoying.

Adrian in goal, obviously. Jussi Jaaskelainen did a great job filling in for him after he was sent off against Southampton, but Adrian has earned his spot as our No.1 keeper; he had a tough game against West Brom and needs to get that result out of his system as soon as possible – and what better way to do it than to keep a clean sheet against Spurs?

Defensively, Carl Jenkinson, a fit Winston Reid, James Tomkins and Aaron Cresswell should start. For Jenkinson, Tomkins and Cresswell there’s an argument for not fixing what isn’t broken— plus, as an Arsenal boy, Jenkinson has a vested interest in a good result against Tottenham. Cheikhou Kouyate has worked hard in defence in the absence of fit centre-backs, but we are missing him in midfield. Should Reid be fit he should absolutely start – particularly if the rumours of him wanting a move to Spurs are true. If he does indeed want to go there, this game is his trial to show what he’s capable of – meaning we should have a strong performance from the Kiwi.

Even given Morgan Amalfitano’s suspension, we still have a few options regarding midfield selection – and I’d like to see Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Stewart Downing, and Mark Noble come into play. It’s a slightly odd assembly of players, as only one of them is a winger – and the world knows Downing only comes alive in the tip of the diamond structure – but these four men are arguably one of our better midfield alliances, and all four played a role in our home wins against Liverpool and Manchester City earlier in the season (plus Amalfitano, who was part of the substitute rotation.)

Sam Allardyce will certainly disagree with my leaving captain Kevin Nolan out, but I do mean well here. Kevin Nolan’s strengths are not best suited to him being a starter. I like the style of play far more when Song is on the pitch, and appreciate that the team has more direction and clearer structure—although I’m slowly losing my mind watching Song give the ball away over and over and over again. Comparatively, Nolan doesn’t do enough for me – or most people, really – as a starter, but he does contribute as an impact sub in the right environment. Bring him on later in the game and get him to be a nuisance to their defence (and particularly their keeper) – and harness the performance we saw against Southampton rather than what we saw (or didn’t see) verses West Brom.

Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia are the obvious choices to play up front, but they need to return to the winning partnership we saw in the early stages of the season – and soon. Both have struggled with injuries during the season, and while Andy Carroll brought five goals with him into the side, I would argue that our striker rotations over the winter period (although mainly borne out of necessity) were not overly successful. Carlton Cole has scored more league goals per minutes played than Valencia – and so should not be counted out as a sub – but Valencia’s five league assists make him a valuable asset to our attacking options.

I want to see a team as close to the one which dominated at the beginning of the season as possible – and the above is surely our strongest side available to us – but will it be enough to break down a Spurs side who are doing irritatingly well? What changes would you make to my team selection? Let us know below or tweet me @makingthemarrow

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1 comment

  • JohnJ says:

    Emily, as a Spurs fan I hope Sam plays Winston Reid, because then he will experience first hand just how good Spurs are now, and how good he will need to be to get into the team, if he joins us during the summer.

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