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Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs West Ham opposition scouting report

Following our long trip to Russia to face Anzhi for the first time in the Europa League, next up we face a more familiar foe at the Lane in Spurs vs West Ham.

After doing the double over them last season, the Hammers will be looking to turn the tables on us this term. However, they’ll need to score their first goal away from home this season in the Premier League to do it.

So, how will we stop them and what should we be looking for in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Ham this time?

West Ham set up and style

Some things have changed with West Ham this season, but also a lot remains the same. Sam Allardyce has brought in new personnel, but is also dealing with a number of injuries to key players that get his system to work.

Last season, the Hammers were focused on attacking down the left side through Matthew Jarvis, who hit whipped-in crosses for Andy Carroll. They also used the long ball. This would take advantage of the Geordie striker’s height, whilst also creating knockdowns and heading opportunities for Kevin Nolan arriving later in the box whilst the defenders were occupied.

This term, Allardyce has brought in Stewart Downing to create a balance by offering a supply line down the right, whilst he also has the ability to switch wings with Jarvis. However, injury to the former Liverpool man and also Andy Carroll means that the Hammers haven’t actually seen this supposedly more harmonious team yet.

What they have viewed has been Allardyce predominantly using a 4-2-3-1 system, with Stewart Downing, Joe Cole and now Mohammed Diame all having played in the right sided role in the advanced three at some point.

Prior to injury, Downing played with the most width and offered the ability to both cross or cut inside for a shot. Joe Cole drifted in to central areas, creating overloads in the middle with Kevin Nolan – which is how his goal in his only appearance on opening day arrived. Mohammed Diame plays with a fair amount of width, but is not a good crosser of the ball when he is forced to put one in to the box. He does however move in to the penalty area to get on the end of crosses from the other side, as their play is now going increasingly down the left.

Away from home, West Ham have played on the counter attack. At Southampton this was extremely effective in limiting Mauricio Pochettino’s side to very few chances. On the flip side, with 3v3 in the centre of the park and a very congested midfield area, West Ham created relatively few of their own.

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West Ham ball recoveries against Southampton.

At Hull, this approach allowed them to spring forward and get plenty of shots at goal due to having 3v2 in central areas. Noble, Morrison and Nolan were up against Hull’s Huddlestone and Livermore and were able to over run them despite losing the match 1-0.

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West Ham ball recoveries against Hull City.

Unlike Hull, we set up with three in the centre so expect Spurs vs West Ham to have a very congested midfield area. As a result of the Hammers dropping off and playing deep, this zone will be limited for space in their half and control of it will be vital.

West Ham long ball

Going forward, even without Andy Carroll, West Ham are still attempting a fair number of long passes relative to their possession.

The problem for the Hammers is that Modibo Maiga is not the aerial presence that Andy Carroll was. The prospect of having Mladen Petric in there is also not much better.

In their last two away trips, West Ham have much more success completing long diagonal switches of the ball to move it out to the flanks, than they have going directly forward.

This was the case against Southampton, whose strong centre backs hoovered up anything down the middle.

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West Ham long balls against Southampton.

At Hull, the Hammers were again more successful in moving the ball out to the flanks. Interestingly, they attempted a number of directly played passes up the line to bully or go over the top of the full backs.

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West Ham long balls against Hull City.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Ham here should see Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen clean up anything hit forward.

Last season, Andre Villas-Boas used Vertonghen at left back with Dawson and Caulker in the centre against West Ham.  This was done to effectively get three centre backs on the field against Andy Carroll. Although AVB won’t have to do that here, it’ll be interesting to see if he uses this ploy to deal with any long balls played up the line or if he continues with the speed of Naughton or Rose.

West Ham creating chances

West Ham have failed to score away from home, but their chance creation has come predominantly from the left without Stewart Downing in the line-up. This sees the play move through Matt Jarvis and his crosses find Mohammed Diame cutting in from the right and Kevin Nolan moving late  in to the box.

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Kevin Nolan and Mohammed Diame passes received, Hull 1 West Ham Utd 0.

Whilst Nolan is a well known threat to score, Diame is more regarded for his work in winning the ball back and starting attacks. In the last few matches since being moved to the right, he has had a number of shots at goal and shouldn’t be taken lightly if he starts on this side again on Sunday.

If Downing does return to their starting line-up, then the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Ham need to be aware of not only Nolan arriving in the box late, but also Diame from his deeper central role.

Where West Ham concede chances

West Ham have conceded chances via two distinct methods this season.

Firstly, they have been susceptible to teams getting in behind and executing short crosses and cut backs. Despite a tight match with relatively few chances, Southampton created opportunities from squared or cut back balls inside the area.

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Southampton open play opportunities against West Ham.

Everton also scored the only goal West Ham have conceded from open play in the Premier League from a short cross after getting in-behind.

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Romelu Lukaku finds Kevin Mirallas running in-behind.

Romelu Lukaku found Kevin Mirallas on the run. As a number of West Ham defenders got sucked towards the ball, the Belgian chipped it back to his countryman in the middle to head home.

The second method they’ve conceded is via free-kicks or set plays.

West Ham have given away a high number of free-kicks around the box, whilst also allowing a penalty against Hull.

The Tigers scored their spot kick, but West Ham have also conceded on direct free-kicks after fouling around their penalty area. Jermain Pennant scored for Stoke, whilst Leighton Baines struck twice with from dead balls for Everton.

Of the five goals West Ham have conceded in the Premier League this season, four have been from set pieces. Hull’s penalty and Stoke/Everton’s free-kicks.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West ham here could well see Christian Eriksen have the chance to open his Premier League account with a set piece.

Spurs vs West Ham outlook

Whilst the Hammers are yet to score away from home, they have also only conceded once on the road in the Premier League this season.

Sam Allardyce will set his side up to sit deep and play on the counter attack, so I’d expect Spurs to go all out to grab an early goal and draw them out.

West Ham will be a threat from set pieces themselves, but it might well be a free-kick of our own that proves pivotal in opening them up here.

Spurs vs West ham prediction: Spurs 2 West Ham 0.



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2 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs West Ham opposition scouting report

  1. Paulo 6th October 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Looking forward to the game, which on paper looks like a straightforward home win.. I think Sam Allardyce has put all his eggs in one basket by spending 15M on an injury prone striker and now Carroll is injured they look a bit short.. a couple more defeats and they’ll be the latest club feeling the pressure in the premier league.

    As for Spurs, I really hope Soldado can get on the score sheet today, he hasn’t managed a premier league goal since the opening 2 games.. It would be good to get Rose back as well as he was excellent at the start of the season.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th October 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Hoping for the same from Soldado, like to see his hard work of recent weeks pay off.