Mark Noble infamously describes the exciting nature of this match. He claims that both clubs involved have had similar kinds of starts to the season. This has already been spouted around social media through various memes and comments. Clearly, these two clubs are at two ends of a spectrum so far. Tottenham have had their best Premier League start, whilst West Ham have picked up 11 points less. There is a disparity here in points total.
In terms of recent form, Spurs have won their last three, but only after losing two matches in a row to Liverpool and Watford. In comparison, West Ham have also lost two matches in the same five game period, but with two wins and a draw sandwiched in between those losses. Again, this points to Tottenham having the momentum and consistency to push past their London rivals.
But, as Spurs are hauntingly reminded, form can fly out of the window in their encounters versus the Irons. In a way this match is a different kind of London derby. It is different from the club playing Arsenal or Chelsea, for example. Most recently, this is because these teams have been competing with Spurs for the top four spot. West Ham, however, have had less success. Instead, these kinds of league matches carry a double incentive. They are precious points, but also a chance to usurp a high flying rival. Fans quip lines of “your cup final” to describe this idea. This idea means a match taking on more meaning in terms of rivalry, than the overall competition in a season. The most prominent example of this was the ‘treble’ that West Ham dubbed in the 2013/4 season after winning all their encounters against the club. It was a season where West Ham had very little else to cheer about, finishing 13th on 40 points.
West Ham have the most injured squad in the Premier League. They currently have eight players potentially out of action, including knocks to Robert Snodgrass and Arthur Masuaku, but longer term injuries to Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere. The most unfortunate injury is probably to Carlos Sanchez, a tough combatant midfielder that was involved in some of West Ham’s best victories over Spurs. He has undergone knee surgery and will take some time to recover. He very much sums up the industrious, aggressive nature of the Irons.
Spurs, on the other hand, have seven issues in terms of player fitness. The biggest one is to Jan Vertonghen, who will not make a return until December with a hamstring injury. He has been the linchpin in defence, marshalling his fellow team-mates. Christian Eriksen may well be fit for this encounter, which will be a considerable boost.
As aforementioned, this game is more about rivalry and less about points. At least, this is the case for the underdog, West Ham. For Spurs, they have a great opportunity to try to seize first place. There are two points away from the leading triumvirate. This adds a little pressure to this encounter which is sure to be electrifying and well fought. West Ham really could do with building on their paltry two wins so far and will want to address this with a big win against their rivals.