Pochettino’s Spurs start at new-look attacking Hammers
Spurs start as 21/20 favourites with Coral to get Mauricio Pochettino’s reign underway with a win, despite having injury concerns in defence and losing to London rivals West Ham United three times last term.
Kyle Walker (pelvis), Jan Vertonghen (late pre-season after World Cup), Michael Dawson (ankle) and Vlad Chiriches (back) must all prove their fitness, so it’s just as well the Argentine coach signed Eric Dier and Ben Davies this summer. Both could be in line for debuts, but the latter’s old Swansea City teammate Michel Vorm is unlikely to displace Hugo Lloris from between the sticks.
It’s 17/10 that Tottenham keep a clean sheet at Upton Park. Vertonghen’s Belgium teammates Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli, plus Brazil flop Paulinho, will also be assessed following their late link-up with the Spurs squad after the World Cup. Some of these names should figure, but it will be interesting to see how struggling performers play under Pochettino in attack.
Andros Townsend, back from an ankle problem, looks set to join the much-maligned Erik Lamela in flanking Roberto Soldado as a front three. It’s 6/5 the Spanish striker scores anytime, backed up by Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen, who is a more attractive 6/4 in that market. Lamela is at 15/8, while odds of 5/1 say Townsend nets on his return.
If Pochettino has worries in defence, then the opposite is giving Hammers counterpart Sam Allardyce headaches. Record signing Andy Carroll is sidelined yet again by injury and £12m summer capture Enner Valencia is doubtful.
Big Sam will give the Ecuador international, who starred at the World Cup, every chance to prove his fitness, but it unlikely that he will figure. Argentine attacker, and former Birmingham City loanee, Mauro Zarate is in line for a debut, however, and is 2/1 to cap it with a goal anytime.
West Ham, 14/5 for victory here, have also landed Senegal scoring sensation Diafra Sakho from rapidly resurgent French team Metz. He could feature, but it is more likely to be off the bench, so take odds of 15/2 for him to score last.
Other Allardyce arrivals Diego Poyet, Cheikhou Kouyate and Aaron Crsswell could all be in line for bows too, but on-loan Arsenal right back Carl Jenkinson has a hamstring strain. Maverick midfield talent Ravel Morrison is also out, and it was his touch of class that capped a memorable 3-0 win at White Hart Lane in October.
Backing a draw is tempting here, given the respective dearths of the Hammers and Tottenham, so take odds of 12/5 if you fancy it finishing all square.