West Ham Clash Is a Proper Acid Test for Tottenham's Prospects This Season

Oct 14, 2020, 10:45 AM GMT+1
Harry Kane
Tottenham smashed Manchester United at Old Trafford | Pool/Getty Images

You might have seen Tottenham beat Maccabi Haifa 7-2 in a Europa League qualifier.

You might have seen Tottenham beat Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford.

You might have seen the videos of Gareth Bale training and looking sharp as he builds up his fitness. We'll thrown it in below just for your serotonin boost.

This is all exciting. Seemingly out of nowhere - especially after that drab, depressing 1-0 loss to Everton and the undeserved yet ultimately Spursy 1-1 draw with Newcastle - Tottenham have the look of a dangerous side.

The squad is now packed with depth and Jose Mourinho looks like he has an idea of what his strongest team is. There will be rotation throughout the season regardless, such is the nature of this crazy year, and the summer signings - especially Sergio Reguilon and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - have settled pretty well.

Things are looking good, so naturally, for a Spurs fan, that's where the pessimism kicks in. Y'know, the feeling in your gut that things will still turn out pretty terribly, even if the signs seemingly point elsewhere.

Serge Aurier, Harry Kane, Sergio Reguilla, Davinson Sanchez
Things are looking good at Tottenham - which means it'll fall apart soon, right | Pool/Getty Images

That's why the upcoming clash with West Ham is an excellent test for Mourinho's side.

We only saw a couple of good patches of form last season from the north London side - when the former Chelsea boss first took over, and towards the end of Project Restart. Throughout the 2019/20 campaign, games were lost to teams like Southampton, Sheffield United, Brighton and Newcastle.

For a team chasing Champions League qualification, those defeats will always come back to bite you in the backside. Spurs ultimately missed out on a top four spot by seven points, in a year where neither Manchester United nor Chelsea were particularly strong. Better than Tottenham, of course, but the chances were there to be taken, and Spurs often slipped up.

Harry Kane
Tottenham were beaten 3-1 at Sheffield United last season | Pool/Getty Images

West Ham are a weird bunch, going purely off their results alone. A terrible 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle was followed by an improved performance away at Arsenal, though they still came away with a 2-1 loss. Then came a 4-0 win over Wolves before a 3-0 upset at Leicester.

In that win at the King Power Stadium, the Hammers defended superbly. Sitting deep with most players behind the ball, David Moyes' side frustrated the Foxes and hit them clinically on the counter, with the attacking trio of Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen doing the damage.

If there's one thing Tottenham have struggled with under Mourinho, it's breaking down teams who sit deep and look to frustrate.

Jose Mourinho, Joao Sacramento, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Mourinho's Tottenham came through four games in eight days unbeaten | Pool/Getty Images

In the big wins against Southampton, Maccabi and United, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane have been given all the space they want to create and finish chances. But that won't be the case against West Ham.

Midfielders Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso will need to take on that creative burden, and full backs Reguilon and Matt Doherty will need to bomb forward to stretch West Ham's back line.

In a season that's already thrown up some irregular results, Tottenham can't afford to slip up in a match they should win. There is plenty to be optimistic about, but consistency is obviously key, and we should have a better idea of what to expect from Spurs this season after Sunday's game.

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