West Ham

West Ham can make big statement with Tottenham win

Toby Cudworth
West Ham are becoming a real force under David Moyes
West Ham are becoming a real force under David Moyes / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Catherine Ivill/Visionhaus/Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

West Ham's clashes with Tottenham always get the juicing flowing.

It's a fierce London derby contested by two sets of players who are always up for it, and it's one of those games that you make a note of on your calendar when the fixtures are released - particularly if you're a West Ham supporter.

Spurs fans may play the rivalry down and refer to it as a 'cup final' for the Hammers lot, but make no mistake about it, they want to win this game more than a standard game of Barclays.

In years gone by, the fixture hasn't taken on much significance for any reason other than bragging rights.

Spurs have been a team harbouring Champions League aspirations for the best part of 15 years, and more recently they have become a regular fixture in the competition. Hell, they even reached the 2019 final, under the management of the adored and much-missed Mauricio Pochettino.

Over in the East End, progress has come at a slightly more sedate pace. West Ham have been a Premier League side for the last decade, and have spent a fair amount of money in that time - but have finished in the top half of the table on just three occasions.

One of those occasions, though, was last season, when David Moyes unexpectedly turned the Hammers from relegation candidates to surprise Europa League group stage qualifiers.

Progress has been swift, but on the evidence of what we've seen over the near three months of 2021/22, is no fluke. This is genuine progression and genuine development of a hungry group of international players.

David Moyes
David Moyes is not surprised by West Ham's improvement / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

West Ham's rapid improvement may be a surprise to many, but that's not reflective of how Moyes feels about his squad. Indeed, before the 1-0 win over Everton last Sunday, he remarked in an interview with Sky Sports just how good his current crop of players are.

"This is as good as I've had. This is right up there," he admitted. "By the time I reached year 10 at Everton, I had real quality players, international players, and a balance with a team who understood me. But in year two at Everton, I didn't have the same quality of player as I have now at West Ham.

"I think the football we are playing at the moment is right up there. Yes, there have been one or two blips, but we've played some really good football, we look exciting."

Moyes' point of West Ham playing good football and being exciting to watch is valid. From the pace and power of Michail Antonio up front and Declan Rice's vice-like control of midfield to the trickery of Said Benrahma and their undeniable threat from set-pieces, there are so many ways that this Hammers team can get at an opposition.

Most importantly, however, is the shift in mentality and belief from the players in what they are doing; evidenced by comments made by Rice to West Ham's official website in the lead-up to hosting Spurs.

Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice
West Ham are loving life in the Europa League / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

“Our target as a team is to do as well as we did last year," Rice remarked. "We want to push on and do better. We’ve started well in the Europa League, so we really want to carry that on and do well in that, as well as all the other competitions we’re in.”

It's that desire to improve and strive for that continues to raise the bar for West Ham. They've won all three of their Europa League group games, and sit comfortably inside the Premier League's top ten despite the increase in fixtures that continental football brings.

Victory against Tottenham would not only lift West Ham up into the Premier League's top four, it would be a real statement of intent from a side clearly determined to show they are no flash in the pan.

On top of that, it would further demonstrate that the future of this fixture holds more significance than getting one over the old enemy - it's a game between two sides who will regularly be competing against each other for a spot in Europe.

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