Zola hopes West Ham’s recent upturn can continue at Top Four hopefuls Tottenham

Tottenham v West Ham, Premier League, December 28, 2009

Tottenham 40/85; Draw 7/2: West Ham 15/2

After a slight resurgence, West Ham come into this London derby looking to make things difficult for Spurs who will be eager to get three points on the board after a goalless draw at Fulham on Saturday.

The Hammers have produced two encouraging performances in recent games that should inject some confidence into what was looking like a dejected side. Three successive defeats at the start of December had Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke under real pressure ahead of a transfer window that will reportedly see the East London side lose the likes of Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson (perhaps to Spurs) and Scott Parker.

West Ham made Chelsea struggle in the 1-1 draw (9/1) between the two sides and followed this up with a crucial win over rock bottom side Portsmouth. Alessandro Diamanti has risen to the fore, scoring penalties against both Chelsea and Pompey and the Italian has now notched in three successive games. (West Ham are 35/1 to win both halves.)

As well as being just their fourth win this campaign, West Ham’s nervy victory on Boxing Day marked a first clean sheet in 16 games which bodes well for a match where they are expected to be on the defensive. (West Ham are 7/1 to keep a clean sheet.)

Mark Noble will likely miss the trip to White Hart Lane after being replaced early on against Portsmouth and Luis Jimenez, provider of the second goal on Saturday and Valon Behrami could both start as Zola looks to freshen things up for the trip across London.

For the visit of the club where he made his name as a player and then a manager, Harry Redknapp will also tweak his Spurs side a little. Jermain Defoe will surely start after coming on in the 0-0 draw at Fulham; he is likely to be partnered by Robbie Keane who is still looking for his best form and has not scored since the 2-0 win over Sunderland in early November. (Spurs are 12/5 to win both halves.)

Luka Modric, another substitute at Craven Cottage could also be named in the first XI which would mark his first full match since the end of August. And Tom Huddlestone should also be involved after receiving his first rest of the campaign at Fulham. Ledley King could also come back in alongside Michael Dawson who has been in solid form in recent weeks.

Tottenham had to thank Heurelho Gomes for picking up a point at Fulham on Saturday. The Brazilian custodian was responsible for three fine saves in the second half and the form of the former PSV keeper must be hugely encouraging for Spurs fans. A third successive clean sheet for Gomes and co suggests they have what it takes. (Spurs are 5/4 to keep a clean sheet.)

With both sides playing two games in three days, this game could be more stretched than we are used to. The home side start as clear favourites and Tottenham have already beaten West Ham in the Premier League this season with a 2-1 win in August.

Spurs have won six of the last seven meetings between the two sides but Gianfranco Zola seemed buoyed by the win over Portsmouth and with games coming thick and fast, morale can be a crucial ingredient. The home fans will also be fretting over which Tottenham side turns up, the one that smashed Wigan 9-1 or that lost to both Stoke and Wolves at White Hart Lane.

101gg predicts: Tottenham 3 – West Ham 1 (13/1)

Tottenham 40/85; Draw 7/2: West Ham 15/2

Full match odds here.


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