It’s cup final time for the boys from East London, as top of the table Tottenham Hotspur come into town, looking for some action.
As if West Ham didn’t need any more encouragement to beat us, the fact that we’re top of the league will be enough to ensure that they’re even more desperate to bring us down a peg or two.
An added frisson will be provided by the fact that the man that the Hammers love to hate, Jermain Defoe, seems to be in the form of his life and would like nothing more than to shut up the Upton Park boo boys.
We will be confident going into this game and rightly so, but we shouldn’t underestimate a West Ham side that have surprised many with their form under managerial rookie, Gianfranco Zola.
That said, you’ve got to back us to win in the form we’re in, against a side that we did the double over last season. Ledley should return and add some stability to the centre of defence, with Corluka preferred to Hutton at right back, despite the latter’s sprightly performance against Hull.
Gomes is out injured with Cudicini to deputise. If I’m honest, I haven’t yet reached the point where I particularly trust either keeper, but Cudicni did feature prominently in pre-season, so he’s not without match practice.
Other than that, I’d expect us to field the same starting line up, with Crouch and Pav to make their starting debuts this season, in our upcoming encounters against Doncaster and Birmingham.
I’ve always been against the pairing of Defoe and Keane, especially away from home. It might prove that the well documented gym regime that Defoe has undergone, has given him the upper body strength to make him be relied upon to lead the line and effectively play on his own up front, as Keane links between midfield and attack. We shall see, but the evidence against Hull was encouraging.
I fancy us to win 2-1, which is the same scoreline that I forecast for the game against Hull. Any type of victory against the Hammers will do, but let’s hope that I’m being equally cautious in my prediction.