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By Charlie Eccleshare
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Charlie Eccleshare has a look at West Ham as they prepare to host Tottenham in today’s London derby at Upton Park (12.45pm).
It’s been an up and down season for the Hammers, who won four straight games in February but go into Saturday’s match on the back of four consecutive defeats.
Manager Sam Allardyce has cut an increasingly exasperated figure in recent weeks as fans have turned on him and his team, booing the side off even after they had beaten Hull 2-1 last month.
Much of the supporters’ dissatisfaction stems from the Irons’ direct playing style, built around powerful striker Andy Carroll and midfielders such as Kevin Nolan and Steward Downing.
Saturday’s hosts are not yet mathematically safe from relegation and would love to win this derby in their final home game – especially as their last match is away at Manchester City.
Ones to watch…
Captain Nolan is the Irons’ top scorer with seven league goals, and his understanding with Carroll could be crucial on Saturday.
Mohamed Diame is a formidable physical presence and has four league goals from midfield this season, including one in the Hammers’ last win, away at Sunderland.
Carroll also scored that night and will look to unsettle Spurs with his aerial ability and strength.
West Ham have already beaten the Lilywhites twice this season, but prior to that had only won one of the previous 12 encounters.
Perhaps the most memorable match of recent years was the Upton Park clash in March 2007, which Spurs won 4-3 with last-gasp goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Stalteri.
Last season, Spurs won 3-1 at the Lane thanks to a Defoe brace and a Gareth Bale goal, and they triumphed 3-2 at Upton Park with a last-minute Bale screamer.
The Irons got their revenge this season, winning 3-0 at the Lane in October, including a memorable solo goal from Ravel Morrison.
Two months later, they won the Carling Cup quarter-final 2-1, also at the Lane in Tim Sherwood’s first game in charge, with late strikes from Matt Jarvis and Modibo Maiga.
Spurs have a good away record this season while the Hammers are on a poor run – 2-1 to Tottenham.