Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham: Five Key Battles

Defoe

West Ham head to White Hart Lane on Sunday in decent form, and with Spurs struggling at home this season, can Allardyce's men come out on top?

Here are the key battles...

Dembele vs Diame

Many of Spurs' recent travails in the league can be linked to losing Mousa Dembele to injury. The powerful Belgian has quickly become the fulcrum of the side, and will improve Spurs both going forward and defensively. Dembele made his return from injury off the bench in the 0-0 draw at Lazio on Thursday, he will surely be needed from the start if Spurs are going to turn their league form around at the weekend. Facing him will be Noble and Diame, and the latter in particular will have a tough job stifling Dembele's runs from deep. If Dembele gets room, he will be vital to Spurs' attacking threat.

Defoe vs Tomkins

With Adebayor suspended for the next three matches, Defoe will likely be employed as a lone striker for Spurs. Tomkins has been in impressive form at the back for West Ham, and Allardyce's side have been pretty solid all season. Coming off the Monday night game against Stoke, Tomkins will have a very different challenge in the shape of Defoe, whose clever, quick movement creates space for Spurs' forward line.

Sandro vs Nolan

Kevin Nolan has been the Hammer's main goal threat this season feeding off the holdup play of Andy Carroll, with the England striker yet to find the net for West Ham. Sandro has been excellent for Spurs time and again this year, and has another important role to play on Sunday, when tracking and blocking Nolan's forward runs will go a large part of the way to limiting West Ham's chances.

Bale vs O'Brien

Despite not always hitting his best form so far this year, Bale has the ability to win games for Spurs single-handedly, and is a vital part of every match they go into. Like plenty of right-backs before him, O'Brien will need to ensure he doesn't either let Bale past him, or give away too many fouls in stopping the winger illegally. Spurs haven't always been the most threatening side going forward at home this year, so if Bale is nullified, they might struggle for goals again.

Walker vs Jarvis

After an excellent breakthrough year last season Walker has been scratchy for Spurs this season. The right back looks short of confidence, and can be ponderous both on the ball and in the tackle. Jarvis is a class act on his day, and if Walker doesn't start well the left winger could run riot down his flank. If he gets the chance to swing in balls regularly, both Carroll and Nolan will be waiting in the centre.

images: © p_a_h, © OliverN5

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