Sunday's big London derby preview

West Ham United v Tottenham H Sunday, August 23, 1.30pm Upton Park IT S only August, but already West Ham are looking for revenge against their old rivals Spurs. Their Asia Cup clash in Beijing may not have been a high-profile encounter, but any match bet

West Ham United v Tottenham H

Sunday, August 23, 1.30pm

Upton Park

IT'S only August, but already West Ham are looking for revenge against their old rivals Spurs.


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Their Asia Cup clash in Beijing may not have been a high-profile encounter, but any match between the two teams is keenly contested and West Ham's 1-0 defeat would have hurt.

Sunday's battle at Upton Park is the one that really matters. A game so important that the London Underground have even called off their engineering works for the day so that the crowds can get to the match.

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Tottenham certainly look to be a side in form.

While West Ham are muddling along with just one experienced striker, Spurs have four with the only real problem facing manager Harry Redknapp being which two to start with each week.

It was Robbie Keane and former Hammer Jermain Defoe who were given the nod in the 2-1 win over Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

But just to illustrate the difference in squad strength between the two teams, Harry was able to bring on Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko, while Gian-franco Zola brought on a 17-year-old for his debut.

Spurs splashed out �9m for Crouch in the summer and a further �8m for defender Sebastien Bass-ong, but it was last January's signings of Wilson Palacios and Defoe that have moved Spurs up a level.

Defoe had a superb pre-season and followed it up with two goals for England against Holland, and it seems the only ones who can stop him at the moment are the Essex Police!

He will no doubt receive his usual hostile welcome from the Hammers fans, two goals for his country won't change that, but as with Frank Lampard, that may merely inspire the striker.

Defoe may be the one to watch, but they also have the speedy Aaron Lennon and the classy Luca Modric to cause problems for West Ham.

What the Hammers must do is take full advantage of Tottenham's shaky back-line.

Already hit by injuries to Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate, while with Ledley King struggling to play two games in a week, this is the area where West Ham have a distinct advantage.

Playing only one up front might negate that advantage somewhat though, so Zola must consider all his options.

West Ham haven't beaten Spurs at Upton Park since the 'Lasagne gate' battle on the last day of the 2006 season, while last season saw Spurs cruise to an easy 2-0 win, thanks to goals from King and Jamie O'Hara.

The Hammers may struggle to stop Spurs repeating that result.

POSSIble team: Gomes, Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Hudd-lestone, Modric, Keane, Defoe.

Prediction:

West Ham 1 Spurs 2

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