If contemporary Premier League form is anything to reference, then this Carabao Cup Fourth Round tie will only have one outcome. Tottenham Hotspur come into the game on the back of four straight league wins, including Sunday’s prolific 4-1 victory over Liverpool.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side now look to have rediscovered their hugely impressive form that has seen them pick up more points than any other Premier League side over the last two seasons.
In contrast, West Ham United are currently in a spell that has seen them gain only one victory from their last five league games, and suffered a particularly demoralising 3-0 home defeat on Friday night to newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion, who in the process registered their first three points away from home in the Premier League.
Despite falling into the relegation zone, BBC broke the news this week that Hammers boss Slaven Bilic will be given more time by the club’s hierarchy to improve results. Progressing into the Quarter Final of the Carabao Cup after conquering Spurs would certainly be a good way to start in terms of justifying such backing.
West Ham have played an extra tie than Spurs, given the system that the Carabao Cup maintains. In front of the Sky cameras in August, they saw off League Two side Cheltenham Town with a convincing 2-0 result, advancing to then meet Championship strugglers Bolton Wanderers in what was a dominating 3-0 victory at the London Stadium last month.
Spurs’ only previous Carabao Cup tie this season resulted in a 1-0 home victory against Championship side Barnsley, in what was a tighter outcome than anticipated. In front of a crowd of only 23,000 at Wembley, despite having 73% of the possession, and 27 shots at goal, a single strike from Dele Alli in the 65th minute was the only goal of the game.
It is understood by the Evening Standard that Slaven Bilic will play a weakened side for the game, given that upcoming fixtures, particularly against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace at the weekend will be viewed as the priority. And whilst Andy Carroll is available after a one match ban, he isn’t likely to start. It’s also widely expected that Spurs too will rest certain players, most notably Harry Kane, with Fernando Llorente looking set to come in as his most likely replacement.
Given the geographical significance, and having met only four weeks ago in the Premier League, with Spurs taking all three points away from the London Stadium, in what was an action packed 3-2 encounter, the meeting looks likely to be another well worth tuning in for. Spurs raced into a three goal lead last time round, and following a red card for defender Serge Aurier, survived a spirited late fightback from West Ham to see out the result.
Whilst the Cup tie may act as a welcome distraction for the Hammers, they may also be buoyed by the reminder that the last time the two sides met in this competition with Spurs as hosts, they walked away with a 2-1 victory back in December 2013.
However, given Spurs current form and confidence, they will surely see the Cup as a highly realistic path to obtaining silverware this season. Despite looking set to rest their talisman Kane, and West Ham perhaps with a point to prove following the Brighton result, Spurs’ strength in depth should see them progress through to the Quarter Final.
Score Prediction: 2-0