Tottenham Hotspur head to West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the small matter of Jose Mourinho’s managerial debut for Spurs.
A lot has happened at Spurs over the last few days as Mauricio Pochettino was fired, Mourinho hired, and the players must be in a bit of a daze. They better wake up soon, as they travel to bitter rivals West Ham in what will be an intimidating atmosphere as the Hammers are scrapping at the wrong end of the table after six games without a win.
Manuel Pellegrini and Mourinho haven’t been too complimentary of one another in the past and it will be a battle on the pitch and on the sidelines. Spurs are without an away win in the Premier League since January and chairman Daniel Levy will want to see early signs that hiring Mourinho will have a positive impact on Spurs’ underperforming and distracted squad.
In team news West Ham are without the injured Lukas Fabianski and Manuel Lanzini, but Mark Noble, Jack Wilshire and Michail Antonio are all fit after returning to training.
Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm and Erik Lamela are all out, while Jan Vertonghen and Tanguy Ndombele are injury concerns for Mourinho.
West Ham - Roberto; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Wilshere; Yarmolenko, Snodgrass, Anderson; Haller
Tottenham - Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Dier, Winks; Son, Dele, Eriksen; Kane
What they’re saying
Manuel Pellegrini on Mourinho’s style of play: “Jose Mourinho, in every league where he works, in Italy, in Spain, here in England, he is a manager that has a lot of titles behind him so he will be a manager who is good for football. After that, you must think of what kind of football you want. Of course, the philosophy of Pochettino is not the same as that of Mourinho, but he is just in charge of the team in two days so I don’t think he will try to change all properly.”
Mourinho on facing West Ham: “They always have a great atmosphere, even with the change of the stadium. The passion of the fans, their participation in the game is always there. Very good players, very good manager. A team that like us can do better and should be in a better position in the table. I think they have the same kind of motivation we have. Us and West Ham do not belong to that part of the table.”
This will be one heck of an atmosphere as both sets of fans do not like one another. We know Pellegrini and Mourinho aren’t best mates either, and this has all of the ingredients for a feisty encounter. I’m going to go for a 2-1 win to Tottenham as Mourinho will be celebrating with the Spurs fans at the final whistle. Never thought I’d actually write that sentence, but here we are...