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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United - prediction, team news, lineups
22/12/2021 14:40:29

Two bitter London rivals desperate to end trophy droughts face off in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup on Wednesday when West Ham United make the short trip North to face Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs returned to action following a two-week break with a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at the weekend, while West Ham saw their match against Norwich City postponed.

We say: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 West Ham United (after extra time)

This fixture has rarely disappointed in recent years, and under the lights at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the final game before Christmas, there is sure to be a great atmosphere.

It is a difficult one to call with West Ham having suffered a blip in form but also having had a week's rest, whereas Tottenham were involved in a breathless and bruising clash with Liverpool just three days before this one.

It could go beyond the 90 minutes in North London and it would not be a huge surprise to see it go either way, but we are just siding with Tottenham for this one.

Match preview

There will have been mixed emotions within the Tottenham camp following Sunday's thrilling 2-2 draw with Liverpool - a game Antonio Conte's side arguably should have won on the balance of chances.

Harry Kane scored one but also squandered a string of other openings, while Dele Alli and Son Heung-min - the latter of whom ultimately got the goal which earned Spurs a point - were also guilty of failing to put their title-chasing visitors to the sword.

Nevertheless, the overall signs of progress under Conte were promising, and having seen one serial trophy-winner in Jose Mourinho fail to bring silverware back to North London during his tenure, Tottenham will be hoping that another in Conte has better fortune.

Spurs remain without a major trophy since last winning the League Cup in 2008, and they saw another prospect of silverware evaporate on Monday as UEFA effectively threw them out of the European Conference League by ruling that they had forfeited their match against Rennes.

The EFL Cup again represents Tottenham's best chance of ending their 14-year trophy drought, and there is no doubt that they would have earned their place in the semi-final if they get there, having faced Premier League opposition all of the way so far.

Victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers on penalties and Burnley have brought Spurs to this stage, and they could now reach the semi-finals for the 17th time - a tally only Liverpool can match in the history of the competition.

Spurs are now unbeaten in their last five domestic outings and also their last five at home across all competitions, but they have every reason to be wary of the threat posed by West Ham on Wednesday.

The Irons have already beaten their bitter rivals once this season - a 1-0 Premier League triumph in October - to make it back-to-back wins in this fixture, and another in midweek would see them make it three on the bounce for the first time since May 2014.

Incidentally, that run included a League Cup quarter-final victory away from home, and coupled with a fourth round triumph in 2017-18 as well, West Ham have won their last two League Cup away games against Spurs.

However, Spurs won the last showdown between the two sides in this competition - a fourth-round triumph at the London Stadium in 2018-19 - and overall these two have each progressed four times from their eight previous League Cup meetings.

West Ham's own major trophy drought stretches all the way back to 1980, when they last lifted the FA Cup, but their performances this season both domestically and in Europe have raised hope that silverware could return to East London in the near future.

Having said that, West Ham's bright start has faltered somewhat in recent weeks, with a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last week meaning that they have now won just one of their last six games.

The postponement of Saturday's match against Norwich means that they have had a full week to prepare for this game, though, as they look to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup for the first time since beating Spurs in the 2013-14 quarters and keep their hopes of winning the trophy for the first time ever alive.

David Moyes's men have had just about as difficult a passage through to the last eight as possible, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round before dethroning long-time holders Manchester City on penalties in October.

A third successive clean sheet in the competition - something they have not managed since 1989 - would be the perfect foundation on which to build another memorable result as they look to add Tottenham's scalp to the Manchester duo.

Team News

Tottenham sprung a few surprises in their matchday squad for the Liverpool game, with Son, Lucas Moura and Oliver Skipp all included despite reports that they would miss out due to coronavirus.

Instead, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the only absentee from the normal side, but Conte has now confirmed that all of his players have tested negative.

However, the Italian did hint that some were still not fully recovered after contracting the virus, meaning that they may not be quite at full strength for this match.

Cristian Romero will not feature again this year due to a thigh injury, while Ryan Sessegnon picked up a knock against Liverpool, but all in all Spurs have a relatively clean bill of health compared to many Premier League clubs at the moment.

Nonetheless, the decision to press ahead with the Premier League's festive fixture schedule means that the EFL Cup quarter-finalists are likely to rotate their teams heavily, with Spurs in the midst of four games in the space of 10 days.

There could be starts for fringe players such as Joe Rodon, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas, while Harry Winks could keep his place after impressing against Liverpool.

Conte could opt to start Kane up front once again, though, with the England captain having finally scored his first home league goal of the season at the weekend.

West Ham will be without the suspended Vladimir Coufal following his controversial red card against Arsenal last time out, creating a shortage for Moyes at right-back with Ryan Fredericks and Ben Johnson also sidelined through injury.

Craig Dawson has played that position in the past and could be shifted out there to cover, while 20-year-old Harrison Ashby provides another option having made his Premier League debut against Arsenal.

West Ham's defensive shortage is not just limited to right-back either, with Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna also sidelined, while the match could come just too soon for Aaron Cresswell to start.

Like his opposite number, Moyes is likely to use the game to hand minutes to some fringe players, including Manuel Lanzini, who has had a direct hand in five goals from his last six EFL Cup appearances.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Nikola Vlasic could also come into an attack which has failed to score in their last three games, while captain Mark Noble may start in midfield.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:

Lloris; Sanchez, Rodon, Davies; Tanganga, Winks, Skipp, Ndombele, Reguilon; Bergwijn, Kane

West Ham United possible starting lineup:

Areola; Ashby, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Kral, Noble; Vlasic, Lanzini, Fornals; Yarmolenko

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