Tottenham v West Ham: Three key battles

Gregor Vasconcelos takes a look at three key areas ahead of Tottenham's clash with West Ham United on Sunday

By Gregor Vasconcelos

Song v Eriksen

Alex Song isn’t West Ham’s deepest lying midfielder, but he will have to put on his defending shoes to annul the threat of Christian Eriksen on Sunday. Mark Noble will struggle to deal with the Dane on his own, so Song will have to keep his more offensive instincts in guard to stop West Ham’s midfield from being overrun. Conversely, Eriksen will also have to keep an eye on Song’s ability to create from deep. Song has shown many times this season that he can control matches if left to play his own game. As Tottenham’s attacking midfielder, he will have a vital role in exerting pressure on the Cameroonian from the front to stop him from exerting his usual influence.

Downing v Walker

Although Stewart Downing has often been moved inside this season, he might find more joy if he drifts left on Sunday. Spurs’ defensive midfield duo, Nabil Bentaleb and Ben Davies, have found their groove of late and were particularly impressive when stifling Arsenal two weeks ago. In what is likely to be a fiercely-contested midfield battle, Downing’s tendency to go left may prove useful as that is a sector in which the hosts are vulnerable. Kyle Walker provides energy and a lot of attacking support on Spur’s right side, but his sense of positioning leaves something to be desired. Just a moment of inatition could do it for Downing, who has been lethal this season.

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Chadli v Jenkinson

Nacer Chadli made his first start in eight games on Thursday night against Fiorentina and had a promising display. The Belgian has come to life this season and is his side’s third-highest scorer, with nine goals so far. He has also provided five assists. Not bad for a player who less than a year ago was questioned by many. If he is back in the starting line-up, he will be up against another player who has found new life this season, Carl Jenkinson. The right-back struggled at Arsenal, but is enjoying a fine season for the Hammers. Being pitted up against a player as tricky and dynamic as Chadli will be a good measure of progress for the loanee, who was thought of as a defensive liability by his former side.

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