Sunday 6th October
White Hart Lane
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United
West Ham haven't lost the first game of a calendar month since a 2-1 defeat to Burnley way back in December 2011. In the intervening period, our record is: played 13, won 9, drawn 4 lost 0; scored 26, conceded 5. This is one of those weird little records to be proud of.
We've had some very difficult games over that period; the first playoff semi final away to Cardiff, home games against Manchester City and Chelsea, and away games at Liverpool, Newcastle and Southampton.
However, none of those challenges seem quite as large as the one facing us this weekend. Tottenham Hotspur look the real deal this season - spending over £100m in transfer fees can do that to a side.
They have a host of wonderfully creative midfielders including Erik Lamela, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, and the list goes on.. and on.
However, despite the glittering list of additions to the squad made over the summer, the players who have stood out most to me were both there last year; Mousa Dembele and Andros Townsend.
Dembele has had a wonderful start to the season, really picking up where he left off. Last season he had a pass completion rate of 90.9% (1329 out of 1462), this season it's up at 91.8% (268 of 292). Last season, he created 55 chances for his team mates at a rate of 1.8 per game, this season, he's created 11 - a rate of 1.8 per game.
But the Belgian is more than a elegant ball playing midfielder. Since the start of last season, he's also made 2.5 tackles per game - winning the ball 84.6% of the time (77 / 91). He's also completed on average 2 defensive actions (clearances, interceptions, blocks) per game, and has successfully dribbled past an opponent 2.2 times per game, having been successful with 78 of his 105 take ons (74%).
The image below shows Dembele's duels so far this season. As you can see, he is successful most of the time (78% overall) in all areas. If West Ham are to get anything from Sunday's game, we really need to keep Dembele quiet, and win the battle in midfield.
The other man to have really impressed is Townsend.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who expected the English winger to scarcely feature this season. With wide midfield talent including Aaron Lennon, Sigurdsson and Holtby being joined by Erik Lamela, it appeared that Townsend would be on the bench - or out on loan.
But he has made the right midfield spot his own in recent weeks, and offers a real attacking threat to any opposition defence.
In his 5 appearances this season, Townsend has attempted to go past a defender on 37 separate occasions, and has got the better of his man 24 times (65%). This means he's currently taking on a defender on average 7.4 times per game, and winning the contest 4.8 times per game.
The one area that has let Townsend down so far is the accuracy of his crossing. Of the 20 he has attempted, he has only hit his man 3 times. This has led to an increased intent on cutting inside and having a pop at goal - 14 shots already this season.
The image below shows Townsend's attempted take ons at the weekend against Chelsea. Coming up against an experience full back like Ashley Cole was never going to stop Townsend running with the ball. As you can see, all five of his successful attempts were down the right wing, attacking the England left back. Whether it's Joey O'Brien or Razvan Rat starting at left fullback on Sunday, Townsend will be making sure they have their work cut out for them.
The one area that Spurs still seem to be lacking is goals. Like us, they have struggled to get among the goals this season, with only three players scoring int the Premier league. With the players in their side, they are creating goalscoring opportunities at a rate of knots, but they are making hard work of sticking the ball in the net.
The main culprit so far has been their new signing Roberto Soldado. I was told by plenty of Spurs fans that Soldado would fire them into the Champions League - that he was world class. Maybe they were right, but so far, the Spaniard has struggled to live up to his billing.
Two goals in his opening six Premier League games is not the worst record in the world, but Soldado is yet to score from open play. He is also struggling to offer much to the side outside of his goals -h is pass completion rate is the worst of all Spurs' regular outfield players (76%), and he has won just 4 of his 28 aerial battles (14%).
The image below shows Soldado's attempted shots on goal. He has hit the target with 64% of his attempts (7 / 11), but, as previously mentioned, has yet to score from open play. It would by typical West Ham if Soldado suddenly found his goalscoring touch, but if he continues with his recent form, our defence could be largely untroubled by the striker.
On paper, this is likely to be the game where our 'first game of the month' unbeaten streak comes to an end.
But then, if football was played on paper our run would've ended 11 months ago when Manchester City came to town. Or 10 months ago when Chelsea came to the Boleyn. Or even 6 months ago when we travelled to Anfield.
This is an incredibly tought game, and one that we will do very well to get anything from. But it's not a write off. We can do this.
Head to Head
40% Head to Head Win % 35%
77 Won 67
48 Drawn 48
67 Lost 77
303 Goals Scored 266
266 Goals Conceded 303
W W W W D W Last 6 W L D L W L
13 Goals Scored 7
1 Goals Conceded 8
W W W W W D Home/Away Form D D L D D L
9 Goals Scored 1
1 Goals Conceded 4
Form Player (Last 6 League)
Mousa Dembele - Winston Reid
6 Appearances 6
449 Minutes Played 540
253 Sum Squawka Performance Score 106
42 Average Squawka Performance Rating 18
292 Passes Attempted 187
268 Completed 137
92% Success Rate 73%
11 Chances Created 1
0 Assists 0
3 Attempts on Goal 3
3 On Target 0
0 Goals 0
10 Tackles Made 13
9 Successful Tackles 11
90% Success Rate 85%
5 Interceptions 10
6 Clearances 55
2 Blocks 2
2 Defensive Actions Per Game 11
17 Aerial Duels 32
12 Won 19
71% Success Rate 59%
0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
25 February 2013
0-1 Gareth Bale 14'
1-1 Andy Carroll 25'
2-1 Joe Cole 58'
2-2 Gylfi Sigurdsson 76'
2-3 Gareth Bale 90'
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Hugo Lloris - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Kyle Walker - Guy Demel (72')
Michael Dawson - James Collins
Steven Caulker - Winston Reid
Jan Vertonghen - Joey O'Brien
(88') Scott Parker - Gary O'Neil
(75') Mousa Dembele - Mohamed Diamé (84')
Aaron Lennon - Joe Cole
(56') Lewis Holtby - Kevin Nolan (35')
Gareth Bale - Matt Jarvis
Emmanuel Adebayor - Andy Carroll
Brad Friedel - Raphael Spiegel
Benoit Assou-Ekotto - Emanuel Pogatetz (72')
William Gallas - Matthew Taylor (35')
Kyle Naughton - Jack Collison (84')
(75') Tom Carroll - Ricardo Vâz Te
(88') Jake Livermore - Carlton Cole
(56') Gylfi Sigurdsson - Marouane Chamakh
Tottenham Hotspur: Danny Rose, Aaron Lennon
West Ham United: Alou Diarra, Andy Carroll
Tottenham Hotspur: n/a
West Ham United: n/a
Opposition Last Time Out
vs Anzhi Makhachkala
Goals Scored: 2
Goals Conceded: 0
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Kyle Walker Younes Kaboul (71') Vlad Chiriches Zeki Fryers
Sandro Mousa Dembele
Erik Lamela (71') Lewis Holtby (78') Nacer Chadli
Michael Dawson (71')
Gylfi Sigurdsson (71')
Christian Eriksen (78')
Best Player: Vlad Chiriches
Squawka Rating: 49
Worst Player: Erik Lamela
Squawka Rating: -17
Top 5's (Min 2 Apps)
Gylfi Sigurdsson 3 - 1 Joe Cole
Roberto Soldado 2 - 1 Ravel Morrison
Paulinho 1 - 1 Mark Noble
n/a - 1 Kevin Nolan
n/a - n/a
Erik Lamela 1 - 2 Matt Jarvis
Christian Eriksen 1 - 1 Mark Noble
Paulinho 1 - n/a
Roberto Soldado 1 - n/a
n/a - n/a
Mousa Dembele 91.8% - 86.4% Stewart Downing
Etienne Capoue 89.7% - 83.6% Ravel Morrison
Christian Eriksen 89.4% - 81.5% Mark Noble
Jan Vertonghen 89.4% - 81% Kevin Nolan
Paulinho 87.5% - 79.5% Joey O'Brien
Chances Created per game
Christian Eriksen 2.7 - 2 Mark Noble
Nacer Chadli 2.5 - 1.3 Matt Jarvis
Kyle Walker 2.2 - 1.3 Rǎzvan Raţ
Roberto Soldado 1.8 - 1.3 Stewart Downing
Mousa Dembele 1.8 - 0.8 Modibo Maïga
Successful Dribbles per game
Andros Townsend 4.8 - 2.5 Mohamed Diamé
Mousa Dembele 3.8 - 1.8 Mark Noble
Etienne Capoue 1.7 - 1.5 Joe Cole
Paulinho 1.5 - 1.4 Ravel Morrison
Danny Rose 1.5 - 0.7 Modibo Maïga
Tackles per game
Etienne Capoue 3 - 2.8 James Collins
Danny Rose 2.5 - 2.8 Mohamed Diamé
Kyle Walker 2.3 - 2.2 Winston Reid
Paulinho 2.3 - 2 Mark Noble
Nacer Chadli 1.8 - 1.8 Guy Demel
Aerial Duels Won per game
Michael Dawson 3.8 - 6.2 Modibo Maïga
Mousa Dembele 2 - 3.8 James Collins
Kyle Walker 2 - 3.2 Winston Reid
Nacer Chadli 2 - 1.8 Joey O'Brien
Jan Vertonghen 2 - 1.5 Joe Cole
Andre Villas-Boas - Sam Allardyce
54.6% Current Club Win % 42%
35 Won 42
17 Drawn 27
12 Lost 31
59.3% Managerial Career Win % 40%
114 Won 336
42 Drawn 226
36 Lost 278
1 League Titles 2
3 Cup Wins 0