The situation could not be simpler – if West Ham take a point from Tottenham on Friday, it is game over as far as the latter club’s title challenge is concerned. Still four points ahead of Tottenham, Chelsea are now champions-elect after Sunday’s patient yet ruthless 3-0 demolition of a decent Everton side that has been nigh-unbeatable at Goodison Park all season.
Tottenham not deterred
The North London derby completed “Heavyweight Weekend”, and one could have forgiven Tottenham for being slightly subdued after news of Chelsea’s Merseyside triumph filtered through to the White Hart Lane dressing room. In an unsurprising show of utmost professionalism, Mauricio Pochettino’s men dispatched their hated local rivals 2-0, and showed exactly why they now find themselves on the cusp of a tenth straight league win.
Though Tottenham have in all likelihood narrowly missed out on the title for a second successive season, no credible pundit could deny that Pochettino’s squad is perhaps just two world-class players away from becoming one which wins the title by a considerable distance in 2017/18. With a Bundesliga betting site identifying top players, such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as potential suitors for a Premier League club, Pochettino himself will have much food for thought on this matter. With players such as Aubameyang in that league, it is not surprising that bookmakers are confident enough to offer punters their money back for a 0-0 draw.
Revenge will be sweet
Thus far, the glamorous surroundings of the London Stadium have largely failed to inspire a West Ham side currently stuck in mid-table and seeing out a season of missed opportunity after a strong 2015/16. However, before Slaven Bilic’s side embarks for a mercifully long summer – without a ritual Europa League humiliation by Astra Giurgiu – there is the small business of a London derby under the incomparable glare of floodlights and punditry, against a Tottenham side that is still in title contention.
On current form, West Ham’s XI represents an obstacle that the current Tottenham squad should negotiate with little fuss. Furthermore, Tottenham’s recent history in this fixture is also strong, even though Pochettino’s men fell to defeat on their last east end trip. However, Slaven Bilic’s battlers were in their Dimitri Payet-fuelled pomp during that meeting of March 2016, and the situation has changed greatly in the interim.
The supreme – and universal – confidence in Tottenham to at least continue a remarkable winning streak is reflected in relatively short odds of around 13/8 for a Tottenham win and a clean sheet. Much of this shortening is also down to West Ham’s profligacy in front of goal, with the Hammers now goalless in two games.
Despite West Ham’s shyness in the final third, one can expect a fraught and fiery start to this encounter between rival clubs from working-class areas of the capital. Clear chances will be at a premium, which makes a level half time score, followed by a Tottenham win, a very tempting prospect to back. With tempers set to be frayed, odds of around 5/2 are also available for a penalty to be awarded at any time. Combining this with the HT/FT market could make for an extremely potent payout.