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Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Tottenham

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  • Tottenham has not conceded in PL in 438 minutes
  • West Ham won at home last year 1-0
  • Hammers have not scored in 223 PL minutes

It’s crazy to say that Spurs, after nine wins in a row, has to win a game. Nevertheless, that is the current situation. With Chelsea’s soft schedule down the stretch and a four point gap at the top of the table, Tottenham likely has to win out the season to have a shot at the title. Dropped points on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) – or anywhere else, for that matter, likely ends the race altogether.

So, here we sit, with Spurs needing a win at a place they lost last season. Travel is light, having played a home London derby last week and now playing another on the road.  Mauricio Pochettino will likely have Danny Rose and Kyle Walker to choose from, with the former out since the end of January.

The Hammers, meanwhile, seem to have turned their misfortunes around somewhat as they sit unbeaten in four, but a closer inspection reveals all may not be well. A pair of 0-0 draws against Everton and struggling Stoke earned two points, they failed to beat the bottom team, and pipped Swansea by a single goal.

West Ham has struggled with injuries all season long, and that’s no different here, as Andy Carroll and Arthur Makuatsu are doubts, while Michail Antonio is out for sure. Slaven Bilic will have Manuel Lanzini at his disposal, a big boost as eight of his 13 goals this Premier League season have come within the confines of the English capital.

What they’re saying

Slaven Bilic on his job security: “It is not about individuals, it is about the club. I am calm and totally focused on the game. The only thing I am thinking about is the match against Spurs. This is a big match anyway,” Bilic said. “It is a derby, whether you need the points or not; it’s a derby game against Spurs at our stadium. They need points, we need points, so it is a massive game for us and a massive game for them.”

Mauricio Pochettino on West Ham stadium: “I have a very good relationship with [Bilic] and he is a great guy as well as a very good manager. It is always difficult when you move stadiums and you saw that with us and Wembley — we tried to make Wembley our home but it is just so difficult. So I think he is doing a really good job and it will be good to see him on Friday.”

Prediction

Sure, West Ham would like to secure its mathematical safety, but Tottenham needs the points here far more. Mauricio Pochettino is one of the best at preparing his teams for a particular challenge, and he will do that here. Spurs wins comfortably 2-0 against a Hammers side struggling for every single point.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.