Aaron Cresswell

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Preview: Tottenham v. West Ham

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  • Spurs have 4-straight wins at new stadium, with 0 conceded 
  • West Ham have 1 point from last 8 away games
  • Injuries piling up for Tottenham

Tottenham host West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aim to take another huge stride towards a top four finish with a big win in a London derby.

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With their massive UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Ajax coming up on Tuesday, Pochettino could well rest a few of his key players considering the swathe of injuries Spurs have suffered in recent weeks. And given they now have a four point cushion to Arsenal and Man United outside of the top four, Spurs have a little more breathing room than they did a few weeks ago.

As for West Ham, this season has been all about transition for Manuel Pellegrini with the Chilean boss guiding them to a steady midtable finish although the Hammers will be wondering ‘what if’ as seventh place seemed well within their grasps this season.

In team news Spurs are without Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier, but Danny Rose and Dele Alli could return.

West Ham will be without Samir Nasri again and Jack Wilshere is likely to be on the bench, while Javier Hernandez, Manuel Lanzini and Aaron Cresswell are all being looked at ahead of the game as they recover from recent knocks.


What they’re saying…

Pochettino on Ajax having their league game moved for more rest ahead of the UCL semifinal: “I know the Premier League and FA helped us prepare for the semi-final but it’s true, the Premier League is completely different to the Dutch league. Football in Europe is completely different to England. The reality is they are going to have more time to prepare and avoid risk. When you play Saturday and Tuesday, and the game on Saturday is a derby, playing for big things, the concentration and effort is massive. You can have some problems.”

Pellegrini on how West Ham can reach the next level: “First it’s a big game because it’s a derby, of course. You have that motivation also. After that you must try to play well, as a big team, as a consistent team. Maybe you play away a little bit less attacking and have more players defending and you don’t have the mentality to believe you can win, maybe you have more draws. But it’s better to have just one mentality against every team, the way we played against Manchester United, and now I hope we repeat that against Tottenham, thinking as a big team and playing as a big team.”

Prediction

Spurs’ injuries are mounting up and although West Ham have made it tough for their London rivals in recent seasons, it’s tough to see them getting anything out of this. This should be an open, entertaining game and I think Tottenham will just edge it. 3-2 to Spurs.

Hazard wizardry leads Chelsea into third after win over West Ham (video)

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  • Hazard scores 15th and 16th goals of the season
  • Chelsea moves past Spurs into 3rd
  • Blues unbeaten on Monday in PL play since 1994

Eden Hazard may be headed to Real Madrid this summer or he may not, but either way he’s a Chelsea man for now, and the Blues are far better for it.

The Belgian superstar bossed the game at Stamford Bridge, and produced a brace – including a Goal of the Season – as Chelsea topped West Ham United 2-0. The young English duo of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were bright in spots and Gonzalo Higuain provided a constant threat up front, but it was Hazard who unquestionably pulled the strings from start to finish.

[ MORE: Is Hazard’s goal one of the PL’s best ever? ]

Hazard engineered the opener on 24 minutes as all of Stamford Bridge could see what was coming, yet nobody in Claret and Blue could do anything about it. The Belgian magician produced a spectacular run straight down West Ham’s throat, slicing and weaving down the middle, into the box, and having passed by no fewer than four defenders and cutting between the final two, he buried the shot into the back of the net under pressure from the last man Ryan Fredericks.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was all Chelsea from that point through halftime. The hosts nearly doubled the lead moments later as Gonzalo Higuain’s shot from an incredibly tight angle was saved by Lukasz Fabianski up onto the crossbar. Callum Hudson-Odoi, on his second start in two matches, worked the keeper in the 41st minute with a right-footed blast that forced Fabianski again to full-stretch.

After the break, Chelsea remained the stronger team, but West Ham worked a quality counter-attack in the 54th minute that saw Manuel Lanzini force an acrobatic save from Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Blues came back down the other end and worked a chance for Ruben Loftus-Cheek who got clean through and looked to chip Fabianski but his shot didn’t have the height to trouble the goalkeeper.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

The Hammers had their best chance just past the half-hour mark with Aaron Cresswell firing just inches wide, beating both Kepa and the far post. Still, they couldn’t keep Hazard under wraps. The Belgian had another slaloming run in the 65th minute that nearly produced a chance but he had no support.

With Chelsea unable to put the Hammers away, the finish was tense. Chelsea came close again in the 78th minute as Hazard brought the ball forward and worked it to Hudson-Odoi on the right, and while his cross was scything across the face of goal, it agonizingly eluded both a streaking Ross Barkley and the far post. West Ham had another good chance minutes later as Marko Arnautovic worked an open set-piece header, but his effort was blocked by Emerson.

Finally, Chelsea put the game away in the 90th minute on Hazard’s second of the game and 16th of the season. Ross Barkley delivered a ball into the box for a wide-open Hazard, and he finished from a tight angle through pressure from Felipe Anderson. Maurizio Sarri celebrated enthusiastically, and the Blues confirmed their third-place spot in the Premier League table, passing Tottenham with 66 points on the year. Hazard himself has been directly involved in 28 goals in league play this season, the most in the English top flight.

West Ham, meanwhile, fails to move closer to the top half, sitting in 11th on 42 points, four back of 10th placed Watford and three above Crystal Palace in 12th. The loss is West Ham’s fourth in their last six league matches, a run which has seen them drop out of the top half after sitting ninth in early March.

Eden Hazard stroke of genius has Chelsea in front of West Ham

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Television commentator Martin Tyler called it “astonishing,” “absolutely amazing,” and “a stroke of magic from a genius.”

By halftime, he had seen it enough times to label the goal “one of the great Premier League goals of all-time.”

[ RECAP: Hazard brace tops West Ham ]

“And I’m not exaggerating.” No, no he is not.

Eden Hazard dodged, weaved, slithered, and glided through no fewer than four West Ham defenders and ended between the final two, finishing cooly under pressure from a desperately sliding Ryan Fredericks. As he soared away in celebration, Chelsea found itself with the opening goal, a spot – for the moment – in third place in the Premier League table, and a sparkling memory to savor for a long time.

The Belgian, who is rumored to be off to Real Madrid this offseason, blew by the likes of Fabian Balbuena, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, and Angelo Ogbonna before firing into the back of the net with Fredericks arriving just too late and Aaron Cresswell helpless to watch the brilliance.

Is it one of the best goals in Premier League history?

Everton ends West Ham’s unbeaten home run

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  • Zouma scores 4th PL goal
  • Bernard adds first of PL career
  • Everton moves ahead of West Ham

The international break didn’t hurt Everton’s form, as the Toffees followed up an impressive defeat of Chelsea by taking down another London side.

Goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard helped Everton to a 2-0 defeat of West Ham United on Saturday at the London Stadium, further cluttering the race for seventh place in the Premier League.

The loss was West Ham’s first at the London Stadium in four outings.

Everton’s win moves it ninth with 43 points, one more than West Ham and one behind Wolves and Leicester City. Watford also has 43 points and a quintet of clubs eye seventh place and a possible Europa League berth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Zouma’s goal came very early, as a fifth minute corner kick saw Gylfi Sigurdsson send a cross to the front post. The center back rose high and bounded a header over a leaping Aaron Cresswell to make it 1-0.

The lead was doubled before halftime, as Bernard collected his first Premier League goal when he raced into the six to push a ball past Lukasz Fabianski.

The second half chances were mostly on the side of the visitors as well, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin blazing high and wide in the 75th.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Three things we learned: West Ham v. Liverpool

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LONDON — Liverpool dropped two more points in the Premier League title race, as they drew 1-1 at West Ham United.

Pressure does strange things to teams at this part of the season.

Monday’s trip to the London Stadium offered Jurgen Klopp‘s men the chance to open up a five-point gap atop the table, but a spirited Hammers side cancelled out Sadio Mane‘s controversial opener as Michail Antonio grabbed them a well-earned point. And West Ham could’ve easily won the game had they taken their chances.

With Liverpool now drawing to both Leicester and West Ham in their last two games, Manchester City can jump top of the table with a win at Everton on Wednesday and put the pressure back on the Reds.

Here’s a look at what we learned from the London Stadium, as the title race is well and truly on.


LIVERPOOL SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH A DRAW

In the first half West Ham should have been at least 3-0 up. Liverpool were all over the place from defensive set piece situations, holding a high line for no apparent reason. Antonio scored from one situation. Declan Rice somehow nodded wide from another and both Aaron Cresswell and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez drilled just wide from counters which stretched Liverpool’s defense easily. It was as if Liverpool’s defenders were keen to keep their high-line no matter what, and in the second half they were lucky both Felipe Anderson and Mark Noble lost their cool in the penalty box when big chances arrived. Liverpool had chances themselves, as they always do, but this was far from a game where they played well and had to settle for a draw against a stubborn West Ham side. Klopp’s men got away with one by not losing at West Ham and now they are just three points ahead of Man City atop the Premier League table, and must expect City to beat Everton on Wednesday and slip to second place, albeit with a game in hand. Injuries are impacting Liverpool, but Klopp’s men are showing signs that they are cracking under the pressure. The nervous tension emanating from Liverpool’s fanbase is seeping into the previously carefree players. The 29-year wait for a league title is weighing heavy on everyone connected with Liverpool right now.


WEST HAM COUNTER TO PERFECTION

Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Liverpool have all failed to win at the London Stadium and for Pellegrini this was a perfect response after three-straight defeats for the Hammers in embarrassing fashion. Like Leicester City, the Hammers are one of those teams outside of the top six who frighten the life out of the big boys. When they aren’t forced to possess the ball, create chances and take the games to opponents, that is when they are at their best. Sure, Manuel Pellegrini has brought a certain panache and control to their game since arriving in the summer, but the fact that both Marko Arnautovic and Samir Nasri were missing through injury did them a favor. Anderson, Antonio and Chicharito pounced when they could on the counter and the pace of full backs Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks was helpful in supporting attacks and stopping Mane and Salah from running riot. In truth, West Ham’s wasteful finishing let Liverpool off the hook. Yes, West Ham’s fans want them to be more attractive to watch but when they counter this well, it’s hard to see them not deploying these kind of tactics on a regular basis against the big boys. They lost their impetus when Andy Carroll came on late in the game and that proved what direction the Hammers must move in going forward. They have the squad to hurt teams on the counter and must realize, and play to, their strengths.


INJURIES MOUNT UP FOR KLOPP

The news that Joe Gomez now requires surgery on a fractured leg was bad enough for Liverpool fans to wake up to Monday, but when Jordan Henderson, Dejan Lovren and particularly Georginio Wijnaldum missed the game at West Ham due to injury, the alarm bells were ringing. A midfield trio of Naby Keita, Fabinho and Adam Lallana should have had enough quality to wrestle control of this game but Mark Noble, Robert Snodgrass and Declan Rice won that battle rather easily. Joel Matip appears to frighten the life out of his fellow defenders when he plays and even the usually placid Virgil Van Dijk was caught out as Liverpool’s undoubted defensive leader failed to settle things down. James Milner, playing at right back, was targeted throughout and both Snodgrass and Anderson had a field day drifting out to his flank. Liverpool’s squad is not quite large enough to deal with injuries to five key players, as Milner and Henderson at right back in recent games has shown. Letting Nathaniel Clyne leave on loan in the January window and not adding another defender as back up could be the difference for them in this title race.