The Premier League’s London based clubs have enjoyed a uniformly bright start to the season, having collectively won each of the eight games in which they have featured.
This 100% record will come to an end later today, as the first of twenty London derbies takes place at Upton Park this afternoon.
West Ham enjoyed a comfortable opening day victory at Wolves last weekend and will be eager to build on this in front of their own fans. Zola, after a slow start last autumn, has quickly built a side that is capable of playing football of both style and substance.
The same can be said of West Ham’s opponents on Sunday – Tottenham Hotspur. It is remarkable to consider where Spurs were this time last season. After their superb victory at Hull on Wednesday, few have failed to pick up on the fact that it took the club ten games to reach the same points tally last season.
Both teams, then, have cause for optimism. With Defoe and Redknapp both returning to their former club, and the former in spectacular form, the Hammers will be keen to come out all guns blazing. Spurs’ makeshift back four has yet to be tested and with Gomez out injured and the defence again rotated to make room for Ledley King, West Ham might sense an opportunity.
Yet, with Spurs demonstrating both pace and purpose going forward, Redknapp will fancy his side to outscore their London rivals and maintain their 100% record.
The match at Upton Park will be swiftly followed by the season’s second London derby, this one at Craven Cottage as Fulham entertain Chelsea.
Like Spurs, Chelsea too have six points and one would expect the blue half of West London to maintain this winning start to the season, after an impressive mid week victory at rejuvenated Sunderland.
Twice in a week, Chelsea trailed 1-0 before overcoming their opposition. Admittedly, they left it late against Hull in the new season’s inaugural game but few could question that they were good value for their win.
On Tuesday, Chelsea left nothing to chance, turning in an excellent second half performance that saw them win the game at a canter.
It will be this second half performance, more than the goals conceded, that focuses Roy Hodgson’s side tomorrow afternoon. It is far too early to begin drawing conclusions but Chelsea have, to my mind, laid a definite marker that they are the team to be beat this season.
In spite of this, Fulham should not be short of confidence. A solid victory at Portsmouth was followed up by a comfortable victory in Europe on Thursday. The loss of Andrew Johnson to injury will be a blow to the home side but the Cottagers relish the visit of the big clubs. Last season, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Spurs all succumbed, while Chelsea were held to a draw.
The Premier League’s fifth London club, Arsenal, maintained their own 100% record yesterday with expected ease. After their performance at Goodison Park last weekend – which, so I’ve heard, was ok – and a further confidence boosting victory at Celtic Park on Tuesday one feared for Paul Hart’s decimated Portsmouth side yesterday. So much so that they 4-1 was probably deemed an ok result!
So, with Arsenal’s 100% record intact for another week, expect Spurs and Chelsea to join them in continuing to fly the London flag. The early signs, however, suggest that London will again dominate the top ten this year.