Why Tottenham and West Ham's stadium experiments could count against them – and what decided the Manchester derby

Trevor Steven
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Tottenham Hotspur Training Session
Harry Kane rediscovered his scoring touch against Stoke at the weekend (Source: Getty)

​It would be a very different mood at Tottenham going into their opening Champions League game against Monaco on Wednesday if they had not beaten Stoke so soundly on Saturday.

A draw or defeat would have compounded concerns about a hangover from last season’s failed Premier League title challenge and a slow start this term, and raised questions about their focus.

A 4-0 win, however, plus the return top goalscoring form of Harry Kane, mean they go into what could be a key game against a very good Monaco side full of confidence.

Read more: Eric Dier backs Spurs to avoid repeat of Arsenal Wembley woe

I think playing European games at Wembley could go either way for Spurs. It won’t feel like home to their fans, while visiting teams could well be inspired by the surroundings.

But they have a young, fit squad accustomed to continental competition and, crucially, deep enough to have a good run both domestically and in the Champions League.

West Ham have grounds for concern

West Ham have already found out what impact a relocation can have on a team, with a dramatic 4-2 loss to Watford making it back-to-back defeats at the London Stadium.

I feel that it’s a case of the Hammers taking time to adjust to their new surroundings, rather than anything more integral to the team or manager Slaven Bilic causing the malaise.

Read more: FA to probe crowd trouble at West Ham v Watford game

I remember that players feared going to the Boleyn Ground, with its intense and hostile atmosphere. Their new home is very different both inside and out and, like Tottenham at Wembley, may even provide extra motivation for opponents.

West Ham will adjust eventually, but it’s critical that they generate strong away form in the meantime if they are to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top seven or eight again.

Man City take upper hand

Even the world’s most expensive player can find that a derby passes them by, as Paul Pogba and Manchester United discovered in their defeat to Manchester City on Saturday.

Pogba had a poor match but he wasn’t the only United culprit, and City’s 2-1 victory came down to the fact that more of their players performed on the day. It sounds simple, but that’s often how derbies are.

United manager Jose Mourinho has to take some of the blame: his decision to bring in Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan backfired, not least because this new team has not settled yet.

City’s European fixtures meant they were two games further into the season and I think that showed. They also benefited from being the away side, which brings less pressure.

It’s too early to read anything into the title race from that result – there is so long to go and, this season of all seasons, teams will drop points – but it’s great psychological boost for City.

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