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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Redknapp returns to Upton Park

ESPN's Sunday lunchtime offering finds two London teams in good form as Harry Redknapp takes high-flying Tottenham back to his former club, West Ham.

Gianfranco Zola v Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp will take Tottenham into their first London derby of the campaign brimming with confidence and beaming with pride after his side's excellent start to the new season. After a lacklustre Liverpool team were vanquished at White Hart Lane, Hull were then dispatched with some aplomb thanks to Jermain Defoe's lethal hat-trick. All parts of Harry's team are firing, with new signing Sebastien Bassong forming a solid partnership with the old warhorse Ledley King. Aaron Lennon looks lively and dangerous while Wilson Palacios has added bite to his midfield - a must-have quality for any capital showdown. Up front, Robbie Keane is getting better with each game and Defoe is on a roll. The Hammers have yet to be tested and Harry will be confident of sniffing out three points on his old stomping ground.

Gianfranco Zola won't be too displeased himself after West Ham's opening day win at newly promoted Wolves. Two goals and a clean sheet is no small feat given the fanfare and fervour surrounding Wanderers' big day back in the top flight. If the first 45 minutes were comfortable, the second half was anything but as Rob Green pulled off a string of superb saves. Zola relies heavily on the defensive solidity provided by the reliable Matthew Upson, and Scott Parker who runs the protective screen in midfield. In the attacking third Zola pins his hopes squarely on Carlton Cole and his good early season form should provide a test for Bassong and King. Despite countless operations and setbacks Kieron Dyer still possesses the pace to trouble any defence, while Jack Collison and Mark Noble are also keen to press and probe. Zola will hope to squeeze the life out of Keane and Defoe and bank on Cole to create openings at the other end.

Scott Parker v Wilson Palacios

Palacios has added the necessary snap to a Tottenham midfield that is more geared towards attacking players like Luka Modric, Lennon and Tom Huddlestone. A tireless runner he can be equally as effective at both ends of the field, as his spoiler-style display against Liverpool and goal against Hull in midweek testify. A tough tackler with a big engine, Palacios will run all day long and embodies the British bulldog spirit - via Honduras - Harry Redknapp is keen to instil at Spurs. The 25-year-old's job, in a nutshell, is to get it and give it.

Scott Parker is a similar player and one Zola puts as much trust in as Redknapp does Palacios. After an injury-hit first season at Upton Park, Parker managed 28 Premier League games last season. He is the vital link man between defence and attack. Together with Mark Noble (usually) he provides the protection in front of the Hammers' back four. The Boleyn crowd loves a tackle and Parker will be expected to make plenty, in the hope of putting Spurs' flair players off their game. His main focus will be shadowing Keane, and providing support to his full-backs, who will be attempting to shackle Lennon and Modric.

Carlton Cole v Ledley King

Ledley King was rested for Wednesday's mauling of Hull City, in line with his one game a week policy. It's a measure of King's class that he can play so many games at such a high level without any training at all - save for a few lengths of his own private swimming pool. There's no question Spurs are a far more cohesive unit with King than without. The same, of course, can be said of Jonathan Woodgate. King and his new partner Sebastien Bassong will have their hands full with Carlton Cole who seems to have morphed into an all-action Premier League centre-forward in the space of a year. King is rarely beaten in the air and his positional sense has always been sound, but his lack of fitness may be an issue as the game - and his knee - wears on.

For all the trumpeting about Cole's excellent form of last season he only scored ten Premier League goals in 26 games. A good return, but not a great one. What is not in doubt is his importance to the side, especially in the continued absence of Dean Ashton. As he proved in his fleeting appearance for England against Holland recently, his strength can prove a handful for any defence. Cole's hold up play has improved immeasurably and he converts more chances than he ever did - given the service he will score goals. If he manages to steer clear of injuries this could finally be the breakthrough season Cole has been threatening for five years.

Matthew Upson v Jermain Defoe

Defoe will always be afforded a spicy reception at Upton Park, largely due to the transfer request he slapped in within 24 hours of West Ham's relegation to the second tier at the end of the 2002-03 season. The best way to silence a vitriolic crowd is with goals, and with the form he is in, the chances of Defoe doing just that are high. In the mood he exhibited against Hull, Defoe will cause problems for any defence. His three goals were clinical, precise and powerful, and he carved enough opportunities to bag himself a double hat-trick. Defoe is hugely reliant on his service from Keane, who drops into the hole, and Tottenham's wingers. He's no mug in the air, but clearly, is more potent with the ball at his feet. His pace will undoubtedly pose Upson and the in-demand James Collins (a target for Aston Villa and Stoke) problems.

Upson is another Hammers defender linked with a move away from east London, with Martin O'Neill and David Moyes recently having made enquiries about him. At 30 he may have missed his chance of one last move, but is still a regular in Fabio Capello's England squad. Upson always manages to appear quietly assured without ever breaking into the totally convincing category. His record so far this season reads played one, scored one, one clean sheet, though keeping Wolves at bay proved a tougher task than many had predicted. Comfortable in the air, Upson's main aerial threat will come from advancing Spurs centre-backs at set pieces, a favour he is sure to return at the other end. He is certain to be tested by Defoe's pace, and the problem created by Keane's roaming role.

STATZONE:
•  Spurs did the double over West Ham last season winning 1-0 at White Hart Lane and 2-0 at Upton Park. West Ham's last double over Spurs was in the 1998/99 season.
•  Ledley King in the Premier League 08/09: Played: 24, Won: 11, Clean Sheets: 8, Goals: 1.
•  King's only goal last season came at Upton Park, when Spurs won 2-0.
•  West Ham v Spurs in the Premier League: Played: 28, Won: 9, Lost: 13, Drawn: 6.
• Since the 1946/47 season there have only been three 0-0 draws between the sides in 101 league and cup games.
•  Biggest wins at Upton Park: 1962/63: West Ham 1-6 Spurs. 1963/64: West Ham 4-0 Spurs.

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