However, the Lilywhites’ pre-match preparations were thrown into disarray when several of their players were affected by food poisoning the night before the game.
Calls for the clash to be postponed fell on deaf ears. And although Defoe equalised after 35 minutes, Yossi Benayoun’s 80th-minute strike condemned Tottenham to a 2-1 defeat which – combined with Arsenal’s win over Wigan in their final match at Highbury – meant Spurs slipped below the Gunners into fifth place.
Speaking in an exclusive One-on-One interview in the May 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, Defoe says the game definitely should have been rearranged, as some of his team-mates were so ill they couldn’t even walk.
“It should have been postponed,” he says. “I woke up on the morning of the game and the doctor called me to ask, 'Are you OK?' I told him I was, and he informed me that a few of the boys were feeling ill. I thought he must mean it was one or two. Even if you get a couple of players sick that’s serious bad luck.
“But it was five or six players and they couldn’t even walk about. I thought, ‘Something has definitely gone on here – one of the West Ham lads has done something to the food.’ If we'd put a full-strength team out that day, then we would have done it [match Arsenal's result to clinch a top-four place].”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Jermain Defoe in the May 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, in which we profile Paul Pogba and his attempt to conquer the toughest job in football, and reveal our latest rundown of the Top 50 Football League Players. Also this month, we discover how rows, rage and relegation helped to make Antonio Conte a winner, travel to Belgium with a group of protesting Charlton Athletic fans, meet the UK’s first female manager of a senior men's football team, and investigate how excess, addiction and divorce is leading the game’s young, rich and famous to financial ruin. Order it now, then subscribe!