Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tottenham 1-1 West Ham: Honours even at Wembley after two wonder strikes

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Premier League 4 Jan 2018

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Tottenham welcomed London rivals West Ham to Wembley for the two teams’ second game in as many days in what is a hectic Premier League schedule. Spurs sat in fifth place in the table heading into this clash, and needed a win to keep pace with their top four rivals. The Hammers meanwhile were hovering just one point above the relegation zone and knew that a positive result would help provide some separation from the bottom three.

A cagey start to this London derby

The atmosphere inside Wembley was unsurprisingly electric as the two London rivals came head-to-head for the third time this season. It was the home side that started the brighter, with early success down the left flank almost resulting in an early opener from Harry Kane at the front post. A succession of corners allowed Tottenham to pepper the Hammers’ goal, but Adrian stood firm. West Ham had little success in the final third during the opening exchanges, and their usual aerial threat looked depleted without the likes of Andy Carroll and Marko Arnautovic.

In truth the visitors looked fairly tentative in the first quarter of an hour, and looked perhaps more interested in keeping the game close in order to grab a winner on the counter. Their deep setup allowed the likes of Heung-min Son in particular room to have a run at the defenders, which put the likes of Winston Reid on the back foot more often than not. The possession stats reflected Tottenham’s early dominance, but penetration had been slightly lacking from Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Tottenham push but can’t find an opener

Both Son and Ben Davies were having huge amounts of success down the left wing, but David Moyes’ men dealt well with the low crosses fizzed in towards the feet of Kane. The striker did have one effort that went close on the half hour mark, but his curling shot from the edge of the box was parried away well by Adrian. Christian Eriksen had an almost identical effort just moments later, but the Dane’s shot bobbled just wide of the far post. The two opportunities did seem to lift the crowd and provided warning signs to the Hammers defenders.

On multiple occasions West Ham looked as if they were one pass away from opening up the Tottenham back line on the break, only for the wrong pass to be played or a timely block to be made. There was definitely space behind Spurs’ back line, but Moyes’ men rarely looked for Javier Hernandez with a pass over the top. As the clock ticked on toward the break, the home side seemed to have run out of ideas in the final third, and Kane cut a frustrated and isolated figure up top in the final ten minutes of the half.

West Ham deal well with the threat of Kane

The second period started in much the same fashion to the first, with Tottenham settling into long spells of possession without really creating anything clear-cut. Much of the play was focussed between ten and twenty yards from the West Ham box, with Spurs knocking the ball around quickly but the Hammers retaining their shape well. Harry Kane struggled to get a touch of the ball just as he had in the first half, and Moyes’ game plan to neutralise the England international was clearly being executed to perfection.

The best chance of the second period fell to Son near the hour mark, courtesy of a deflected cross from Dele Alli. The South Korean star set himself well, but dragged his shot slightly and Adrian managed to get down quickly to make the stop. Once again Eriksen followed up with a remarkable similar chance a few minutes afterwards, but his effort was blocked well, which was something that had been a feature of the Hammers’ stoic defending.

Obiang stuns Wembley, but Son replies in style 

With twenty minutes to go Harry Kane finally found space in the box to turn and release a shot, but somehow Pablo Zabaleta got back to make a vital block. The resulting ball was contested by both Alli and Adrian, and it looked as if the West Ham shot stopper had punched the midfielder on his way up for a header. Nothing was given by the referee Mike Dean however and still the Hammers managed to hang on to their clean sheet.

Up the other end West Ham finally found some meaningful possession, but it still took an absolute thunder cracker of a shot from Pedro Obiang to finally break the deadlock, but at the other end of the pitch than everyone had expected. The midfielder picked up the ball 30-yards from goal, took one touch to get the ball out from under his feet, and unleashed a venomous shot that beat Hugo Lloris high and true just inside the near post.

After the goal it became a backs to the wall defensive effort from the visitors, and, unbelievably, it took another wonder strike, this time from Son, to bring Spurs level. The winger unleashed his shot from a similar position to Obiang, before swerving the ball brilliantly away from the diving Adrian. It was a sensational way for Tottenham to salvage a point, and as the referee’s whistle blew it ended honours even at Wembley.

Final Thoughts

In the end Tottenham did well to earn a point in this game, but Mauricio Pochettino will consider this to be two points dropped. His side utterly dominated for the vast majority of the game, but could only break the Hammers down with a stunning effort from Son. Spurs are by no means out of the race for the top four, but results like this could cost them at the end of the season.

In truth West Ham probably didn’t deserve a point in this game, but a hard-fought defensive effort, coupled with a cracker from Obiang, allowed them to cause an upset in this derby. The Irons look much improved defensively under David Moyes, but their attacking efforts were essentially non-existent in this game.

Match Report

Tottenham: Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies (Llorente, 82’); Dier (Wanyama, 74’), Sissoko (Lamela, 74’), Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane

West Ham: Adrián; Reid, Ogbonna, Rice, Zabaleta, Masuaku; Kouyate, Noble, Obiang, Lanzini (Carroll, 85’); Hernandez (Ayew, 65’)

Goals: Obiang (0-1, 70’), Son (1-1, 84’)

Referee: Mike Dean

Yellow Cards: Carroll (87’), Noble (90’)

Red Cards: None

Player Ratings

Tottenham: Lloris 6; Aurier 7, Sanchez 6.5, Vertonghen 6.5, Davies 6.5 (Llorente n/a); Dier 6.5 (Wanyama n/a), Sissoko 6 (Lamela n/a), Eriksen 6.5, Alli 6.5, Son 8.5; Kane 6

West Ham: Adrián 7; Reid 7, Ogbonna 7, Rice 6.5, Zabaleta 7, Masuaku 6; Kouyate 6, Noble 6, Obiang 8, Lanzini 6.5 (Carroll n/a); Hernandez 6 (Ayew 6)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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