The first match in the post-Pochettino era got off on the right foot as Spurs broke their duck on the road with a 3-2 victory over West Ham.
José Mourinho’s first Tottenham side included an Eric Dier - Harry WInks pivot with Dele ahead of them in a 4-2-3-1. Lucas made his first league start in awhile on the wing while the back four consisted of Ben Davies, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier.
Everyone was curious how Mourinho would set up his team tactically. That became apparent quickly as Kane set up shop at the top of the formation and promptly got called offside twice on through balls. Maybe a slight surprise was the first free kick that was delegated to Harry Winks, though it wasn’t for an attempt on target as he curled the ball in on a set piece that was also called offside.
Spurs controlled the flow of the match for most of the first half, though West Ham had a couple of chances though their best one came on a set piece that was deflected by Sanchez, thankfully right at Paulo Gazzaniga.
It felt like a breakthrough was imminent as the match pressed on. Spurs worked possessions to get through balls and 1-2 passing combinations. Eventually, one of the combinations worked as Dele took a quick touch and played Son in on net. A deke to his right, dribble to his left later and Sonny blasted the ball past Roberto to give Spurs a 1-0 lead.
Spurs weren’t done before the break. After a random VAR check on a rather uneventful play, Tottenham pushed forward on the left flank. Dele took a pass on the touch line while falling back. Somehow, he kept the ball in play and shoveled it forward to a streaking Son, who blew by Ryan Fredricks and curled the ball into the penalty area. Lucas outran the defense and got on the end of it just enough to poke the ball past Roberto for a 2-0 lead.
No changes were made for Tottenham at the half. None were obviously needed as Spurs shot themselves out of a cannon to start. After a terrible set piece by West Ham, Lucas started the counter attack by feeding Son in the middle, who passed it back to the Brazilian. Lucas was on, but his attempt went wide of the net. It looked like he may have changed his mind mid-shot and tried to cross it to Dele but led him too much.
Spurs didn’t let it get to them and went right at West Ham again. After forcing a turnover, Serge Aurier ripped a cross to the six yard box and found a leaping Kane. One powerful header later and Spurs had a 3-0 lead. The rout was on.
Tottenham settled into a defensive bunker after the third goal, stifling West Ham’s midfield and trying to break on the counter when they could. There were some half-chances but nothing that materialized. Harry Kane had a golden opportunity on a long ball to make it four, but a timely tackle took away his chance about twelve yards out.
West Ham wouldn’t be denied forever, unfortunately. Spurs had a breakdown in the back in the 72nd minute as the Hammers got a shot off that was blocked by Sanchez, but only cleared out for a moment. Michail Antonio found a yard of space and fired a shot past a diving Gazzaniga to claw one back for the home side.
After some fun and expected sh*thousery from both sides that resulted in a few yellow cards and one terrible American football tackle from Robert Snodgrass, West Ham thought they pulled another one back in the 88th minute. Declan Rice cleaned up a header that was going wide and, initially, the goal stood. VAR stepped in and ruled Rice offside to nullify the goal.
West Ham did get their second goal in the dying embers from Angelo Ogbonna as he broke free on a set piece to volley one into the net in the 96th minute. Anthony Taylor brought the match to an end after the ensuing kickoff to give Spurs all three points.
Thoughts on the Match:
- It wasn’t pretty at the end, but it’s three points on the road. We haven’t had that since January.
- That’s the best match I’ve seen Dele play in a very long time. He was brilliant today.
- Lucas got a start and he ran with it. Easy to forgive that miss in the second half since he got on the scoresheet in the first half.
- Dier is going to get more chances, but he looked sluggish as hell.
- I do not think this is going to be the preferred starting XI for Mourinho. With Champions League midweek, Lo Celso will probably start that match and hopefully we see Ndombele.
- There wasn’t enough of Eriksen on the pitch to get a gauge for how he’s reacting to the change.
- Three points in a derby is nothing to sneeze at. For now, Spurs move up to sixth.
- Bring on Olympiacos.