Tottenham Hotspur had an opportunity to potentially clinch their place in the top four of the Premier League today with a match against West Ham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It did not, to say the least, go according to plan. An exhausted Spurs team couldn’t find their way past Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski, while Michail Antonio scored the first ever opposition goal at Spurs’ new home in the second half to lead West Ham to a 1-0 win.
Spurs may have a huge Champions League match against Ajax coming up on Tuesday, but the lineup Mauricio Pochettino put out showed he was focusing only on the match in front of him. Jan Vertonghen was rested due to “a touch of fatigue” but Spurs rolled out their usual 4-4-2 diamond lineup against the Hammers, with Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura at the tip of the spear. Davinson Sanchez replaced Vertonghen in the back line, with Juan Foyth and Ben Davies as the fullbacks. Danny Rose slotted back into the starting XI as a left sided midfielder, along with Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli.
West Ham showed for the ball quite brightly to start the first half, pressuring high on Spurs and keeping the bulk of the possession in the opening minutes. Declan Rice had the first shot of the match, rocketing a ball over the bar in the 2nd minute while Spurs tried to settle into the match.
Spurs tried to use their speed and strength to break through West Ham’s defensive line early on, with Son getting Spurs’ first shot in the 4th minute, an effort that went high and wide of the mark.
Spurs’ first shot on target came in the 12th from a nice run from Son Heung-Min and a very good pass from Dele Alli to find him on the break, but Hammers keeper Lukas Fabianski did well to go low and prevent Sonny from scoring. Dele had another opportunity on a break a minute later after Christian Eriksen put a ball over the top for Dele to run onto, but instead of squaring the ball to a potentially-open Son, Dele moved centrally and had his shot blocked.
West Ham had another good opportunity in the 19th minute after Davinson Sanchez got caught out of possession, letting Felipe Anderson run at goal. Toby Alderweireld did a good job cutting out the attack, and Anderson’s shot was easily collected by Lloris.
Lucas, who had a fine first half, nearly got the opening goal on a snap snot in the 26th minute, but his cross-goal ball went just inches wide of the left post.
The first half was quite open, with both teams getting forward and taking shots. Spurs had the majority of possession, but was surprisingly wayward with their passing, leading to opportunities on the counter for West Ham. Still, Spurs looked the more dangerous team with the ball, if only just.
Another Spurs chance came 10 minutes before the halftime whistle when some nice passing interplay in the West Ham box led to Christian Eriksen trying a shot from an acute angle. Unfortunately, Fabianski was well positioned and was able to block away Eriksen’s shot attempt.
Juan Foyth had a try from the flanks for Spurs in the final few minutes of the half, and Hugo went low to deny a partially deflected shot from Felipe Anderson, but the first half ended with the score deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half kicked off with no changes to either side.
West Ham came out bright with a couple of shots at goal, but Spurs’ defense was up to the challenge, with Hugo and Toby Alderweireld both making stops.
The Hammers had a decent opportunity in the 52nd minute after Davinson Sanchez was whistled for a weak foul in Spurs’ half. The free kick curled to the back post, but the linesman flagged for offside.
Spurs looked decidedly tired in the second half, and it appeared to affect some of their attacking decisions. In the 55th minute, Son sprung Dele going forward who broke into space inside West Ham’s box, but instead of trying for a shot, Dele opted to cross to the back post, and West Ham were able to scramble the ball away.
A minute later Spurs thought they had a penalty shout after Masuaku appeared to shove Son to the ground in the box with two hands, but match official Anthony Taylor did not see any harm in the challenge and waved play on.
Spurs had a free kick just outside of the box in the 60th minute, but Eriksen’s shot went off the wall and started a West Ham counter that led to a corner kick. Hugo came off his line to punch the corner free and Tottenham eventually reset.
Spurs didn’t make their first substitution until the 66th minute, when Pochettino opted to bring on Fernando Llorente for Lucas Moura. It was a curious decision, as Lucas had been one of the brightest of Spurs’ attackers on the day.
And immediately afterwards, West Ham made Spurs pay. Marko Arnautovic chipped a nice ball from the corner of the box into Michail Antonio who was able to bring the ball down with his chest against Davinson Sanchez and fire the ball past Hugo to put the Hammers in the league. It was the first goal scored by an opponent at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and put enormous pressure on Spurs with 20 minutes to play.
Ben Davies nearly had the equalizer at 73’ after Dele played him in on goal, but Ryan Fredericks was able to dive and get his legs in the way of Davies’ shot. An excellent bit of defending from the former Spurs man.
Spurs made their second change at 76’ with Vincent Janssen coming on for Danny Rose, while West Ham brought on Pedro Obiang for Robert Snodgrass. Spurs dialed up the intensity as they tried to find a way through West Ham’s defensive line.
Hugo Lloris made a fine save on an Arnautovic shot at 79’, and the West Ham striker was then subbed off for Lucas Perez. Michail Antonio then forced another save from Hugo on a counterattack.
With six minutes plus extra time to play, an obviously gassed Dele Alli made way for Victor Wanyama, while West Ham took off captain Mark Noble for center back Gabriel Ogbonna. Wanyama’s first contribution was a hospital ball pass in midfield that led to a one-on-one with Hugo for Issa Diop. Thankfully, Hugo was able to get a finger on the ball and tip the ball out for a corner.
With five CBs and an inspired defense, West Ham never really let Spurs back into the match, though Spurs nearly had it at the death — Juan Foyth found Vincent Janssen at the back post, but Valbuena somehow was able to block away Thicc Vin’s header at the goal line.
The final whistle blew immediately after with Tottenham squandering their chance to clinch top four, falling to West Ham 0-1.
- Of course it’s West Ham. It was always going to be West Ham who scores the first goal at Spurs’ new stadium and pick up a garbage win to be the answer to a trivia question. Losing 1-0 at home to West Ham in a super important match for Spurs’ top four hopes is at least extremely on brand. I wonder if the Hammers will make t-shirts.
- Tottenham looked exhausted almost from the opening kick and almost completely devoid of ideas at times. If Spurs can’t get a goal at home against this trash West Ham defense, it makes me super worried about what we’ll do without Sonny against Ajax.
- Spurs didn’t lose this match because of the officials, but Anthony Taylor had a bad match today, missing what was a stone-cold penalty on Sonny in the box. Masuaku clearly had two hands on Son and shoved him, and all Spurs got was a finger-wag from Taylor, who let a number of hard challenges go as well.
- If you want a positive, Lucas Moura was very good today, dropping deep at times to disrupt West Ham’s midfield play, and putting in some positive attacking moves.
- Screw this match. Let’s go crush Bournemouth and make none of this matter.
- FiveThirtyEight still has Spurs with an 87% chance of qualifying for top four, and those odds could improve depending on results between Manchester United-City and Leicester-Arsenal tomorrow. Chins up. We’re not done.