Tottenham Hotspur came up short today against West Ham, falling 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, their first loss at their new home. It was an especially troubling match, not only because nobody likes to lose in a London derby (and especially not to West Ham), but also because the three dropped points eliminated the cushion gained after Arsenal and Manchester United’s loss last week.
Spurs looked exhausted on the pitch, and it’s no wonder — they are still without Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, and Serge Aurier, all players that would’ve been extremely helpful to have in the run-in. But there’s nothing to be done.
Mauricio Pochettino admitted his team ran out of gas in the second half, but refused to make excuses for his team’s performance against the Hammers, saying the only thing they can do is keep looking forward.
“It is the reality. I think first half was good for us. Second half they were better. I think they showed more energy than us in the second half. We conceded a lot of space to run to players like Arnautovic and Antonio who can create problems for us when you concede that space, because we didn’t find a way to manage the ball properly and I think we lost a lot of balls, unforced, and we gave them the possibility to make their game.
“I am disappointed of course because it’s a setback and we wanted to win the three points to be in our position and arrive to the Champions League game in a very good mood and way, but it wasn’t and now we need to move on. Now it’s not about wasting time, it’s to recover and try again Tuesday to be ready to play.
“... We cannot say now we were thinking about [Ajax]. When the stress and fatigue arrived that is our reality. We are a very competitive team when we are with full energy, we are so focused. The stress and the fatigue arrived, we are competing with circumstances that are not the best. Nothing to say, the effort is there and is fantastic, but I’m disappointed with the result, because that result wasn’t in our plan, but that is football.”
This was a winnable game for Spurs and they should be disappointed not to get at least a point out of it. Maintaining a 3-4 point cushion over Chelsea and Arsenal would’ve made things feel a little less like there’s an anvil hanging over their heads waiting to fall. Now, Spurs need to wait for tomorrow’s important matchups between Leicester-Arsenal and Manchester United-Chelsea. If either Arsenal or Chelsea drop points tomorrow it will mitigate the effects of this loss somewhat.
It’s not going to get any easier going forward either. Pochettino suggested that Moussa Sissoko could be in line for a return for Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal against Ajax, and confirmed that Vertonghen will be back. However, Winks is set to miss the match, again, and one starts to wonder whether he’ll be back at all this season.
And then, Poch dropped some cryptic comments about Harry Kane, who twisted his ankle in Spurs’ Champions League win over Manchester City and who was expected to be out until the (hypothetical) Champions League final.
“We’ll see. Yesterday [he and Kane] were talking. We will see what happens. If you said to me he is going to be available for the second leg in Ajax or the last game against Everton, I don’t know. For sure it is going to be difficult. If we are capable to beat Ajax and be in the final in June 1 then maybe yes. Yesterday we were talking about that, we’ll see.”
Spurs have two games remaining in league play: an away match against a Bournemouth side that has lost three of its last four on May 4, and a tricky home tie against an Everton team that’s pushing for the top seven. Win both, and they qualify. Slip up anywhere else along the way and it could be an extremely anxious final day.