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Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 West Ham United: Second half goals strike hammer blow as Spurs fall at home

That hurt.

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur were looking to build some momentum after a well-deserved point away at Manchester City, and would have hoped a visit by West Ham United could have been the perfect tonic with which to do so. The Lilywhites were buoyed by the return of Cristian Romero to the starting lineup, as well as the return of Pape Matar Sarr to the bench following his recovery from a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, the hopes going into this match were dashed, as a second half resurgence by the Hammers punished Spurs’ wastefulness in the attacking third.

Things started well for the Lilywhites, and there was early excitement as Dejan Kulusevski nearly found his way through on goal, only to be found offside. That moment was a harbinger of Spurs’ first half dominance, where after a convincing opening ten minues where they controlled 92% of possession. The Lilywhites soon made their supremacy count, as they opened the scoring by way of a set piece. Pedro Porro’s corner kick from the right was curled into a good area, and Romero, fresh back from his suspension, rose high above the defense to nestle a header into the postage stamp. It was extremely well-placed, and Lukasz Fabianski could do nothing to keep it out.

West Ham were inches though from striking back immediately: Mohamed Kudus’ close range shot whistled past Guglielmo Vicario’s left-hand post after a low cross from Jarrod Bowen. An offside flag spared his blushes, however, as replays showed the Ghanaian was well past the last defender. It wasn’t the last time either, as Kudus was played through around the half-hour mark, again striking wide, and again well offside.

Spurs continued to hunt for a second before half-time. Giovani Lo Celso had his shooting boots on, curving an effort wide from outside the box before stinging the palms of Fabianski with a well-hit volley; Kulusevski and Yves Bissouma also came close, with a flurry of shots after Ben Davies was inches away from connecting with a curled Lo Celso cross.

A headed chance from Lucas Paqueta late in the first half was all West Ham could muster in response, his effort sailing hilariously wide much to the delight of the home fans. They were more accurate at the other end, however, with Kurt Zouma nearly deflecting the ball into his own goal following a flowing attacking move by Spurs. The woodwork kept the margin to a solitary goal, and the first half finished with a 1-0 Spurs lead.

Tottenham continued to attack in the second half, as Heung-Min Son was played in by Brennan Johnson. Somehow though, the move didn’t result in a shot, and Spurs then paid for their profligacy. A Kudus speculator took a double deflection, ricocheting off both Romero and Davies, before falling to Bowen, who was completely open in the Spurs 18-yard box. He calmly slotted past Vicario and the scores were level.

West Ham were looking the more energetic side, with Tottenham in need of reinforcements: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had faded badly in the second half, so he made way for Richarlison in what seemed like an attacking substitution; however, the other sub was slightly more of a headscratcher, with Postecoglou pulling Lo Celso for Oliver Skipp, which seemed questionable with Spurs in search of a goal.

Richarlison nearly made an instant impact: Porro floated in an inch-perfect cross to the far post and the Brazilian made good contact, only for the header to sail past the post with the goal begging. It was a miss that somewhat summed up Richarlison’s Tottenham career to this point, and James Ward-Prowse made the Lilywhites pay in response. An awful pass from Destiny Udogie intended for Vicario was well underhit, and with Bowen bearing down on goal Vicario stretched himself to try punch clear. The ball deflected off Bowen onto the post, before falling to Ward-Prowse who tapped the ball into an open Spurs goal to give West Ham a 2-1 lead.

Spurs tried to make their way back into the match with some additional substitutions, as Bryan Gil and Sarr entered the fray for Bissouma and Johnson, before a limping Son was pulled for Alejo Veliz. While Spurs were looking to attack, West Ham were looking to lock things down, however, and David Moyes brought on Pablo Fornals for Kudus to help secure the result. Outside of a late (unsuccessful) shout for handball, Spurs were unable to trouble the Hammers’ goal again, and West Ham celebrated a 2-1 win.

Reactions

  • If the City match felt like one step forward, this one felt like two backward. It was a really poor second half performance.
  • The tactical tweaks made by Moyes at half-time made a huge difference for West Ham. Paqueta was pushed forward to make a front four, and after routinely turning the ball over in the middle of the park they bypassed the midfield, looking to go long quickly. The additional number in attack often meant the West Ham players were matching up one-on-one with Spurs defenders, and they were also able to apply more pressure when Spurs were on the ball.
  • Spurs on the other hand displayed a pattern that has been somewhat typical in recent weeks: early dominance, followed by a combative middle period, followed by fading late. It’s possible the late drop-off is due in part to the lack of depth in the Spurs squad, but Ange needs to find a solution ASAP. Earlier subs could help, but unfortunately bench options are currently pretty limited.
  • If we saw the best of Dejan Kulusevski against City, we saw the worst today. Predictable, poor decision-making, and a black hole in attack, constantly dwelling too long on the ball. He always works hard, but we really needed more from him today.
  • On the bright side, you saw just how much of an impact having Cuti back made. Goal aside, there was one defensive moment around the 39-minute mark that highlighted his quality. West Ham left-back Emerson broke forward into space, and Cuti waited and waited, before forcing Emerson to turn back. He then won the ball and played it forward, immediately getting Spurs on the front foot. I’ve missed him.
  • About the second West Ham goal: if West Ham don’t score there, the ref definitely calls things back for a backpass. The punishment there is an indirect free kick; however, where things get a bit murky is handling a backpass can be subject to the same penalties as a handball in a denial of goal scoring opportunity situation. That means Vicario could have very well received a red card and been suspended for Newcastle. It’s up to you to decide whether or not that would have been worth it had West Ham missed.
  • I really hope Son’s knock isn’t too bad. He was limping heavily for a while there and didn’t look comfortable when he came off.
  • It’s not getting any easier with Newcastle up next. Hopefully the team can shake this off and rekindle the vibes against an injury-hit Magpies side.