A spectacular second half performance saw Tottenham Hotspur take all three points from London rival West Ham United by the final score of 2-0.
Antonio Conte missed the match as he takes time to recover from his medical procedure, leaving Christian Stellini in charge of the side. The lineup consisted of an attacking band that didn’t include Heung-Min Son, who was left out of the starting XI for the first time since September. Ben Davies lined up at left wingback while Clement Lenglet took the left center-back position to change things up. Oliver Skipp earned the start in midfield with Rodrigo Bentancur injured for the season.
1’ - Not a great start for Spurs. Richarlison with a terrible turnover out to touch and West Ham gets going quickly. Jarrod Bowen finds himself at the top of the box alone and fires a powerful shot wide of the post, but not by much.
9’ - Yellow Card, Tottenham Hotspur - Not great from Skippy there as he sloppily takes down Antonio at midfield. Pretty easy decision by Michael Oliver.
12’ - Big shouts for hand ball at the end of an attack by Spurs. Oliver waved it off almost immediately but VAR is checking it.....and nothing, even though replay shows a pretty clear handball. Who even knows the rule anymore.
I’ll just drop this off in here for now:
According to IFAB, it is an offence if a player:
Deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball
Touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation
Scores in the opponents’ goal; directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper, or, immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental
So yeah, who the hell knows?
22’ - Pretty similar story to much of the season so far. Spurs seem to be one pass away on their attacks and just can’t piece it together. With the exception of the Bowen chance, the defense has been quite good.
33’ - Emerson Royal is busting his ass. Spurs have an attack that kind of peters out with a lazy cross, but Emerson beats Bowen to the touch line and deflects off him for a corner. He’s been all over the pitch today.
36’ - With the crowd urging Spurs to shoot, Hojbjerg pulls the trigger on a shot from 20 yards out, but Fabianski snuffs it out with a diving save.
41’ - Cuti goes down after a great tackle on the touchline. He’s getting treatment but everyone is holding their breath.
42’ - Cuti jogs into position and looks to be ready to come back on.
43’ - And now Clement Lenglet is down with a head injury. Spurs players waved over the bench staff almost immediately. A couple of minutes of treatment and it looks like he’s okay, but he definitely looked dazed.
45’+1’ - Outstanding pass by Kane to find Richarlison. Fabianski was a bit out of position, but recovered enough to make the save.
45’+2’ - Another great chance for Spurs on the corner as Cuti gets free and heads a shot toward net, but it’s just over the crossbar. Fabianski looked to have it covered but that’s a tough miss.
HALF TIME: It’s a scoreless affair at the break, though Spurs looked threatening in the last few minutes.
No changes for either side.
48’ - A missed opportunity to open up the second half as Spurs get free on the break. Deki thought about trying to curl one, but he laid it off for Richarlison, but the shot is scuffed and Fabianski has no trouble gathering it.
49’ - It’s not every day we see Harry Kane completely scuff a shot, and yet he just did with arguably the best chance of the match to score.
53’ - The attacking band breaks free again as Deki marauds down the right flank. Cutting in, he attempts a curler that could have been either a shot or a pass, but it misses everything out to touch. It feels like it’s coming, though.
56’ - GOAL, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Royal, 1-0) - There it is! Spurs break free once again and it’s the fullbacks leading the charge. Davies takes a great pass from Hojbjerg and feeds a streaking Emerson right down Broadway, who coolly slides it in the corner.
58’ - West Ham come right back after the goal as Bowen gets a shot on net with Cuti right in his face. Forster gets down quickly and makes a solid save.
61’ - Yellow Card, West Ham United - Antonio goes into the book for a hard challenge on Kane.
63’ - A little cheeky by Deki as he gives Fabianski a love tap while he tries to clear a ball.
67’ - Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur - Heung-Min Son comes on for Richarlison. Time to unleash Sonny against tired legs.
71’ - Substitution, West Ham United - Double sub for the Hammers as Antonio and Benrahama make way for Ings and Downes.
72’ - GOAL, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Son, 2-0) - Easy peasy! Kane fights off a defender to win the ball and quickly looks for Sonny, who is streaking at the right time. One touch, shot, goal.
75’ - West Ham get a free kick just outside the box, but it’s ultimately harmless as Benrahama sends it over the crossbar.
78’ - Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur - Clement Lenglet gets a break as Ivan Perisic comes on. He’ll go to left wingback and Davies moves back into left centerback.
81’ - Substitution, West Ham United - Johnson comes on for Ogbonna while Emerson makes way for Fornals.
86’ - Spurs supporters serenading the West Ham supporters and reminding them of their place on the table.
89’ - Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur - Double sub as Lucas comes on for Deki. Sarr gives Skippy a break for the final few minutes.
90’+1’ - Spurs give up a free kick as Perisic fouls Bowen near the touchline. Bowen’s in enough pain where he can’t take the kick.
90’+3’ - Yellow Card, Tottenham Hotspur - Perisic has another hard foul and this time he’ll earn a booking while it gets a tad chippy with the group.
FULL TIME: Spurs take all three points with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United.
Thoughts on the Match
- If you told me three months ago that Emerson Royal would somehow channel prime Cafu, I would have laughed in your face. He was fantastic again and added a goal to boot.
- Ben Davies was pretty great as well! It was an interesting choice, but it definitely worked as Davies was dangerous at times in attack while solid in defense.
- Christian Stellini is now six for six as a substitution manager in his career. If Conte takes an extended break, he sure seems to have the formula.
- There were some interesting switches in the second half, but particularly good was the attacking band switching up positions often. Kane played out left to allow Richy and Deki to press more. West Ham had no answer for it and Spurs capitalized.
- Not a bad shift from Skippy in midfield, even with the early yellow card.
- I’m still mad at the handball. You will not convince me that wasn’t a penalty and it’s getting tired that rule changes that are made to “simplify” things are only making things worse. “What is a handball” is now just as bad as “What is a catch” in the NFL.
- With the victory, Spurs move into fourth place, though Newcastle have a match in hand.
- Happy Sunday everyone! Next up is Chelsea in a week.