West Ham fell to their second Premier League defeat in a row against a well-organised Tottenham Hotspur side on Saturday.
In what was always going to be a difficult game for the Hammers, a late first-half goal from Erik Lamela secured the victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. The Irons pressed for an equaliser in the second half but were thwarted by some top keeping from Spurs’ number one, Hugo Lloris.
There were two changes to the West Ham side from the team that lost 1-0 at Brighton a couple of weeks ago. Following Manuel Pellegrini’s admission that Arthur Masuaku suffered a slight knock on international duty, it was no surprise to see Aaron Cresswell drafted into the side. There had been a number of calls for the left-back to be recalled to the starting line-up, anyway.
The other switch came in midfield. This one was a bit surprising, though, with Robert Snodgrass coming in to replace Pedro Obiang. The Spaniard’s omission from the side was originally a strange one, but Pellegrini has now confirmed that he was injured, although it is not serious.
Analysing West Ham defensively
The Hammers, on the whole, have been much better at the back lately and that was no different against Spurs. For large portions of the game, West Ham dealt with the threat that their opponent’s posed up top and limited them to just two shots on target. It is hard to be too critical of any of the defenders, with regards to their defensive duties, as they all did their jobs well.
However, the match was lost in midfield, particularly in the first half. In recent weeks, Obiang had been a standout player in the engine room for the Irons. His absence meant that the Tottenham midfielders had plenty of time on the ball, to move the ball about at will and breeze through the midfield unchallenged. This was most notably Moussa Sissoko, who was being marshalled by the more-offensive Snodgrass, towards the left of West Ham’s central midfield. It was far too open at times and will need to be evaluated, should Obiang be unavailable at the weekend.
Pellegrini’s side were also too open out wide – again, this was mostly in the first half. Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko are both luxury players. The pair need to learn that these are the games that you simply have to step up for and, even if you don’t necessarily play well, you have to give your absolute all. Before Yarmolenko, unfortunately, picked up his injury, he was guilty of letting Ben Davies wander forward unmarked and it could have been more of a problem.
As for Anderson, for anyone that was at the game, you will know just how bad he was. Everything he touched went wrong. It was the midfielder’s mistake that lost West Ham the game – and it’s as simple as that. Time and time again, he ambled back and made lazy, nonchalant tackles and eventually, it led to a goal. The Brazilian needs to step it up and actually help his full-back out once in a while.
Analysing West Ham offensively
The first half offensively was practically non-existent for the Hammers or, it might as well have been, anyway. The set up just didn’t seem to really work and the creative players, such as Anderson and Yarmolenko, were not getting on the ball in areas where they could hurt Tottenham. This was also as a result of Pochettino’s side dominating the ball throughout most of the half, but when West Ham were in possession, they were incredibly lazy and lethargic with it.
There were spells where the Irons got in behind, but the final ball was never really good enough. They did force Spurs into giving away a number of corners, but the less said about a certain individuals delivery from them, the better. Actually, let’s talk about them. Anderson put three corners in within the space of five minutes, and every single one of them barely reached the first man. For £40m, you expect better. It was those corners and the probably justified boos that did it for the winger – you could tell he wasn’t coming back from it.
That’s about it for the Hammers in the first half, to be honest. But, in fairness, after the break, they did come out and give it a real go. Grady Diangana, after coming on for Yarmolenko, did reasonably well and had some nice touches in the final third. It will take time, but perhaps he will get a proper go at it while the Ukranian faces up to six months on the sidelines.
It was the right decision from Pellegrini to haul Anderson off early in the second half – it just wasn’t his day, whatsoever. Snodgrass did pretty well out on the left after that, as he switched to a wide position and he actually looked like one of West Ham’s most likely men to make something happen. Although he did get quite a bit of support from Cresswell, the left-back appears to have lost all confidence when he’s coming forward and looks like a shadow of his former self. He is still the best option in that position, though.
Chicharito looked lively and he linked up with Arnautovic well on a couple of occasions, but apart from the goal he had ruled out, Tottenham’s defence marked him adequately and limited his chances. For most of the game, it was the same story for the Austrian, despite manufacturing a couple of opportunities out of nothing for himself. Just like the previous game against Brighton, it just wasn’t the Hammers’ or the forwards day.
The Irons deserved something out of it for their efforts, but it just wasn’t to be. Although the lack of desire shown by some players is a slight worry, there was very little between the two sides and West Ham are clearly still improving on their early season performances.
The defence looked strong again and, apart from the left-back position, the other three players have formulated a solid partnership and now look like nailed-on starters. Manuel Pellegrini’s team will play worse than they did on Saturday and win this season. They should not be too disheartened at the result, because it was top-four calibre side they came up against at the end of the day.
The result is sure to only add fuel to the fire ahead of Spurs’ second visit of the season to the London Stadium next week, though, where the East Londoners will be looking for a bit of Carabao Cup revenge against their rivals.