Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United slipped up in a key Premier League London derby on Saturday afternoon, losing 0-1 to Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur at London Stadium. Two days later, we are going to analyse five Massive Moments from the keenly-contested encounter, join us.
Yarmolenko Stretchered Off In Agony
Our first Massive Moment in what was an entertaining matchup in Stratford unsurprisingly arrived in the first half and it was an unfortunate one for all in the West Ham camp, one that affected them on the day and will continue to do so over the coming months.
It involved the right pivot in Pellegrini’s much-feared front three, which also contains Felipe Anderson and talisman Marko Arnautovic, Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko and what looked to be a very nasty injury to his heel, indeed.
From a corner the former Borussia Dortmund man helped to create by teeing up Robert Snodgrass to have his shot deflected over the bar on 38 minutes, the ball was half-cleared to the far post area and Yarmolenko peeled away and chased it down to re-deliver it into the box.
As he turned to pursue the free ball, the 28-year-old trod awkwardly and span away screaming in agony and holding his Achilles, he was to be stretchered off the field by the Hammers’ medical team and was in tears as he left to London Stadium applause.
Not only did the East Londoners miss him for the rest of the game, despite the excellent shift put in by his young replacement Grady Diangana, but they are now likely to be without him for around six months after it was confirmed he had torn his Achilles. A Massive Moment in the clash and the club’s season.
Lamela Fires Spurs In Front
The afternoon was about to go from bad to a hell of a lot worse in the first 3 PM Saturday meeting between the two sides since the opening day of the 2014/2015 campaign, when our second Massive Moment and the biggest of the day reared its head.
It came a mere six minutes after the costly injury and saw Pochettino’s Spurs hit the front at the end of a first half in which they arguably enjoyed the better of the play and deserved to lead at the end of.
If going behind itself wasn’t frustrating enough for members of the Claret & Blue Army, it was the manner of the strike that would have angered them the most as it involved a characteristic defensive switch-off.
To add insult to injury, it was almost entirely created by two Tottenham players that wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t for injuries to the likes of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, Moussa Sissoko and Eric Lamela.
The former was able to get the better of Anderson on the right flank and deliver intricately into the danger zone, there to meet the cross was Lamela the Argentine, getting ahead of Pablo Zabaleta to glance a rare header past Lukasz Fabianski. Could the visitors have scored at a better time?
Fabianski Keeps West Ham In It
Pochettino’s men may have broken the deadlock in the dying embers of the first period, but they could have even doubled their advantage before half-time as it seemed like the West Ham players had already headed into the dressing room for the break.
This is where we find our third Massive Moment in the form of a magnificent piece of goalkeeping from Hammers shot-stopper Fabianski, who has been the pick of their summer signings so far, to keep them in the game.
Once again, Lamela was involved for Spurs and once again, in an entirely parallel fashion, Anderson was involved again for the East London outfit, the former ghosting past the latter just outside the box on the right in the aftermath of a cleared free-kick.
Lamela’s cross/shot tested Fabianski, forcing him to push the ball away from the far corner and into the thick of it, in the danger zone, the best he could do really. Nevertheless, in the ruck of bodies, it fell to centre-back Davinson Sanchez.
The Columbian was on hand to get a low snap-shot off, but the Polish International was on his toes as ever to get in the way of it and prevent his team falling two goals down just before half-time, keeping the game alive and giving his teammates a chance in the second half.
Disallowed Goal Sums Up Hammers’ Afternoon
As expected, whatever Pellegrini said or rather shouted to his players in the dressing room at half-time seemed to work and there was a reaction in the second period, eventually leading to our penultimate Massive Moment.
The hosts pushed and pushed, hemming the away side in deep in their own half and going for that elusive and sought-after equaliser, one that would give them a great chance of getting a result against a team ten places above them in the Premier League table.
They had opportunities, which we will touch on a little later, but as we’ll find out, Hugo Lloris was in top form to prevent them from troubling the scorers on multiple occasions, but he was beaten once.
It was the closest West Ham came to scoring on home turf all afternoon and summed up the way the game had gone for them, it just wasn’t their day, as epitomised by the raising of the offside flag when they finally found the back of the net.
Arnautovic combined excellently with returning substitute Javier Hernandez to slip the latter through and slide the ball past Lloris, there was only one issue with this moment of brilliance, the fact that the final pass was offside, to the disappointment of those Hammers who hadn’t seen the offside flag until some time after the goal.
Arnautovic Unlucky Not To Save Point
While the goal that was ruled out for offside was in the 85th-minute, there was still time for one last golden opportunity for the home team to salvage something, our final Massive Moment. It was one that followed the trend of home disappointment.
It had already been a highly-frustrating afternoon for the talisman of West Ham, top-scorer, star player and fan favourite Arnautovic before this moment, for he had already been denied by Lloris twice.
Both instances were in the opening part of the second half, a good spell for the boys in Claret & Blue, the first being a header that was somehow tipped over the crossbar by the France captain and the second, a low long-range effort that the World Cup winner managed to push around the post.
A common theme of the final ten or so minutes was the impressive link-up play enjoyed by the Austria International and super sub Chicharito, who had already connected for the offside goal and they were about to do so once again.
Another one-two, this time playing Arnautovic beyond the defenders and one-on-one with Lloris, got London Stadium on its feet and the 29-year-old did everything he could. He was able to lift the ball slightly under immense pressure, but the ‘keeper just got something in the way and the ball was cleared. It was the second game in succession that the No7 had been left to rue spurning a late chance to level things up.
So, now that we have well and truly analysed all the unmissable Massive Moments from an afternoon to forget for everyone associated with West Ham in East London, will we be reflecting on more positive Massive moments come this time next week, after the Hammers have visited the King Power Stadium in the league? Join us once again, then, to find out.