Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United bowed out of this season’s edition of the Carabao Cup at London Stadium last night, losing out 1-3 to Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur to extend their winless streak to four games in all competitions. Join us as we analyse Five Massive Moments from the feisty London derby.
Pellegrini’s Big Decision Fails To Pay Off
Our first Massive Moment came before a ball was even kicked in East London and involves the big selection decision made by Hammers boss Pellegrini, prior to kick-off on a bitter night.
The Chilean decided to ring the changes from Saturday evening’s league draw with Leicester City, albeit some of the alterations were forced by injuries or suspensions, but one of the key unforced changes came at the back.
Instead of picking the usual successful partnership of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena, he opted to give the latter a rest and give the fringe player this season, Angelo Ogbonna a run-out.
This was in spite of the fact Balbuena was coming off his best performance in Claret & Blue since arriving in the summer, at the King Power Stadium, while Ogbonna’s cameo in the same match had been a disastrous one, as the East Londoners conceded a late equaliser and he missed a last-minute chance to give his side the three points.
The decision failed to pay off as Ogbonna carried over that negativity by having a role to play in two of Spurs’ three goals, which we will touch on later, costing the team dearly. While putting League Cup-specialist, with four of his six goals in England coming in the competition, Ogbonna in and giving Balbuena some rest in a three-game week was always going to be tempting, you will always end up paying the price against an opponent like Tottenham.
Son Fires Spurs In Front Against Run Of Play
Our next Massive Moment and each one from here on out did take place during the 96 minutes of action at London Stadium and was perhaps the most important in terms of the complexion of the game as it changed its entire nature.
Inside the first 17 minutes, one felt that the hosts had enjoyed the better of the play, having more of the ball and not only creating more chances but the better quality of opportunity, too, despite the visitors having their moments in that period.
However, it would end in a very familiar story for the Irons, especially in the month of October, don’t take your chances, get punished, as many have argued the three losses and one draw in the last four matches have come down to missed opportunities.
This time, though, poor defending was to blame as well, with the Lilywhites breaking quickly on the Hammers with the returning Dele Alli looking to pick out Son Heung-min after stand-in captain Christian Eriksen’s long ball and Fernando Llorente’s lay off.
Alli’s flick on should never have got past Ogbonna, but it somehow did and from there, it was simple for the South Korean as he had much of the goal to aim at and only cup ‘keeper Adrian San-Miguel to beat. He smashed the ball excellently into the near top corner to punish the East Londoners.
Son Deals West Ham Crippling Blow After Break
After taking the lead, Spurs had mostly controlled the game and there was a general feeling that, in spite of the odd further chance to level things up at the opposite end for Pellegrini’s men, it was only a matter of time before that lead was doubled.
But the timing of it was what made the second strike so deadly, our third Massive Moment, with the goal coming a mere nine minutes after the start of the second half.
The goal was met by a great groan of frustration from the majority of the just-over-50-thousand fans inside London Stadium as it arrived against the run of play having watched their side improve with the replacement of Felipe Anderson with Robert Snodgrass at half-time.
The deadly Son would be the scorer once more on the night where he scored his first goals in any competition for Spurs since the Champions Cup in July, and the manner of the strike would have been the thing that frustrated Pellegrini the most.
Alli, with his second assist of the outing, drove a long ball forward and much like Ogbonna for the first, left-back Arthur Masuaku was unable to get in the way of it, allowing Son to get clean through on goal. He rounded Adrian and finished coolly into the half-empty net, a crippling blow and the fifth goal he’s been involved in during his last three matches against the Irons.
Super Sub Perez Gets Hammers Back In It
Unlike their reaction to the Lilywhites going ahead early on, the way West Ham responded to falling two behind with just over 30 minutes remaining when it would have been easy to just accept defeat, was a positive one, leading to our penultimate Massive Moment.
The introduction of talisman Marko Arnautovic, returning from the illness that kept him out at the weekend and his fellow striker and eventual goalscorer Lucas Perez certainly helped, giving the hosts a renewed sense of hope that they could still scrape through to the quarter-finals for the third year in succession.
After all, they did manage to beat Spurs at this stage of the competition last season with a squad lacking the quality of this one, away from home and also from two goals down, plus, with a manager just days away from losing his job in Slaven Bilic.
Although the reward for this resurgence wouldn’t come until the 71st-minute when two super subs combined and Perez claimed his second goal since arriving at London Stadium on Deadline Day from Arsenal, both of which have been in the League Cup.
It was the excellent far-post delivery of the Scottish International Snodgrass and the excellent positioning of his Spanish teammate that made it as he wheeled away in space and was presented with a chance he couldn’t miss. Perez nodded the delivery down and into the roof of the net and once VAR had checked the goal, it was game on.
Llorente Capitalises On Defensive Switch Off To Put Game To Bed
The next five minutes were when the visitors showed their true quality with a slightly weakened side as they responded wonderfully to West Ham pulling one back by going on a search for a third, culminating in our third Massive Moment.
Immediately after Perez’s goal, Spurs were the ones doing all the pressing and the statistic that the Hammers have spurned the most points from winning positions in the Premier League this season shows how vulnerable they are to conceding after scoring.
The Lilywhites would make light of this just 14 minutes from time, capitalising on a total switch off from a defence that was defending a set-piece frighteningly on Halloween night.
Seconds before the corner was delivered, the first of two pitch invaders on an evening of crowd disturbance in Stratford had entered the field and been apprehended, this clearly distracted the defenders. Though Pellegrini was in no mood to make excuses after the game.
From the corner delivery by Eriksen, Llorente, barely involved in the match all evening, was allowed to get goal-side of a half-asleep Ogbonna and converted from yards out, firing past Adrian, who had no chance and all but putting the game to bed. There would be no further score.
So, now that we’ve analysed the five primary Massive Moments from another match to forget at London Stadium for Pellegrini and his players, for the second home outing in a row, will we be analysing some less spooky Massive Moments come four days’ time, after Sean Dyche’s Burnley have paid London Stadium a PL visit? Join us once again, then, to find out.