West Ham haven't won in five Premier league games ? Well, what did
you expect when they met Spurs realistically ? Having
already lost to Wigan who had ten goals smacked past them in their first
two games, perhaps this result was a bit of a foregone conclusion and
losing 0-1 was not so unexpected after all.
Tottenham made ten changes form the side
that lost to Arsenal in the League Cup, while West Ham brought in a
couple of players they had rested. With players coming back from
injury too, it marked a return without match practice that might have
also added to the fluidity and some unfamiliarity for Tottenham.
West Ham started like a train and
dominated the opening twenty minutes of the match. While Spurs
managed to get a hold of the ball for a while and have some shots on
goal, the Tottenham goal was the one more under threat during this
spell. Corluka fitted in alongside Bassong as a centre half, while
Hutton and Bale were the full backs, giving an attacking bent to the
defence. Modric returned to partner van der Vaart, with
Huddlestone, Jenas and Lennon making up a five with just Crouch up
The tactic back-fired on Harry Redknapp
and it is perhaps time to go back to 4-4-2, as this might give the
opposition more problems. The ball keeps coming back towards our
goal when our moves break down or we try to find Crouch up front, it
just gets picked off. Victor Obinna hit a shot across goal, Rafael
responded with a free-kick that was deflected wide off the wall before
injury prone Kieron Dyer had three shots that failed to unduly trouble
Cudicini. The Nigerian striker Obinna had another go, this time
from distance, but Bassong's block made sure the ball had little chance
of beating the Spurs keeper by the time it got to him.
Just before the 15th minute, Jermaine
Jenas struck a rising shot that Robert Green managed to keep out with a
strong hand, as the ball seemed to be heading for the top corner and
then six minutes later, Luka spread the ball wide to Lennon, quickly
turning the ball just inside for van der Vaart to strike a shot that was
going in under the bar before Green dived to palm the ball out.
The Dutchman then hit a shot across the goal that missed the far post by
a yard as he ran to the edge of the box, but in the 29th minute, it all
went the other way.
One of many corners West Ham won in the
first half was crossed into the box by Noble and getting away from
Corluka, Piquionne managed to rise in the middle of the goal and head
the ball in at the far post, where Spurs failed to station a man to stop
such an event. A training ground routine that lead to a goal which
should have been worked on at other training grounds to stop.
Spurs were under the cosh and Lars
Jacobsen made an uncontested run into the right side of the Spurs box,
firing his shot wide, when one on target might have troubled Cudicini
and then Scott Parker burst down the left side of the penalty box, with
Corluka's sliding tackle doing enough to keep him from getting a shot on
Six minutes from half time, Tottenham
tried to hit back and it was Lennon who skipped away from two opponents
on the right to pull a cross back to the penalty area, where Modric
struck a bouncing ball well and it was going inside Green's right hand
post until he managed to get a touch on the ball and it bounced back off
the underside of the bar, hit the West Ham keeper on the back and then
went off for a corner before he could drag it back. Bale broke a
couple of minutes later, with a piercing run down the left and he found
the Dutch midfielder at the near post, where his header was blocked by
After Kieron Dyer had made his usual exit
from the game with an injury, Spurs had a few chances, with Crouch
having a shot blocked and putting a Hutton cross over the bar with his
head, then van der Vaart brought a block out of Noble to stop his shot,
while at the other end Obinna hastily shot across the face of goal.
At half-time, you hoped that Harry would
stir them up as he had done last week and while the attacking intent was
better in the second half, Spurs showed their old failing of not being
able to break teams down with sufficient guile to make very good
goal-scoring chances. Five minutes in, a Bale cross was
half-cleared by Da Costa and Hud was on it in a flash and struck a shot
that looked like it might test Green, but it hit Crouch on the back and
while the deflection confused the keeper, it only took it over the top.
Five minutes later, Huddlestone had an
even better opportunity, when Hutton waited to play him through and from
an onside position he got beyond the back line on the right hand side of
the area, took the ball past Green, but lost his bearings and thought he
had to shoot early, rushing it and putting it wide of the post on his
side of the goal. Crouch was free in the middle if Tom had taken a
quick look up.
Spurs were enjoying a period of
possession, but could not open up the ranks of the West Ham defence,
losing the width on both sides, when Lennon moved to the left to join
Bale. When West Ham did get up the other end, Upson rose highest
for a corner but couldn't keep his header down, while he was in action
at the other end as he got in the way of shots from JJ and Rafael.
65 minutes in, Carlo Cudicini had to be
sharp to dive to his right, when Obinna out-muscled Hutton and hit a low
shot that was going in at the foot of the post. Substitute Carlton
Cole had a shot go wide before Mark Noble took a cleared corner and
moved it to his right before hitting a shot that looked goal-bound,
until Cudicini dived up to touch the drive over the bar in the 74th
minute. Jenas played a one-two with Keane and the midfielder ran
into the left corner of the box, but hurried his shot, which fell
somewhere between a shot across goal and a cross in front of Crouch at
the far post a couple of minutes later.
Dos Santos came on for van der Vaart, but
his introduction failed to spark much of a revival. His World Cup
form seems to have deserted him and while a lot of Spurs fans want him
to do well, his lack of success might mean he will move on.
With Crouch coming off for Pavlyuchenko
to replace him, you hoped that there would be more link-up play.
Spurs did pick up a few free-kicks, but failed to make much of any of
them and it was only when Keane was played in with five minutes left
that anything like a clear chance presented itself. Unfortunately,
Robbie had to take it first time and unlike Tuesday night, this time,
his weak shot curled straight into Green's arms rather than through
Added time was run down by West Ham, as
they took the ball into the corner and won some free-kicks, which was
enough to maintain their 1-0 lead until the final whistle. Spurs
had huffed and puffed, with the Champions League game on Wednesday in
mind, were probably not playing at full tilt. The balance between
league points and Champions League progress has to be weighed up.
If we don't finish fourth again, then there won't be Champions League
Chopping and changing the side will have
a detrimental effect on the side until they get used to it. One of
the things that helped last season was having a core of players who
played regularly. The early exit from the League Cup might help in
the long run, but the lack of consistency in the league might come back
to bite Spurs too.