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Premier League
Saturday, 27th April 2019

Tottenham Hotspur 0
West Ham United 1

by Chris Wilkerson


What do you say, really? West Ham United went and did it again.

In the formality of match reports, events are described, matches are analysed and ratings are given.

Today was an example of West Ham just doing one of those things West Ham go and do. One away point in 2019 means nothing to a West Ham side that could ruin a day for Spurs.

Is it unique to this club? Frankly, who cares? Every West Ham fan reading this will know what it means. Drifting from the top ten to the bottom half, Manuel Pellegrini’s men turned up at the imaginatively named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and outplayed their hosts, scoring the first away goal and becoming the first away team to take anything away from their shiny new ground.

Embed from Getty Images


And it needs to be remembered that this was a deserved and fair result. The echoes of that win at the Emirates will be there, similarities drawn, but this wasn’t desperate and at the hands of a superhuman goalkeeper.

West Ham had the better of the chances, presented very little chances of note to Spurs and never looked afraid to push forward even when backs to the wall might have seemed much easier.

Tottenham had the better of the first half, but with Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop and Masuaku at the back, West Ham came out with a brave high line and no intent to show any fear of their opponents.

It felt a risk early on, with Alli, Son and Moura finding pockets of space between the lines one moment, then getting in behind the next. Equally, they wasted half chances and Fabianski was not challenged by what was produced.

At the same time, Pellegrini’s men were showing their own intent. Rice, Fredericks and Antonio all had openings to threaten Hugo Lloris’ goal.

The best moment of the half came from the feet of Felipe Anderson. Laying off a dropping ball to Snodgrass with one touch and then darting forward from his own half, he received it first time from the Scotsman and then drove towards the area.

Two men waited in the middle, but Anderson chose to take it on himself. Whether it was the right call or not was answered with an extremely tame effort that the Spurs ‘keeper would have seen as little more than a pass.

There were tackles, interceptions and interventions everywhere you looked, with Mark Noble playing at his absolute best and Issa Diop slipping back into the defence and immediately finding top form.

And it all looked like the run of bad luck would continue when another fine interception from Diop ricocheted back into the area and found Christian Eriksen unmarked and onside. Six yards out, Eriksen went for power, Fabianski went flying at him and the Polish stopper came out on top.

It was a half with 15 shots (their eight to our seven) and a corner each. We had them uncomfortable and we looked unfazed by the best cheeses North London could offer for the rich and famous in the stands. Noble and the dynamic full backs had had the most touches for the Hammers, and our desire to keep throwing them forward in wide areas was worrying Spurs.

It was something for West Ham to build on as they came back from the half-time break.

With encouragement from a decent first 45, it was the away side who came out stronger. Arnautovic looked awake, and finally started to influence the game. His running into the channels was leaving space centrally, which Antonio often exploited, and also set up a decent half chance for Fredericks that was blocked wide.

It is also worth noting Mark Noble sending Christian Eriksen to Hull and back with a Cruyff turn that felt delicious to watch.

Maybe it was this early pressure that reduced Tottenham to weak-legged layabouts, although it equally may have been Dele Alli getting away without a booking for a blatant dive in the first half.

Either way, the Spurs players and fans cried desperately for a penalty as Son turned in the box and felt contact with Masuaku’s hands. It was just as Tottenham looked to come back into the game that Michail Antonio came to the fore.

Antonio has looked desperate to drag this West Ham team back into form since terrifying the Manchester United defence two weeks ago.

Today, whether it was working or not, he was always involved.

Antonio was notably causing Spurs problems, but with his usual inefficiency. A 45% pass accuracy in the first half is the kind of stat that may well be why Manuel Pellegrini took a long time to trust the winger, but he too has come around to the indefinable effectiveness that Michail has.

At times he was baffling, and it can be hard to attribute his success down to any specific talent. He is direct, he is strong, he is fast, but he can use all of those assets to blaze left-footed swingers harmlessly into the crowd or dribble forward without any idea of what his feet might do if they were to touch the ball.

Whatever it was, the Spurs defence didn’t like it. It was no surprise that Antonio became the first opposition player to score on the Tottenham Hotspur Experience Tour.

The move itself was worthy of winning the game. The centre of midfield became Rice’s plaything as he strode forward, unchecked by any opponent. He fed it out right to Arnuatovic, and the Austrian reminded us all of the talent he has.

A beautiful clipped ball from the right was placed perfectly onto Antonio’s chest as he galloped once more into the area. What came next was one bounce into his stride and a blasted half volley from inside the area that left Hugo Lloris with no chance.

As he rode the donkey away from the Tottenham goal, thousands of travelling fans lost their minds. Something so very West Ham was happening (again).

From there, and throughout the second half, Pellegrini’s men put barely a foot wrong. The high line had worked again and again, Ryan Fredericks was making exceptional tackles, including one in the area when Ben Davies must have thought he was certain to score.

Mark Noble continued to control the ball in midfield, whilst Antonio, Anderson and Arnautovic were always ready to pounce on any counter attacking chance, supported ably by Masuaku and Fredericks.

There were chances to put the game to bed too, Antonio stopped well by Lloris, Arnautovic showing more signs of life and an incredible 70 yard run from Issa Diop that looked like a giraffe’s imitation of Ravel Morrison’s goal from many years back.

Tottenham, on the other hand, created nothing.

Obiang replaced Snodgrass, Perez replaced the injured Arnautovic and Angelo Ogbonna came on to add his aerial presence at the back for the wonderful Noble, but Tottenham’s sustained pressure was often just from their inability to find a useful decisive pass.

As Antonio again threatened, stopped before pulling the trigger in the penalty area, it was set up for a kick in the teeth. And it nearly came.

With seconds remaining, Juan Foyth burst forward from right back and into the area. His cross was perfect, finding Janssen at the back post.

His header had Fabianski beaten, but Fabian Balbuena found a place in every West Ham heart as he smashed the ball away on the line and said goodbye to Tottenham’s unbeaten record in the Tottenham “Tottenham Hotspur” Hotspur Arenadome.

But it is not the moments that won this game. The performance, intent, defending, confidence on the ball and Captain Fantastic in the middle made it a comfortable win for West Ham.

Stuck still in 11th, league table position mattered little, although noted injustices of recent weeks are very apparent with our five point gap to 7th.

Instead, it was an away victory worth the other miseries of the recent months. A performance that warranted the glee, reeling us all back in with those dreams of potential and possibilities.

It’s happened again.


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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Made one very good save from Sterling, but everything else was relatively tame.


Ryan Fredericks
Looking like a Premier League player now the rest of the defence is settled too. 8 clearances, 2 interceptions, 2 tackles, 1 shot blocked.


Ben Johnson
Could you have more daunting a full Premier League debut? Yet he was only real beaten once, Sterling’s fresh legs and burst of pace getting beyond him, and he stood up to Mahrez. Mahrez was poor and subbed, Johnson should take a lot of pride in that.


Issa Diop
Strong presence, another game against nippy, skillful players where he looks great.


Angelo Ogbonna
One of his best games as a West Ham player. 6 interceptions, 4 clearances, 2 blocked shots - as close to imperious as he’s ever been, especially in a back four. The General may have to wait.


Declan Rice
Not a glittering performance in the Rice repertoire, although one moment where he stepped forward, intercepted a pass then sprayed a ball wide to Anderson without a moment’s hesitation was glorious. Forward passing is improving.


Pedro Obiang
Fought well, struggled when City really turned it on,.Tackled well in the middle.


Felipe Anderson
The penalty was soft (to put it mildly) but Anderson drifted out of the game anyway.


Samir Nasri
A good 45 minutes to get into his legs for a comeback, but no impact on the game and made only 9 passes.


Michail Antonio
Stuck to his task, worked hard, one little moment to combine with Lanzini, but otherwise a hard game.


Andy Carroll
Not really ever going to be a Carroll type of game. Did well to get good contact on a bouncing and powerful cross by Lanzini which tested Ederson, but otherwise peripheral at best. Just over 50% pass success rate.


Substitutes


Manuel Lanzini
(Replaced Nasri) Looked the only real threat going forward, another promising performance and good that he got 45 minutes. Could see him close to starting at the weekend. Created the only chance.


Pablo Zabaleta
(Replaced Johnson) Did nothing wrong, had very little else to do, great ovation for him across the ground.


Grady Diangana
(Replaced Arnautovic) Did fine in his limited time, still keeps the ball very well.


Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Did not play.


Mark Noble
Did not play.


Robert Snodgrass
Did not play.


Javier Hernandez
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: .

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks.

West Ham United

Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Pedro Obiang, Felipe Anderson, Samir Nasri, Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll.

Goals: None.

Booked: Ryan Fredericks  Michail Antonio         .

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur

.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent Off: .

 
Chris Wilkerson's Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks


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