Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur  1-2 West Ham United 

Tuesday, 5th December 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

The September Premier League champions were humbled by their east London betters this Thursday evening after The Hammers came from 1-0 down to make it happen again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Second-half goals from Jarrod Bowen and James Ward-Prowse gave David Moyes's side a 2-1 win that couldn't have seemed less likely after the opening 45 minutes.

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Tottenham started like a rocket, swarming West Ham and forcing them deep into defence. By the time Romero opened the scoring in the 11th minute, the home side were sitting on 92% possession. But they failed to capitalise on their dominance and West Ham's sluggishness, giving Moyes's Irons the chance to dig in, make it to the break and regather in the dressing room.

And that is exactly what they did, coming it with new ideas and fresh energy, with nearly every player in claret and blue improving, many improving greatly, in the second half. For the manager, he earned his first away win in the league as Hammers boss against one of the standard top six sides, although it's hard to say that Tottenham really compare to the others in that group.

Moyes made two changes from the weekend's tame draw with Crystal Palace, captain Kurt Zouma returning in place of Konstantonos Mavropanos. Meanwhile a wrist injury sustained in training during the week forced Alphonse Areola out of the starting line-up, with Lukasz Fabianski returning to start once more in the Premier League.

The manager also tweaked his attack, choosing Mohammed Kudus to lead the line, as Bowen moved back to the right wing. Not that it was so easy to notice as Tottenham forced their visitors back deep to defend in and around the penalty area.

It is hard to truly sell just how much the home side dominated the early stages. West Ham just couldn't keep the ball and struggled to keep up with the pace of play from everyone's least favourite north Londoners. The relentless waves of pressure and attack were nearly without any break, such was how they regained possession and quickly went about driving at the West Ham defence again and again.

They were nearly in on goal inside a minute as Son poked a ball through the defence and into the area, but Fabianski showed no signs of rust as he burst off his line to beat Kukusevski to the ball.

Back and forth, side to side, Tottenham probed with little resistance, searching for the gap, finding West Ham could present a wall on the edge of their box, but barely anything else.

It was interesting to see the West Ham midfield adapt, with Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez both enjoting their first appearances in this feisty London derby. Being forced as deep as they were does not suit Ward-Prowse, whilst Alvarez showed habits from former days as he burst out to chase the ball with little success, as he instead left gaps to exploit behind as he chased fruitlessly.

It was frantic in the West Ham half and barely played outside of the final third, as The Hammers couldn't weather the storm. However, it was a real shock to see how they conceded.

A corner from the right curled out beyond the penalty spot, where Romero managed to have made his way into space between defenders. He rose above those around him, looping a header that sailed up and dropped down into the far corner with Fabianski scrambling helplessly across his line. It was just past the 10th minute, and it felt the kind of goal that signalled the opening of the floodgates.

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Dare it be said, but maybe past Tottenham teams would have, but those past Tottenham teams had Harry Kane, and after the early months of the season saw their fans asking whether they had improved without the England captain, they may reflect now on games like this where cutting edge and ruthless finishing are required to take advantage of such territorial dominance.

There were scant glimpses of life from The Hammers, a Kudus chance soon shown to be offside the first real hint of a threat, but Tottenham came roaring back for more. West Ham's inability to real form any periods of possession meant the home side were going to test the defence with regularity.

And whilst it didn't feel so at the time, the benefit of hindsight might well show that all their frantic attacking was not outside the realm of what West Ham are comfortable dealing with.

The shots and openings they had were all in that sphere that West Ham deal in when they're forced back. Johnson found an effort in the box quickly blocked by Coufal, Son hit right at Fabianski from the edge of the box, and later in the half both Lo Celso and Johnson did the same when presented with openings to shoot.

Any joy West Ham could get was found from the excellent work Kudus does when receiving the ball under pressure. His ability to handle contact and beat a men whether he's facing goal or away from it means the Ghanaian is a brilliant player to have when your team needs to relieve pressure. It was just that his role up front left him isolated if he didn't drop deep to find the ball, and dropping deep meant there was rarely anyone forward when he did.

But he does work hard, and he's robust. Not only can he ride tough challenges, he makes them himself and made an opening of his own when winning possession in the Tottenham half, only to hit a low shot weakly at Vicario. Still, that desire to shoot from those areas would come in handy eventually.

A worry for The Hammers was also found in the condition of Lucas Paqueta. The Brazilian has struggled to sparkle lately and was having a poor first half when he went down hurt with 10 minutes to play. If he'd picked up an injury, it was hard to tell as the physio covered both his legs in something akin to deep heat. Any old trick to get him putting a shift in.

The half ended with a flurry of chances. The aforementioned efforts from Lo Celso and Johnson had been warnings, but in a half that felt like it was all Tottenham, all the time, both sides will feel they could have scored just before the break.

First a chance for Bissouma after Fabianski had dived out to punch away a chipped pass into the box, which was worked back to Bissouma, only for the midfielder to smash over.

Then West Ham had their moment; Kudus bullying and belittling Ben Davies with the ease he knocked him off the ball, before dinking the perfect cross over the heads in the middle to Paqueta at the far post. The Brazilian was unmarked, a few yards wide of the post, but his header down was comfortably wide. He should have sent it across goal, but tried to nod in at his near post, and executed that poorly.

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As it looked the first half would end 1-0, Tottenham came as close as they had since their goal, but from the boot of Kurt Zouma. After Spurs worked the ball wide, Lo Celso found space in the box to guide a pass in that channel between the goalkeeper and defence. Zouma slid to cut the pass out, his boot catching the ball and sending it at the West Ham goal. It was a relief to see it smack the outside of the post.

And so came half-time, with West Ham happy to take their one-goal deficit. It felt like a small miracle to be keeping it at that, and the manager had a job on his hands. Not to get more, many were playing within themselves, but to provoke the changes, tactically or mentally, that could see The Hammers lay a glove on their rivals.

They had all worked hard, but it was only Kudus and Emerson - again excellent here - who could really be happy with what they'd shown on the ball.

West Ham's record in the period after half-time has been less than encouraging, but the change in their efforts was instantly stark. The energy was there, the intent was clearly changed. So, too, was the striker, with Kudus and Bowen swapping. It quickly proved a very good change.

Just gone 50 minutes a long ball was sent up the left wing and Bowen was able to win it and move inside. He spread wide to Kudus, who cut in off right and looked up at goal, 25 yards out. As shown earlier, he'll take a shot on if given the room and he did it once more, smashing a low shot at goal with his stronger left.

It was a real example of how you can't win if you don't buy a ticket. The shot was blocked by a Tottenham defender just inside the box, but only as far as his team mate's heels, cannoning off the man in front of him and ricocheting back into the area.

And how is your luck? It bounced right into the path of Bowen, who had carried on his run into the area. Rolling right in front of him from 10 yards out, Bowen finished emphatically, hitting hard and high into the top corner with his right foot to leave Vicario with no chance and West Ham with an equaliser.

That's now seven goals in seven away games for Bowen this season, seven in eight away games overall, including the Burnley game he was injured for. It also makes him the first West Ham player to score in seven away games in a Premier League season. It will be a shock if the forward doesn't overtake Antonio as West Ham's leading Premier League goalscorer.

Now it was competitive. West Ham weren't just a sporadic threat but an equal one and the game now looked like a contest between two sides separated by six points at the start of play. It wasn't full of chances, but it was no longer a waiting game for Spurs to score.

The home side desperately chased to restore their lead, but the West Ham players were now thriving. A collection of relatively average first-half performances was replaced by a team in which every individual was doing their part and had raised their game.

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The last 20 minutes was thrilling, real Premier League football. Tottenham became more and more desperate, and it felt like this is where the team differed. West Ham played the game in front of them, Tottenham seemed almost panicked at not leading.

They should have been, Richarlison the most guilty after a huge chance came for the substitute mere moments after his introduction. The Brazilian has yet to score for Spurs with his feet, but it was his head that met Porro's cross from the right. Free of his marker, Richarlison tried to cushion it down into the corner, but sent it wide with the goal gaping.

And then, with 15 minutes to go, they really went and Spursed it.

Under no real pressure, Udogie played a simple pass back to his goalkeeper, rolling it back about 30 yards from the goal. Had he looked, he might have seen Bowen lurking on the shoulder of the last defender. The pass was between goalkeeper and striker, and whilst Vicario did well to beat Bowen to the ball, his straight lunge forward saw him push it out to the edge of his box.

Bowen, smartly, leapt over him and turned to see Ward-Prowse, not any Tottenham defender, following in and collecting the ball. On his left, Ward-Prowse shot as Vicario rushed towards him. It beat the ?EUR~keeper, but cannoned off the post.

If you believe in making your own luck, Ward-Prowse had. The ball bounced back straight to him and as Bowen scurried to move clear, the midfielder collected his own rebound and passed it into the goal Bowen was vacating. It was West Ham 2, Tottenham 1.

Tottenham piled on the pressure, but created little to show for it. It might not feel this way, but Moyes's West Ham are good in these situations and they basically suffocated the space that their opponents had to play in.

Their time ran out, and from title winners in September, Ange's side are now the first team to fail to win five consecutive games despite going 1-0 up in each match, and the first to lose three consecutive home games despite going up 1-0 up in each match.

West Ham, on the other hand, moved within three points of their rivals. With 24 points from 15 league games, they're also on their highest ever total after this many matches in the season.

Thursday nights are alright.

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Manager's Rating

David Moyes: 8/10 It would be harsh to lay the first half at his door, but his half-time impact was clearly incredible. All the more impressive because he didn't make sweeping or drastic changes, just tweaks, and tweaks that made a huge difference. One of his better showings of in-game management.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Sharp on a few things, although some have questioned him on the goal.

Vladimir Coufal
He's an incredible workhorse down the flank, managing to be an excellent defensive right back whilst always offering support to his winger. Handled the pace on his side well, making Johnson a non-entity in the game.

Emerson Palmieri
Exceptional ability to dribble out of trouble. Given how West Ham struggled to keep any possession in the first half, his ability to carry relieved pressure and showed they could play through Spurs.

Kurt Zouma
The centre backs will be the most annoyed about that goal. They won't like an opponent winning a header so cleanly there. But the pair both reacted well and kept Spurs at bay.

Nayef Aguerd
His recent improvement maybe just shows that old adage about the temporary nature of form. He's looked more assured and his pace is an asset back there.

Edson Alvarez
Early stages, he seemed too eager to go chase the ball. But he was strong both on the ground and in the air. He's proving himself a key member of this team.

James Ward-Prowse
Seemed to be moved further forward in the second half. He's not a low-block midfielder, but he is a tireless workhorse who covers the yards and presses well. And he's shown on numerous occasions now for this club that he has a knack for joining attacks and picking up goals.

Tomas Soucek
A defensive wall. Where Ward-Prowse might not be made for games like this, Soucek is. This is where you want him deep in the midfield, and these are games you really can't question him starting. He's like a spare centre back and protects the defence brilliantly.

Mohamed Kudus
Was the only real spark in the first half and made a difference with his running and strength. He's got an eye for goal, which sets him apart from the other wide options in the team, and his intent creates things.

Lucas Paqueta
A poor first half, where he looked lost and disinterested, became a much better second half. He's a very good defender when he's put to the task.

Jarrod Bowen
Did the work on the right wing and then made a huge difference when central. He doesn't always get in games enough as a striker, but it worked in a game like this where he wasn't expected to dominate. Really good on both goals.


Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Kudus, 88) Too late to really have an impact.

Joseph Anang

Thilo Kehrer
Did not play.

Aaron Cresswell
Did not play.

Konstantinos Mavropanos
Did not play.

Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.

Said Benrahma
Did not play.

Danny Ings
Did not play.

Divin Mubama
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Emerson Palmieri, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, Edson Alvarez, James Ward-Prowse, Tomas Soucek, Mohamed Kudus, Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen.

Goals: Jarrod Bowen 52 James Ward-Prowse 74                .

Booked: Emerson Palmieri 0 James Ward-Prowse 0 Edson Alvarez 0      .

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur : Vicario, Porro, Romero, Davies, Udogie, Hojbjerg (Richarlison 67), Bissouma (Sarr 84), Lo Celso (Skipp 67), Johnson (Gil 84), Kulusevski, Son (Veliz 88).

Subs not used: Forster, Royal, Donley, Dorrington .

Goals: Romero (11).

Booked: Porro, Romero.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Michael Salisbury.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Jarrod Bowen.