Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur 2 West Ham United 0

Monday, 28th December 2009
by Staff Writer

A battling second half display by West Ham United wasn't enough to prevent a fifth successive defeat against near neighbours Tottenham at White Hart Lane this afternoon.

The Irons, already lacking key personnel as a result of an horrific injury list lost both Herita Ilunga and Scott Parker, widely considered to be the front-runner for Hammer of the Year so far, withinn the opening 20 minutes.

From thereon in it was mostly a backs-to-the-wall effort by Zola's understrength side and with more accurate finishing the winning margin could have been even greater - although West Ham did create chances at 0-1 to level the game, before Jermain Defoe confirmed the win with a late second goal for the home side.

Spurs, looking to sneak back into the top four - albeit temporarily - started the stronger and got the perfect start when Luca Modric, making his first start following a three-month lay-off mishit a shot that looped over Rob Green just 11 minutes in.

Aaron Lennon, whose goal won the corresponding fixture at the Boleyn back in August burst down the right flank before centreing a low cross that eventually found its way to the Croation midfielder on the edge of the six yard box. Modric's effort appeared to come off the bottom of his shin but the contact was still enough to take it over Green, who was diving low to his right instead.

Tottenham had a number of chances to extend their lead before the break but the Irons stood strong. The longer the game went on in the second half the more evident the frustration of the home support became and it was at this time that Zola's side enjoyed their best spell of play.

As Spurs began to sit deeper and deeper - much to the chagrin of their expectant followers inside White Hart Lane - West Ham created a number of chances to draw level, although in truth, Spurs 'keeper Gomes was rarely stretched. The introduction of Junior Stanislas late on gave United added impetus but they failed to make the crucial breakthrough.

It was during one such foray deep into Spurs territory that the second goal came. West Ham lost possession on the edge of the Tottenham box and were hit on the counter by the pace of Lennon and Defoe. The England striker, in such good form this season stung Rob Green's hands with his first effort before firing the rebound beyond his national team mate to make it 2-0 - much to the relief of a nervous home crowd.

All in all, not much was expected from West Ham in this one - and they duly failed to surprise. But they should take heart from a battling second half display during which they were not too far away from snatching a point, until Defoe ended the game as a contest eight minutes from time.

Next week it's Arsenal in the Cup before the real hard work starts, with games against Wolves (h), Portsmouth (a), Blackburn (h), Burnley (a), Birmingham (h) and Hull (h) all before the end of February.

Zola, already without the likes of Ilunga, Gabbidon, Parker, Noble, Cole and Hines will be praying that no more ill-fortune befalls his paper thin squad. Did someone mention the January transfer window?

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Comments to follow.

Julien Faubert
Comments to follow.

Herita Ilunga
Comments to follow.

James Tomkins
Comments to follow.

Matthew Upson
Comments to follow.

Scott Parker
Comments to follow.

Radoslav Kovac
Comments to follow.

Valon Behrami
Comments to follow.

Jack Collison
Comments to follow.

Alessandro Diamanti
Comments to follow.

Guillermo Franco
Comments to follow.


Luis Jimenez
(Replaced Parker, 12 minutes) Comments to follow.

Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Ilunga, 19 minutes) Comments to follow.

Junior Stanislas
(Replaced Collison, 79 minutes) Comments to follow.

Marek Stech
Did not play.

Manuel Da Costa
Did not play.

Josh Payne
Did not play.

Frank Nouble
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Herita Ilunga, James Tomkins, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Radoslav Kovac, Valon Behrami, Jack Collison, Alessandro Diamanti, Guillermo Franco.

Goals: None                   .

Booked: Guillermo Franco 63 Alessandro Diamanti 66 Radoslav Kovac 72      .

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto (Bale 88), Modric (Kranjcar, 83), Palacios, Huddlestone, Lennon (Jenas 89), Crouch, Defoe.

Subs not used: Alnwick, Hutton, Bassong, Keane.

Goals: Modric (11), Defoe (82).

Booked: Corluka (67), Defoe (83).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Chris Foy.

Attendance: 35,994.

Man of the Match: tbc.