…at the Lane.
I just didn’t think it was going to quite happen this way, as Spurs carried on as they left off playing wise in Europe, with an awful display.
Everything posted about Thursdays Europa League game could be reposted here. The only changes would be noting Spurs didn’t score while that vaunted defensive record disappeared as the opposition racked up three. But everything Spurs did wrong midweek was matched on Sunday against West Ham and more.
Slowly complacent, methodically tedious and lazily inept. Spurs didn’t pick one set but went the whole hog in another lifeless display that verged on the clueless. Yes it’s West Ham, yes they’re managed by Sam Allardyce, yes Stuart Downing was playing so yes they are beneath you but when you go out with that attitude it levels the playing field.
Usually in these games the visitors come out with the flat back 10 and Spurs batter them with chance after chance – most of which aren’t scored. This time with Allardyce playing a 6 man midfield with a false 9 the first part of the scenario was guaranteed, with the way Spurs went about things the latter part wasn’t going to happen.
Passing about at the back before eventually bringing pressure then passing back to Lloris for him to hammer it up the park to lose possession is not a winning formula. Just ask the England manager.
Just no urgency, no pace applied – even though there was pace out there – and Jaaskelainen had so little, if anything, to do in the first half after nearly having Defoe block an early clearance. Ah yes Defoe.
What more does he have to do? Ring out the cries. Well score in games like this would help. Given Spurs’ best two chances what did he do? Ah, yes, that’s right he did what he does best. No, no, not what you’re told by the English that he does best, not score but hit the ‘keeper.
A glorious chance moments into the second half, nice play by Eriksen, not a great ball to Paulinho but he found Defoe perfectly in the box and the striker hammers it at the committed ‘keeper. That’s the typical Defoe, well no quite the typical Defoe would probably have been offside to begin with. Thought he’d learned, in an earlier Europa tie he dinked over the ‘keeper, as he should have done here.
Later on he had a shot from pretty much the centre of the edge of the box and again hammered it straight at the ‘keeper, who just had to put his hands up to block it over the bar. Of course the commentator just goes on and on and on about hard Defoe hit it, as if that means anything other than to so his lack of a second trick.
No surprise what West Ham offered in attack came from set pieces. While Spurs had a decent chance from an Eriksen free kick that someone should have just made more of an effort to get on the end of. The visitors had one nice move from a free-kick just go wide in the first half, second half they went back to basics and just lumped it into the box while trying to disrupt. Lloris blocked off by Nolan, Vertonghen jumps too early, while being pushed in the back, and no one reacts when Reid’s header rebounds off Nolan back to the defender.
All just a bit too predictable.
If Defoe scores that early one it creates openings if West Ham don’t want to go away with a loss. But after this it didn’t really look as if the Spurs’ players were bothered if they left with a win. Harried in midfield a combination of Paulinho and Townsend lost the ball too easily in the middle of the park and Vaz Te was through, Lloris did a decent job blocking the shot but again a rebound and it’s two.
There was nothing in response. AVB again left changes until it was too late. It was screaming out for Holtby to bring some life to proceedings. All those that have been screaming for Defoe to start of course fail to mention that it’s Holtby that’s pretty much created all his chances in those games.
Eriksen was getting nothing out of the game, Gylfi even less. Paulinho not much and with Dembele it was all too side to side. It’s not like there wasn’t candidates out there to be replaced. Naughton eventually came off for Holtby with less than 10 minutes to go. By which time Morrison had made it three and there was little point in AVB doing anything so positive.
Again easily given away possession, Vertonghen and Dembele struggle to close down Morrison and I don’t know what Dawson was doing. Doing his best to make sure there wasn’t a card shown in the game by the looks of things.
Hopefully it’s the wake up call that is needed. They had no excuse with regard tiredness with the Europa games as most didn’t start in that. They can’t just run out there and win and the boss has to put more thought into the way he sets things up. If you’re gonna play a right footer who comes inside on the right you can’t play Naughton at fullback. The defender has to provide the width and Naughton is not up to the job. And width is what is required when teams just clog up the centre of the park and defend deep. Width, fast pace, one-twos and movement forward not just side to side and back. Allardyce said he knew what Spurs would do and they went and did it, being out-thought by by the root one king is an embarrassment for AVB. Defoe can’t start while Holtby has to be given a chance.