Well here we are again. This tortuous season just gets worse. A third loss to West Ham, another comprehensive beating from the “tactical genius” that is Sam Allardyce. We’ve pretty much saved his side from relegation. They must wish they could play us every week.
There were some small crumbs of comfort – it wasn’t quite as bad as at White Hart Lane. On that occasion we let in three at home against a side without a striker. Here we had the excuse of losing a man early on, another defensive catastrophe. Rose got in a mess trying to play offside and let Downing through on goal. The West Ham midfielder cut across Kaboul who stumbled into him. Last man, he had to go and Spurs were on the back foot.
It wasn’t long before West Ham capitalised. From the resulting free-kick, Carroll’s powerful drive was turned behind by Lloris. Noble took the corner, Carroll won the header, the ball deflecting off the unfortunate Harry Kane and wrong-footing the goalkeeper. One nil and Spurs were rocking.
Every time the home side put the ball into the Spurs penalty area they caused problems. Carroll was dominating in the air. Downing was made to look like Ronaldo, as he cut through the Tottenham rearguard and supplied a succession of dangerous crosses. This was always going to be Allardyce’s main strategy, yet it didn’t look like Sherwood had formulated a plan to stop it. In fact, he played Rose, our weakest defender, and Eriksen, who was never going to provide him much cover, on Downing’s side.
It was the West Ham winger who made it two, scoring his first goal for the Hammers from another free-kick – the Tottenham wall parting to let a pretty ordinary shot through, leaving Lloris with no chance. Paulinho and Adebayor looked accusingly at each other but both were culpable. Another display of the lack of organisation and heart that has characterised this Spurs team. When it’s one or two errors from one or two players it’s unfortunate. When there are so many spread across the team, it smacks of a systematic problem.
As well as winning the aerial battle, the home side outfought and out-muscled a weak Tottenham. Hugo Lloris has become used to being left isolated and unprotected and as in previous games, the goalkeeper distinguished himself. He seemed to be playing all positions in our defence on his own, coming out to punch away crosses, rushing from goal to play sweeper, clearing the ball from the six yard box and making a string of fantastic saves. He must wonder what he’s got himself into, this can’t be what he signed up for. It’s a credit to him, that his attitude is still first rate. He’s definitely my pick for our player of the season and I hope Sherwood is smart enough to realise that he owes much of his impressive points haul to the French keeper.
Somehow the score stayed at 2-0. A largely anonymous Paulinho was replaced by social media celebrity Sandro. Within minutes of coming on, the big Brazilian seemed to be suffering – his ommision appears to be a decision Sherwood got right. Soldado, a late substitute, pulled another disappointing shot wide when Eriksen fed him the ball in the penalty box. Strong Spurs shouts for a penalty were waved away by the referee for a fairly obvious handball but a goal would have flattered the visitors.
This was a third loss to West Ham this season, in addition to three losses to our neighbours, Arsenal and a 4-0 thrashing against Chelsea. Results against our fiercest rivals have been atrocious. In modern football, where “getting the three points” and fourth place are supposedly all that counts, it’s worth remembering that these things matter.
Sam Allardyce basked in the victory. This was West Ham’s final home game of the season and the the points mathematically sealed their Premier League future for another year. The tone of Sherwood’s post match press conference suggests he knows he only has one game left in charge. It’s losses like this that expose the reality behind his record-breaking statistics but the players must also shoulder a large part of the blame for this chastening defeat.
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