Tottenham's title dream fatally damaged at West Ham

Tottenham’s title dream fatally damaged at West Ham

Tottenham’s title dream fatally damaged at West Ham

There was little warning about what was to come. Tottenham arrived at the London Stadium with a nine-match winning run in the Premier League, having confidently beaten Arsenal in their last outing, while West Ham had only been victorious in one of their previous 11 games.

Slaven Bilic’s side also had the fifth-worst home record in the top flight, with more losses than triumphs. Yet Spurs slumped to a 1-0 defeat after Manuel Lanzini’s 65th-minute strike — a repeat of last season’s scoreline at Upton Park that in part derailed Spurs’ title challenge.

The race to catch Chelsea is surely over after this hammer blow. Indeed, the Blues can win the crown by beating Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion before Tottenham even take to the field again, against Manchester United next Sunday.

Barring a dramatic collapse from the league leaders, Mauricio Pochettino and his players are left to prepare for next weekend’s emotional farewell to White Hart Lane.

The defeat could have been heavier than the 1-0 scoreline. No-one got injured. Spurs will probably still finish second. That’s about it.

Tottenham have sustained a brave pursuit of Chelsea, but it is nonetheless hugely disappointing that they missed this opportunity to close the gap to a single point, increase the pressure and test Chelsea’s mettle until the end. The fact that the fatal blow — or so it seems — has come against London rivals West Ham, who have had little else to celebrate this season, makes it that much worse.

Manager rating out of 10
4 — The Spurs boss left the influential Mousa Dembele on the bench and, although his team were clearly missing the Belgian’s poise and control, he waited until they were losing before introducing him. Pochettino’s decision to stick with Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier was justifiable following their performances in the North London derby, but the pairing did not work tonight and he was desperately slow to react.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris, 8 — Tottenham’s best player, which tells its own story. The captain rushed from his goal to challenge Lanzini in the first half and then made a fine save to deny Jonathan Calleri and keep the score to 1-0 in the second period. He was powerless to stop the goal itself, which was forced home at close range.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 — West Ham repeatedly got in behind the right-back, but he is required to push forward in Spurs’ system and he played three of Spurs’ most incisive passes of the match, twice freeing Christian Eriksen and also playing Son Heung-Min in behind the defence.

DF Toby Alderweireld, 5 — Looked unusually vulnerable, missing his tackle on Aaron Cresswell in the build-up to West Ham’s goal and then losing the ball inside his own box, forcing Lloris to save his blushes by denying Calleri.

DF Jan Vertonghen, 5 — Similarly lacked his usual composure and failed to win the ball on the six-yard line when the Hammers scored. A lack of midfield protection did not help, but he was the player to make way when Dembele was introduced just after Spurs fell behind.

DF Ben Davies, 5 — Played a few neat passes around the Hammers box but was otherwise ineffective going forward and was partly at fault for the goal as Cresswell’s cross dropped over him at the far post.

MF Victor Wanyama, 5 — Usually snuffs out attacks before they really gather momentum, but West Ham got plenty of opportunities to run at Spurs’ centre-backs. He needed a more creative presence alongside him too.

MF Eric Dier, 5 — Got stuck in but failed to provide the necessary conduit between defence and the final third in possession. On one occasion he carelessly prodded a pass to Cheikhou Kouyate on the outskirts of his own penalty box.

MF Christian Eriksen, 5 — Well below his usual standards and Tottenham suffered as a result. When he did get into good positions his final ball was poor.

MF Dele Alli, 4 — Offered little, finding space hard to come by.

MF Son Heung-Min, 6 — Had a close-range shot blocked in the first half and drew a low save from Adrian in the second period but was not at his best.

FW Harry Kane, 5 — Looked bright early on and was denied twice in quick succession by Adrian but was otherwise kept uncharacteristically quiet.

MF Mousa Dembele, 6 — The Belgium international, who finally appeared in the 67th minute, was needed much earlier and was unable to turn the game around as West Ham dropped deep to protect their lead.

MF Vincent Janssen, N/A — Replaced Wanyama with 17 minutes left but could not make a telling impact.

DF Kieran Trippier, N/A — Came on for the final 10 minutes in place of Walker but, when he got the chance to deliver his crosses, was faced with a packed penalty box.


SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (sport)

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