Tottenham Hotspur did their job with a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham
Instead of individual player ratings for Tottenham, this week, we are going with some star categories for rating and ranking Spurs’ player performance from the West Ham victory. While some players – like Giovani Lo Celso – cemented their role in the squad, others – like Moussa Sissoko – left a little something to be desired. Those who performed at the higher levels should comfortably start the next match while others should be looking over their shoulder as their mate fights for their job. So how did the players do for Spurs in the London Derby victory over West Ham?
Five-Star Performing Spurs
In some matches there are no players with five-star ratings, in others there are multiple, this is one of the latter. Giovani Lo Celso and Eric Dier both performed at a five-star level, proving to be the two best players on the pitch for this match.
Giovani Lo Celso
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If it is possible to have a coming-out party without registering a goal, assist, or even a shot – this was it. Giovani Lo Celso bossed the pitch from the first minute to the last. Lo Celso’s first touches came from a ball dropped to his feet from the gloves of Hugo Lloris and ended moments later at the midfield circle.
Not since Mousa Dembele have Spurs had some drive so quickly upfield like that. With three successful take-ons and three key passes according to Whoscored.com, the Argentine was lively with the ball at his feet and looking for a big chance.
Some 119 touches – 21 more than any other player – Lo Celso was walking off a winner with only VAR denying him the assist he so deserved. If this position in the team comes down to Harry Wink and Gio Lo Celso, unfortunately for Winks and England it is going to be Lo Celso, but that is for another article.
In a performance even superior to the one against Manchester United, Eric Dier was exactly what a center-half should be against the Hammers. Dier attacked the ball in the air, winning nearly 10 aerial battles. Eric did an excellent job keeping a strong, fast, Michail Antonio in front of him the entire game. While Antonio had chances like any striker in any game, they are half-chances at best.
Add in 98 touches leading to 77 success passes on 85 attempts (85%) and suddenly the ball movement and distribution Spurs need is there. More importantly, was the pace with which Dier helped move the ball. For example, as the tweet below shows, Dier attacked the ball coming into the feet of the attacker when the opportunity arose.
Add in two shots, one not that far off and Dier seems to be growing in this center-half role. If Mourinho could help make Gary Cahill all League and England first-teamer, imagine what he can do with Eric Dier.
Four-Star Performing Spurs
The standout performances of Dier and Lo Celso helped lift the team back to front and reflected a clear improvement in the defensive organization heretofore shown by Tottenham Hotspur this season. With this new defensive success at the center, the majority of the four-star performers come from that part of the pitch.
While it might be Eric Dier, it might be greater comfort under Jose Mourinho, or it might be the natural maturation of the 24-year-old Columbian, but Davinson Sanchez has looked as good as he ever has in a Spurs uniform in the last two games. In looking at his numbers quickly one might ask why he does have five stars like Eric Dier.
Sanchez only misplayed 1 of 52 passes in the back half and played an amazing 31 passes in the attacking half, with a combined completion percentage of 91. Like Dier Sanchez held firm on his feet avoiding some of the wild tackles he has exhibited in the past, helping control the West Ham attack.
Whether it was the early kick to the head on an attempted head clearance or just one of those nights, Sanchez really struggled in the air. Sanchez did not win a single aerial duel all night and only won one of 11 duels overall. The passing was excellent, the defense was good, but not great, so four stars it is.
Serge Aurier and Ben Davies
While neither back was at their best on the night, both were pretty good and played major, but differing roles in the game. As we have seen in the past, Aurier was often way up the pitch on the touchline as Ben Davies dropped into the left back in a three-man line with Dier in the middle. It was clear that much of the attack was going to center around getting Serge behind the defender down the right flank.
Aurier gave Creswell fits all night and pretty much made him a non-factor on the attack for the Hammers. Aurier got off three crosses, assisted one shot, and created trouble all night long. Aurier had an excellent first touch all night and avoided any silly mistakes on the defensive end, another strong game for the Ivory Coast international since returning.
The game plan for Ben Davies was much different, but the results were very much the same in terms of success for Spurs and frustration for West Ham. Ben Davies was the clear target. Whether it was trying to isolate Antonio, Bowen, or a drive Mark Noble, if a long cross-field ball was coming, Davies was the likely target.
Davies cracked but never crumbled as he swept away numerous balls at the back post with his head and feet. I do concede he did commit a couple of stupid fouls and one got him a red card and gave West Ham their best scoring opportunity, but offside and Hugo Lloris negated that opportunity and Spurs kept the clean sheet, so four-stars it is for Davies.
Hugo Lloris and Steven Bergwijn
At first, this might seem the odd pair to put together as four-star performers, but the reality is they about the same thing on the night, which was perform when called upon. It was neither the players’ fault they were not called upon a lot. Lloris played the full 90 minutes and kept the clean sheet saving both official shots he faced. Possibly his best save was on a play negated by an offside call, but both Lloris and Eric Dier did their jobs keeping the ball out of the net and avoiding that mental accomplishment for the opponent. Bottom line, Lloris did what he had too and the same can be said for Bergwijn.
Steven Bergwijn only played 18 minutes, but boy, were they impactful. Bergwijn had more touches 21 than minutes 18 and managed to complete 16 of 17 passes during that time, setting up one shot. Like Hugo Lloris, Bergwijn was not asked to do a lot, but what he was asked to do he made count. This guy might just be incredible.
BTW, for anyone scoring at home I had put Jose here in the four-star category, as he had a clear game plan and it was executed well.
Not everyone can light up the pitch, but the truth is most of these three-star performers DID light up the pitch, just not as bright as the other players. Jose Mourinho has mentioned six players are his attackers, and half of them ended up here.
Yes, Harry Kane scored a goal and yes, he was miles – or is it kilometers – better than he was against United, but let’s be real, he is still not in top form. There was more movement, there were more shots, and of course, there was the goal. And while his turn and distribute play was okay, his hold-up and distribution was non-existent not playing a single back pass on the night. The good news in my mind is that after that performance I am confident in Kane’s ability to find his way and find the net in Jose’s offense.
Dele Alli did not have a great night by any stretch. He fluffed his lines twice when the opportunity to shoot arose and he completed under 80% of his passes. However, Dele did have two half-chances and played a couple of nice balls creating some opportunities in Spurs attack. One ball was exactly the through ball to Son that Erik Lamela had missed on against United. It was not Dele’s fault Son failed to capitalize. A nice first outing back and pulled at about 1 hour.
Dele was pulled for the same player he replaced in the starting XI Erik Lamela. Lamela came on a lot more focused on his passing than his display against United, completing all 19 passes he attempted and getting one shot off in that time. Before people go to crazy, in the exact opposite of Harry Kane none of Lamela’s passes were forward. And while Lamela may not have missed any passes he did lose the ball twice on the dribble, all in just 30 minutes of action with NO FOULS.
It is not so much that Moussa Sissoko, Heung Min Son, and Lucas Moura played poorly, but they just were not that great compared to their own standards.
Son would have gone to three-stars like Kane if his goal would have stood and although incredibly active with touches and passing, completing 40 of 42 passes on 56 touches, his overall impact on the game was not that great.
Son was dispossessed three times and committed a foul add in only 1 cross from our winger that was not a corner and it was not his best performance.
Moussa Sissoko was just a little extra sloppy on the night. He had some lose touches and passes in some bad spots in the attacking third and it hurt the momentum.
He did have a nice shoulder-to-shoulder challenge early on Mark Noble in the box, but frankly, Dier saved his bacon with the obstruction step. If there might be an opportunity for someone to step in Tanguy Dembele are you listening – it would be to replace this guy, which is frankly a tall order, even on a two-star night.
Lucas Moura has had better games than what we saw against West Ham. He had one good shot and one terrible one, but other than that failed to find the space needed to really let his speed help him in the game. The difference between him and Bergwijn was quite noticeable, but Bergwijn also had fresh legs versus tired. That said, Bergwijn might come into the side over Lucas before Lamela over Dele.
I should note Harry Winks had an impressive four minutes completing all 15 of his passes, but at this point, the game was over and done with, but good to see Winks is there in the competition for places and he is a solid lead holder.