Visiting the London Stadium hasn’t proved easy for Spurs in previous seasons, but last night’s performance will be a tough one to swallow for many Tottenham fans.
So far this season, Tottenham have looked groggy and lethargic in the first half of all four previous games in the lead-up to West Ham away. Last night, they somewhat flipped the script.
Michail Antonio had a rocketing shot from outside the area slam against the post, leaving Spurs and Hugo Lloris helpless. Aside from that effort, West Ham didn’t offer anything in the first 45 minutes, and Tottenham seemed confident, bar Yves Bissouma.
Ivan Perisic continued to impress. He baffled West Ham’s full-backs and played dangerous balls into the box. One resulted in a penalty, which VAR then overturned.
Quick, two-touch passing. Movement on and off the ball. Some intelligent runs in behind West Ham’s defence and a lethal counter-attack ended in Hammer’s new boy Thilo Kehrer slotting home an own goal on the back of Harry Kane‘s slick pass across the 6-yard box, initially aiming for teammate Heung-Min Son.
West Ham didn’t seem to be in the game. Occasional rallies of urgency and lifts in noise from the crowd fizzled out fast as the Tottenham players hadn’t seemed fazed by either. West Ham returned to a stand-off type tactic, and Spurs’ defence continued to pass it around amongst them, patiently looking for space to move the ball forward.
As half-time arrived, it seemed obvious to swap out Son for Richarlison and assess the Bissouma situation.
Bissouma had picked up a silly booking and looked unconfident throughout his first-half display. Oliver Skipp may be a rusty option, but it seemed that it may still have been a good option to explore. Richarlison could have balanced Tottenham’s attack better, offering tenacity and urgency along with Dejan Kulusevski.
When Tottenham returned for the second half, without any changes to their team, it could be excused as giving the starting 11 more time to continue the fairly confident first-half display. And after 10 minutes, out of nowhere, West Ham was level.
Tottenham switched off, and Tomas Soucek finished cooly.
My personal attention turned to the bench. Son was performing below standard once again. Now Pierre Hojbjerg was up to all sorts of antics whilst Bissouma had at least settled down and grown into the game. Emerson Royal was being targeted, and Antonio Conte kept it the same for 75 minutes before finally introducing Richarlison…for Kulusevski?
Listen, I love Son. I really, really do. Nevertheless, he’s currently offering very little, aside from the idea he may offer something at some point. And I do appreciate that a top manager in Conte knows copious amounts more about football than I. Yet, I’m still going to question the total lack of plan B.
Whilst David Moyes was utilising the energy boosts of 5 substitutes, we were still watching Hojbjerg have a panic attack every time the ball came near him and Son playing as lethal as a nerf-gun on a war battlefield.
Richarlison came on and proved to be a live-wire. Taking the game right back to West Ham and being his annoying self. However, if either team were to score and take all three points by that point, it would’ve been the hosts.
With today being deadline day, it would be fun to dream about how Spurs could target an attacking midfielder to bolster their creative options. Or, potentially another proven forward to add more depth to their attacking trio should Lucas Moura depart.
Yet, aside from whispers of Dan James, there’s no real noise about Tottenham signing one last name for the season. Amazingly, even after seven signings this summer, this still upsets me.
Last night’s display away to West Ham proved that Spurs are still lacking something. As always, I guess?
It’s a good start to the season. I’ll never complain about being unbeaten. The frustrations for me come from the irritating hypothetical situations based on the history and cycles of Spurs. Last night’s bench was lacklustre when it came to attacking options.
It was lacklustre when it came to proven creativity. Sure, Djed Spence could’ve come on and offered an injection of raw talent and pace, but it’s not a situation Conte trusts, nor do I.
Tottenham should’ve focused on bringing a player of James Maddison‘s nature into the squad. Even if Conte’s system isn’t built around having a player of this type usually, he has proven at Inter to still be able to incorporate or switch tactics to aid an attacking midfielder when needs must.