Tottenham Pay Price for Lack of Quality in Final Third as West Ham Win


West Ham United saw Tottenham pay the price for an alarming lack of quality in the final third as David Moyes’ side went fourth and Spurs dropped to sixth. Both teams were unchanged from their last Premier League matches, with both looking to take the chance to go fourth in the Premier League table.

Whilst West Ham United have been continuing where they left off from an impressive last season under David Moyes, Tottenham have had a topsy turvy start to their season with three wins followed by three defeats and then two wins in between a less than impressive effort in the Europa Conference League against Vitesse Arnhem. Spurs’ fringe players were disappointing and, unsurprisingly, none of them made this match day starting 11 with, Harry Winks dropped from the squad altogether.

Alarming Lack of Quality in Final Third Sees Tottenham Pay Price

Opportunities for Both Sides in Goalless First 45 Minutes

Moyes has found a settled 11 and they were looking for an early goal to get the home fans behind them, and it nearly came when Pablo Fornals connected with a high cross at the far post and kept his volley low, but it wasn’t enough to catch out Hugo Lloris, who pushed the ball away to safety. Declan Rice pressed high with energy, forcing Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp into some rushed and wayward passes.

Tottenham started to get a foothold into the game after 20 minutes and Son Heung-min was at the heart of two excellent chances. First he wriggled free and the ball came to Lucas Moura, who turned but lost his bearing and scuffed the ball over the bar. Shortly afterward, Son connected with Tanguy Ndombele, who played a return through ball but Son miss-kicked his shot and Lukaksz Fabianski was grateful that the ball just rolled into his grasp.

Tottenham nearly took the lead on half-time when a superb Sergio Reguilon cross was met by Harry Kane, looking for just his second Premier League goal of the season, but Fabianski tipped the ball over for a corner kick.

At the other end, Michail Antonio was giving Cristian Romero a torrid time and brushed him aside on more than one occasion. He did so again at the end of the first half but wasted the chance by firing high and wide instead of finding Fornals who, worryingly for Spurs, was in acres of space in the box.

Tottenham just edged the better of the chances in the first half but were unable to break down a resistant Hammers back line.

Tottenham’s Final Ball Lacks Quality

There was a purpose and a spring in Spurs’ step and they squandered chances to take the lead early on the second half. Skipp played a diagonal ball to Ndombele, who only needed to find a good cross but found the hands of Fabianski instead before a delightful move between Ndombele, Moura and Reguilon ended with a cross that found no one.

There was a slickness to Spurs’ play but the final ball and finish were sorely lacking. Kane was also guilty of a poor ball when he should have played Son in for a goal but his ball was weak and once more Fabianski could not believe his luck. Spurs could have been out of sight had the final ball been a quality one.

Romero was known for being hot headed during his time with Atalanta in Serie A, often being in the top ten for cards collected and he showed that side of his game when he needlessly picked up a yellow card for an over reaction after winning a duel with Fornals. Romero had done his job and needed to walk away but instead reacted to Fornals after the challenge. Nuno Espírito Santo pleaded with his defender from the touchline to stay calm.

Antonio Makes Tottenham Pay

Those missed opportunities came back to haunt Spurs in the form of a player they released when he was aged just 14 – Michail Antonio. Aaron Cresswell delivered an in-swinging corner which evaded two Spurs players and Antonio reacted quickest to prod home. It was a whipped delivery but the defending from Tottenham was really poor and West Ham, who could have been two or three goals down had Spurs been able to show quality in the final third, were in front against the run of play.

Both Tottenham and West Ham played in Europe in midweek. West Ham played a strong team and took three points whilst Spurs rested all 11 players. And it showed at the London Stadium, as Spurs lost in a poor display.

West Ham are maintaining their form this season and moved into the top four whilst Espírito Santo, who has been resting his players, failed in Europe and failed in East London. Resting players is a large part of football and rotation of key players is understandable with so many games coming quick and fast, but this defeat shines even more light onto Spurs’ lack of strength in depth. The players brought in during the European tie proved they are not good enough and against West Ham, the first 11 failed to deliver as well despite chances to do so.

Espírito Santo Can’t Change Final Third Play as Tottenham Pay Price

The Tottenham boss will no doubt come in for criticism for this defeat, but it is hard to argue what he actually got wrong against West Ham. Had Kane, Son, Reguillon and Ndombele been able to play what were simple final balls, Tottenham would have gone fourth and the score line could have been very different.

It is easy to question the manager over the resting of players and changing line-ups, but ultimately the Spurs manager cannot be at fault for his players not delivering final balls that are usually bread and butter to the talent in question. Those players need to take a hard look at themselves and simply must do much better. It is another game without a goal for Kane and his continued poor form in front of goal in the league as well as his all round play continues to be a huge weight around Spurs’ shoulders.

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images