Premier League
West Ham United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3

Saturday, 23rd November 2019
by Chris Wilkerson

An atrocious West Ham performance allowed Tottenham Hotspur to win their first Premier League away game since January as the home side were flattered by a 3-2 defeat.

A late flurry where the Irons scored twice to reduce a 3-0 deficit changed the complexion of the game and may have saved Manuel Pellegrini's job.

For readers who have missed it, Tottenham came into this game with a new manager, a Portuguese coach named Jose Mourinho.

The West Ham manager probably enjoyed the attention that was taken away from him, and he changed his starting eleven by bringing back Angelo Ogbonna. What he didn't do was change the goalkeeper, giving Roberto the chance to flourish or flounder once more.

Unfortunately for anyone of the West Ham persuasion, the Spaniard's dire form punctuated the match hugely, although few of the players in front of him can be even slightly proud of how they performed.

Warnings signs were out straight away as Dele Alli found space between defence and midfield before turning and sliding Harry Kane behind a static backline. The England international finished wonderfully, only to be correctly adjudged offside.

What was worrying is not only the space Alli found, but that he did it regularly in the first half and no one on the pitch or on the sideline seemed to learn.

It was a glimpse of what was to come, whilst at the other end West Ham showed one or two glimpses in the first half themselves, but flattered to deceive.

Haller got to a Fredericks cross on the stretch to head harmlessly towards goal, and later contrived to fluff a good counter attack chance with Anderson, both of whom lacked any conviction. They should both apologise to Mark Noble, whose first-time, outside of the boot pass from in his own half was extraordinary in both vision and implementation,

The only moment to remember was full of controversy. After a delayed Yarmolenko cross, Snodgrass moved towards the ball only to be clattered into and flattened by Aurier. The Spurs full back jumped at the Scot, quite clearly fouling him. It was a foul anywhere else on the pitch, everyone knows it, so it was somewhat frustrating to not even see a delay for VAR to check 52 replays and just confirm the referee's decision anyway.

Aside from that, well, it was ugly. Declan Rice can be praised for keeping it respectable, making two last ditch tackles in the area and a number of high quality interceptions in dangerous areas.

Sadly for him, the players around him were almost amateur.

Less than a minute after Rice had saved Diop's blushes once more, Tottenham took the lead. Whilst the visitors hadn't been anywhere near great, they really didn't need to be.

A clearance found it's why from Tottenham defence to the feet of Dele Alli, and once more the midfielder could turn to West Ham goal under no pressure. He slid it to Son, who sold Diop with one stepover and hit a left-footed shot close to the middle of the goal.

For reasons only Roberto knows, he declined to push his hands out towards the ball and it almost went through him to nestle into the net and give Tottenham a one goal lead, almost completely deflating the already fragile atmosphere.

The Spaniard did his best to terrify supporters and teammates alike minutes later when coming to punch a cross 10 yards from goal. Luckily for him, Ogbonna got to the ball before goalkeeper or opposition attacker could. There was concern after Roberto instead punched his defenders head, but there has been very little evidence to suggest those hands would hurt anyone.

It was 2-0 not long after. Ryan Fredericks appeared to stop as Alli fell to the ground with the ball seeming to drift off the pitch, but the midfielder maneuvered his legs quickly to still pass the ball down the line to Son.

For all his speed, Fredericks couldn't catch up, and Son then delivered a quite perfect ball with his left foot, one that curled low across the face of goal, away from goalkeeper and into the paths of Lucas Moura and Aaron Cresswell.

Cresswell threw himself at it to stop the forward, but could only divert it into his own net. It was somewhat cruel on the full back, but a testament to quite how good Son's ball into the box was.

The half ended shortly after, the players booed off by enough fans to hear in broadcast. The players had pretty much done nothing, Rice aside.

With that, Pellegrini sent his side back out for the second half with a very welcome change. The ineffective Anderson, who could be described lately with a lot of words far less kind, was withdrawn and welcomed back was Michail Antonio, the faint and fading hopes of West Ham fans quite clearly on his shoulders.

Individually, he didn't disappoint.

The team, however, continued to.

They were lucky not to be 3-0 down within two minutes of the restart, Moura electing to skew the ball harmlessly wide when through on goal in a way that looked quite difficult to do so badly.

Another two minutes later, the contest was over.

Again, it was simple. Again, it was unforgivable in the defence. What it wasn't, in any real shape or form, was particularly surprising. Inept? Yes. Unexpected? No.

Aurier was given the ball wide on the right, 25 yards from goal. With West Ham now playing a 4-4-2, Snodgrass didn't make it over to put pressure on and Cresswell didn't seem to have the idea even under consideration.

The cross was good, deep into the area, and Kane looked to attack it. Diop was a few steps ahead of him, yet somehow lost both man and ball with a weak and meek attempt to defend both separately that left him defending neither. Kane nodded it past Roberto, who shouldn't be expected to put his hands near shots.

It was the most obvious time that the England forward embarrassed the young French defender, but one of many. Diop has yet to improve with his physical and aerial defensive principles.

It was a performance from the defender that was bad enough to see him replaced by Carlos Sanchez, with Rice moved into central defence with around 30 minutes remaining.

Down the other end, Antonio was being a nuisance and asking questions of defenders that no other forward had. Frankly, he did more in a half than Haller has done in three or four games.

He was rewarded for his desire and persistence with a goal, one he took quite beautifully too.

A nice move down the right saw a cross delivered too deep but recovered by Snodgrass. His effort to put it back into the middle was cleared, but Noble drove on from midfield to beat anyone to the ball. He laid it off to Antonio on the edge of the area, who dropped a shoulder to lose Alderweireld and then turned to blast it beyond Gazzaniga in the Tottenham goal.

If not a lifeline, it was a reward for his play since coming on and any fans who had stayed to support the team. It was also a reminder of the kind of football he can produce, and instinctual and direct player who has been sorely missed.

It left West Ham with just over 15 minutes to find two goals.

They struggled to make inroads in that time, but Tottenham gave up any impetus as they dropped deep to cling onto a lead they were more than capable of extending.

Their reluctance to go forward did allow us all a wonderful moment as Snodgrass took exception to a sly foul by Kane to chase then throw the England captain to the floor. A yellow card well worth getting.

The Spurs reluctance to move forward with the ball may well, in the end, be what saved Manuel Pellegrini's job. It was somewhat of a dangerous tactic, especially as Rice scored a marginally offside goal with a minute on the clock.

In the end, West Ham did get a second goal, but too late to make it dramatic. Antonio quite fantastically bullied and beguiled Moussa Sissoko down the left before driving into the area. The cross was nearly turned into the net, but whilst that wasn't, the resulting corner was.

Snodgrass delivered and it found Ogbonna's feet, and the Italian did fantastically to rearrange them and volley into the Spurs goal to give a truly undeserved one goal deficit.

It mattered little to the result, the ball booted up field from kick off to see the game end, but it may well matter in the boardroom.

Make no mistake, this was a pitiful and woeful performance. The majority of players failed to deliver anything close to an acceptable standard of play, little of anything seemed evident in the way of a plan throughout the game, Tottenham allowed West Ham to attack late on, so sure were they that they had the game won.

Pellegrini had chosen to stick with Roberto and it backfired with another desperately poor performance. There were seemingly no plans to combat what Tottenham might do, no changes in the game to combat what they were doing and no energy levels or organisation that matched anything up against them.

The benefit of an international break should at least have given the side the opportunity to get rid of any mental fatigue around their current form, but this was as bad, if not worse, than the performances prior.

For this writer, it was a game that proved the manager had run his course. Failings of the board aside, there is very little excuse for how lifeless this side are. For 73 minutes, they were embarrassed by Tottenham. They had been embarrassed by Burnley, Newcastle, Everton and Oxford before this.

It leaves West Ham with one point since September ended, five points ahead of the relegation places as the final whistle blew.

More importantly, the performances in that spell have all been dreadful. For all the weaknesses he has been arguably forced to deal with, the attack is pedestrian and he has not improved or even looked to solve the problems in the centre of midfield. The defence are getting worse and the goalkeeper is comfortably the worst in the league.

As HeadHammerShark (of the wonderful and missed TheHList) said, Sullivan's penchant for inertia is likely to keep Pellegrini at the helm for a little while longer, as well as the outrageously large contract he would not want to pay off, this more than any other performance made what comes next inevitable.


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Player Ratings

Roberto Jimenez Gago
Not the greatest way to start his West Ham spell. Conceded four, probably could've done a little better with the last.


Ryan Fredericks
Enjoyed a productive opening 45 minutes, making several forays down the wing. A little less efective once City brought their big players on at the break.


Ben Johnson
No notable error. Good to see Pellegrini taking a closer look at his in pre-season.


Issa Diop
One vital error that led to City's third goal, as he conceded possession cheaply and unnecessary. As you might expect from a youngster.


Angelo Ogbonna
Still looking a little clumsy and conceded the penalty that put Manchester City ahead.


Declan Rice
Not involved to any great degree but made several decent interceptions and kept it simple.


Mark Noble
It seems his legs still haven't gone - and he's looking like a leader in every game.


Felipe Anderson
A decent half from the Brazilian winger, who gave one or two City defenders nightmares in the opening stages.


Manuel Lanzini
A decent first half but like many others, faded after the break.


Jack Wilshere
Fit again and it showed - and long may that remain the case.


Michail Antonio
A real busy bee in the 45 minutes he played as the lone striker - a role to be filled by the club's record signing upon returning from China.



Substitutes

Carlos Sanchez
(Replaced Rice) A pretty horrible appearance, in which he was responsible for the final City goal and lucky not to concede a (fairly clear) penalty.


Robert Snodgrass
(Replaced Wilshere) Largely anonymous against the better City players.


Andriy Yarmolenko
(Replaced Rice) "I'll be like a new signing!" he (sort of) said last week. And he was a bit. Unlucky not to score with an effort that rattled the post.


Javier Hernandez
(Replaced Antonio) Not really involved although one 25-yard free kick nearly caught City unawares.


Pablo Zabaleta
(Replaced Fredericks) The old boy endured a bit of a torrid time against City's attack in the second half.


Aaron Cresswell
(Replace Johnson) No more effective that young Johnson, who he replaced.


Pedro Obiang
It may well be his final appearance in claret and blue, the lack of notable effort was evident. * Other subs used: Grady Diangana (Lanzini 62); Winston Reid (Ogbonna 68).



Match Facts

West Ham United: Roberto Jimenez Gago, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Mark Noble 25                  .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Tottenham Hotspur: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks.