In a week where Tottenham could’ve all but secured a Champions League place for next season, they, like their rivals, stumbled.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were yet to lose or concede a goal since their move from White Hart Lane prior to kick-off – a record that was expunged by a moment of quality from Michail Antonio in the second-half as Spurs were made to rue a series of missed opportunities by a spirited West Ham side.
The forward’s strike was no more than the Hammers deserved for a terrific display that saw them carve open Tottenham’s defence time and time again.
The result means that Chelsea can go level on points with Tottenham with a win against Manchester United while West Ham remain in 11th place.
Story of the Match
West Ham made a bright start to the game, threatening through Felipe Anderson on the left-hand side. The forward could well have opened the scoring after a lovely run into the Tottenham area, but his shot lacked the gumption to threaten Hugo Lloris. Declan Rice would also have a chance, sending a long-shot high of the bar before Spurs began to show a threat of their own.
Pressing on the front-foot with positive combination play between Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, Spurs found spaces between West Ham’s midfield and defence, turning and slotting into the path of Heung-min Son.
Son, who has been in red hot form of late, would have the best chance of the half after Christian Eriksen was afforded time and space to turn before passing in behind but the South-Korean’s effort lacked any real conviction, with Lukasz Fabianski able to get down well and make a smart save. Later stifling an effort from Erisken himself, it was another big performance from the West Ham goalkeeper, who has impressed in recent weeks.
A lack of ruthlessness would inevitably prove to be Spurs’ undoing, with the second-half a tale of contrasting moods. While Tottenham’s energy looked spent and their creative players failed to break through a resilient defence, the Hammers showed plenty of flair with a series of counter-attacks.
Indeed, it would prove to be the source for their goal, with Marko Arnautovic producing a delightful chipped ball over the head of Toby Alderweireld and into the path of Michail Antonio. A deft touch and emphatic finish later, the Hammers would be the first to breach Tottenham’s defence in their new ground.
Spurs almost delivered an instant response through Ben Davies after neat combination play with Danny Rose got the left-back in on goal. However, a heroic lunge from Ryan Fredericks thwarted his goal-bound effort. West Ham did well to weather what Tottenham threw at them and could well have added to their tally through Antonio before a mazy run from Issa Diop forced Hugo Lloris into a low save.
As Tottenham's creative players failed to break down a rigid defence, Juan Foyth took matters into his own hands late on, skipping past numerous West Ham players before crossing to Vincent Janssen. Fabian Balbuena’s goal-line clearance would prove to be the nail in the coffin for Pochettino’s side, who will need to produce a much better performance if they are to get anything against Ajax in midweek.
Spurs tire ahead of Champions League showdown
Momentum can be such a potent weapon in football, overriding tired legs and tired minds. Pochettino would’ve eyed this game as a chance to build up ahead of a steam before a showdown with Ajax on Tuesday night, but instead it acted as an indication of the heavy legs his side are bearing.
Where Heung-min Son has been so deadly this season, here he was laboured, struggling to get the ball out of his feet and hesitating to shoot on occasions where he found himself with space.
Likewise, Dele Alli struggled to maintain a positive start. Getting into some promising positions between the West Ham lines, the England international was Tottenham’s creative spark in the first-half but faded as the game wore on, struggling to break down a resilient defence.
Their tired second-half performances and lack of ruthlessness in the final third will be a worry ahead of a huge week for the club.
West Ham purr on the counter-attack and impress at the back
The Hammers have delivered some decent performances against the top-six this season, with Pellegrini quick to point out that his team had come close to a big result against Arsenal and Manchester United earlier on in the campaign. However, for all the flare and resilience show in prior displays, they lacked the necessary penetration to translate it onto the scoreboard.
There could be no such qualms here; Antonio’s effort proved to be the difference between the two sides but it could easily have been two or three for West Ham, who boasted an impressive counter-attacking unit. Using the power of Marko Arnautovic and the pace of Michail Antonio made it a testing afternoon for the Spurs defence.
The returning centre-back partnership of Diop and Balbuena worked to great effect, with both players using their aerial prowess to clear the danger. But for Balbuena’s last-gasp interception, Spurs would’ve been gifted a dramatic ‘get out of jail’ free card by Janssen. Elsewhere, Ryan Fredricks epitomised the second-half improvement, settling down after a shaky start to give West Ham an attacking threat down the right-hand side while Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson kept Spurs’ full-backs busy.
Mark Noble the orchestrator
While some continue to question whether West Ham would be better off moving on from Mark Noble, the club captain proved his worth at the base of the midfield, battling well alongside Declan Rice to thwart Tottenham’s attacks.
The 31-year-old has never lacked in effort or desire and such characteristics acted as the instigator for a hard-fought away performance, setting the tempo for his teammates to get in the faces of the Tottenham players. Harrying the home side into mistakes, he ensured that Pochettino’s side weren’t allowed to build up ahead of steam, earning a well-deserved standing ovation for his performance when substituted deep into the second-half.