Written by Rhys Paul
It looked as if it was going to happen. It really did. Then West Ham bottled it like only they could. The Hammers had twice taken the lead through Michail Antonio (24′) and Manuel Lanzini’s penalty (68′). Harry Kane will (undeservedly) take all the plaudits, but it was Harry Winks who was the standout Spurs player on his full Premier League debut. He certainly did not look out of place and, although it was gifted to him, his equaliser (51′) sparked the hosts back into life after the interval. Justice was served when Vincent Janssen pulled back Winston Reid to help the visitors restore their lead after his earlier handball had played a role in getting his side level. Then it happened. The incompetency of Angelo Ogbonna and Darren Randolph allowed Kane (89′) to tap into an empty net from close range following some good work down the left by Son Heung-Min. Less than two minutes later a rejuvenated Spurs side were awarded a penalty after Mike Dean rightfully deemed Havard Nordtveit’s clumsy sliding challenge to have tripped the problematic Son. Kane converted (91′) and condemned West Ham to yet another avoidable defeat.
Let’s be clear, Tottenham were not good and Kane epitomised that. He only showed up for the last five minutes, but I suppose that is all that matters if it translates into goals. This was very much another case study of West Ham’s inability to see a game through to the end. Individual mistakes, missed chances and overplaying are all becoming regular themes in West Ham’s season and, on the back of that, it is difficult to see them mustering up the fight to survive a relegation battle – and that is exactly what West Ham are in right now. It wasn’t that they lost to the only unbeaten side in the league, it was the manner in which they lost it. No other team continues to shoot themselves in the foot as much as West Ham do. There is a worrying inability for the team to show up for the entire 90 minutes. I am a supporter of Slaven Bilic, but his substitutions were pathetic. Bilic has never struck me as the type of manager who likes his teams to go defensive, but his decision to replace Dimitri Payet (arguably the only player in the team who can make something happen out of nothing) for the defensive-minded Nordtveit speaks volumes of his desperation to get some points on the board. There were some good individual performances in there, but they were unfortunately let down by a handful of their teammates with one player’s performance primarily responsible for the 3-2 defeat.
Darren Randolph – 6
Fans were overjoyed when it was announced that Randolph would replace Adrian in goal. Both are very good on their day, but both have mistakes in their game. Randolph really struggled to deal with balls across the box, so it was unsurprising that Winks and Kane made this count with two close range equalisers. A phenomenal save to deny Eric Dier was crucial in keeping the score at 1-1 during an intense period of Spurs pressure. Still, the decision to dive at Son’s low cross diverted the ball into Kane’s path. I am probably being harsh, but he didn’t look comfortable to me.
Cheikhou Kouyate – 6.5
Kouyate in the first-half was hungry and determined. That attitude combined with his natural talents made him a handful for Spurs. He was striding forward with ease, but he faded in the second-half. Lesser men would have gone off after being hacked into the technical area by Janssen and then suffering a clash of heads with Christian Eriksen.
Winston Reid – 8 (Man-of-the-Match)
A red card in the 96th minute was unjust and unnecessary. Reid had been a rock at the back and actually made himself a nuisance further up the pitch as well. First to every ball, he deputised superbly as captain in Mark Noble’s absence and his aggression in winning the ball was exactly what you want to see in a defender.
Angelo Ogbonna – 4
Another careless performance from the Italian. He needs reminding that he is a centre-back and not a midfield maestro. He thoughtlessly messed around with the ball in his own half before losing possession to begin the build-up to Winks’ equaliser. This is his second season in English football, yet he still thinks he has the time on the ball that he would have in Serie A. His positioning remains an issue and he relies on Reid to lead him through the game. An upgrade is needed in my opinion.
Michail Antonio – 7.5
This was Antonio’s best game in weeks. He was powerful, clever and brimming with confidence. He relished the battle against Danny Rose, both offensively and defensively. The opening goal was the result of Antonio’s willingness to throw himself at the ball. Like others, he faded over the course of the second-half. Even so, a very strong performance from the Hammers’ top goalscorer.
Pedro Obiang – 7
A classic Obiang performance. He was effective in sticking to the basics. It was always going to be a tough battle in midfield, but he did more than just stand his ground. He threw himself in front of Rose’s long-range effort on the hour mark and put in yet another tireless performance.
Manuel Lanzini – 7.5
Slipping into a more central role, Lanzini thrived in Noble’s absence. He just did not seem to stop running and his goal was a testament to his hard work. His footwork is mesmerising at times and he almost managed to find a way through a packed central defence. He took his penalty superbly and, like Antonio, he fully deserved it.
Aaron Cresswell – 6
One of the few players who experienced a quiet game. Spurs were clearly aware that the right wing would be the Hammers’ Achilles heel, so the majority of their attacks were concentrated on that side.
Andre Ayew – 6
Ayew still looks to be finding his footing in the team. It’s glaringly obvious that he does not have a set position in the team and he has suffered because of this. That said, he is a classy player who is beginning to look more and more comfortable linking up with his new teammates. He cannot be faulted for effort and that will see him eventually come good for the Hammers.
Dimitri Payet – 7
Another player whose talent is unquestionable. Payet spent much of the opening period isolated from the game, but he seemed in his element when leading the counter-attacks in the second-half. It was encouraging to see an improvement in the standard of his set-pieces and it was his corner that created the chaos leading to Antonio’s opener. An ill-thought decision to withdraw the Frenchman ultimately led to the Hammers’ downfall.
Diafra Sakho – 6
Fans saw him as the answer and this was Sakho’s chance at redemption. Typically, Sakho did not deliver. He looked disinterested and his lack of match fitness was evident. However, he did cause a few problems and it was a lot more reassuring to see him leading the line once again. Maybe he will come good when he’s fully fit, but he just seems to be biding his time before his inevitable departure.
Simone Zaza (61′ for Sakho) – 3
I was tempted to concede my hopes for the three points when Zaza came on, but Lanzini’s penalty temporarily suggested otherwise. The Hammers had two golden opportunities to wrap the game up and make it 3-1, yet Zaza ruined both moves; firstly with a poor shot and secondly by releasing the ball too late. Go back to Italy, please.
Edimilson Fernandes (61′ for Ayew) – 6
Easily the best substitution, but he hardly had much competition for that title. He was the right choice to keep the Hammers on the attack and he was at the centre of a couple of the team’s most promising counter-attacks. A bright young talent without question.
Havard Nordtveit (85′ for Payet) – 1
A delusional substitution – West Ham’s best player for one of their worst. I suppose they aren’t too dissimilar as Nordtveit did prove that he is just as capable as Payet as single-handedly changing the outcome of a game. Introduced to shore up the defence (because inviting pressure always works out), Nordtveit did the complete opposite and gave away a completely needless penalty which transformed supporters’ disappointment at dropping two points into suicidal despair at dropping all three. I’ve defended him in the past, but he should never wear a West Ham shirt ever again.
Who was your man-of-the-match against Tottenham? Do you agree with the ratings? Let us know in the comments below!
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