Tottenham followed up their 1-1 draw with Manchester United with a 2-0 victory against West Ham on Tuesday night, climbing up to seventh in the Premier League table.
A slow start to proceedings meant Lucas Moura and Harry Kane’s efforts from distance were the only significant pieces of action in the opening stages.
The hosts continued to improve as the half wore on, however, and they thought they’d taken the lead just before the breakthrough through Son Heung-min, but the South Korean’s fine finish was ruled out for offside following VAR intervention. Moura then spurned a gilt-edged opportunity in stoppage time as the sides went into half-time 0-0.
A brighter start to the second period saw chances come at both ends; Eric Dier curled his effort from distance wide, Kane had his innovative flick smothered by Lukasz Fabianski, while Pablo Fornals should’ve done much better with his effort from inside the area.
An improving game was deserving of a goal and it finally got one through Tomas Soucek…at the wrong end as Spurs took the lead just after the hour.
The goal sparked some life into the visitors as Jarrod Bowen struck the post, but as they searched for the equaliser, Spurs struck in transition with Kane rounding off a swift break to gift the Lilywhites a 2-0 victory.
Key Talking Point
It wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot to like from this Spurs performance on Tuesday night.
After starting in uninspiring fashion, Spurs started to impose their will on an initially parked West Ham bus; counter-pressing effectively and sustaining attacks impressively. The positional play system Jose Mourinho is trying to implement continues to improve from a structural perspective.
When they took a deserved lead there certainly would’ve been concerns about Mourinho altering his approach, and although the visitors undoubtedly improved, Spurs were able to weather the storm and eventually pick them apart in transition.
More signs of encouragement for the Portuguese boss, but there’s no doubt Spurs fans will be concerned about Tanguy Ndombele’s second no-show on the spin.
Starting XI: Lloris (6); Aurier (5), Sanchez (7), Dier (8*), Davies (7); Sissoko (5), Lo Celso (8); Lucas (5), Dele (6), Son (6); Kane (6).
Subs: Lamela (6), Bergwijn (6), Winks (N/A).
Paul Pogba’s magic ruined a fine performance by the Englishman last time out, and he shone once more at centre-back in this one.
The brutish and determined Michail Antonio proves a tough assignment for many, but Dier marshalled him expertly, dominating him in the air.
He wasn’t spectacular in possession but competent, often calmly finding a teammate with tidy pieces of play.
Dier’s last two performances highlight that his future lies at the heart of defence.
Key Talking Point
It’s a shame this West Ham side didn’t start to play until they’d gone a goal down.
After paying Spurs a little too much respect in the opening period with a mightily deep defensive block, the Hammers started to come out of their shell as the game progressed – with Bowen a particular bright spark in all phases of play.
Overall, it was a stout defensive display before they went in search of an equaliser – preventing Spurs’ creators from combining between the lines with their aggression, but they failed to make the most of the few moments on the break as a result of a fine performance from the hosts in defensive transition.
Ultimately, however, they were second best and there’s little doubting they’re in for an almighty relegation dog-fight.
Starting XI: Fabianski (6); Fredericks (5), Balbuena (6), Diop (7), Cresswell (6); Rice (8*), Noble (4), Soucek (6); Bowen (8), Antonio (5), Fornals (5).
Subs: Anderson (5), Lanzini (5).
Declan Rice continues to impress for the Hammers this term, and he was superb again on Tuesday night.
While in the opening period he was tasked with remaining compact and disciplined, the second half saw him earn a little more positional freedom – with a couple of marauding runs from midfield and sprayed passes out to both flanks particular highlights of his display.
He showed off his nous at the other end of the pitch as well; being physical in duels, cutting out passing lanes and picking off passes astutely.