West Ham 2 Tottenham 0: Three talking points
West Ham 2 Tottenham 0: Three talking points as the Hammers get the better of their London rivals
Allardyce gets the better of Sherwood
It was finesse against brawn. Control against brute force. And when Tottenham Hotspur travelled to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday afternoon, they will have felt quietly confident in their abilities. But West Ham United put paid to those ideas with a 2-0 victory to complete a league double. Coming into the tie, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce had seen his side slump to four losses in a row against West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Liverpool, so the signs didn’t look particularly good for the hosts to snatch any points. But a hard 90-minute slog later and they had secured maximum points. Utilising the aerial threat of their big man up front, Andy Carroll, and piling huge pressure on their opponents in all areas, West Ham put Spurs under the cosh for large periods with some excellently placed crosses and dead-balls, and in the final third of the opening period, they got a lucky break. Stewart Downing, played straight through on goal, and pursued by three defenders was hauled down just outside the box by Younes Kaboul. And the referee duly sent the French defender off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The resulting free-kick was palmed away expertly by Hugo Lloris, but the ensuing corner was headed at goal by Carroll, deflected off Harry Kane’s head and flew into the back of the net. It was a cruel way to go a goal down, but Allardyce’s game-plan meant that they richly deserved it.
Hammers reach the magical 40 points mark
It was a huge win for West Ham as they confirmed their place in next season’s upper echelon with some great determination. Stewart Downing’s well-struck free-kick just before the half-time whistle underlined the lack of cohesion in the Spurs defence after the ball squeezed through a poorly-manned wall, and also showed just how gung-ho the Hammers had been. Indeed, for as many half-chances as Spurs created, particularly in the second half, they just seemed to lack that extra bit of resolve to find a way back into contention. Clearly, Kevin Nolan and his team-mates possessed that little bit more in the tank. In essence, the incentive to guarantee their top flight status was stronger then Spurs’ desire to all-but clinch their Europa League spot. In fact, the final score could have been even less flattering to the visitors if it had not been for the heroics of Hugo Lloris between the posts. His great reactions and first-class saves kept the travelling supporters believing, and although it was in vain, it was yet another testament to just how good the French international is on his day. His denial of Mohamed Diame’s flamboyant acrobatic effort following the restart was a fantastic snapshot of just how influential he was.
Spurs fail to deliver on their promise
If you’d been reading the papers this week, it would have been hard not to notice Tim Sherwood tooting his own horn. Making quite a ruckus about his excellent record since his time in the Spurs dugout, one would have thought, he would have had a better plan of action for Saturday’s tie. Granted, they were unlucky at times, but they just didn’t look like a team who had done their homework. Carroll was always going to be a threat, and Allardyce was always going to play to his strengths, so it was quite baffling to see them fail to come up with a solution to their long-ball game. And when Paulinho was subbed for Sandro, the plot thickened even further. Providing quite a physical presence in the middle of the park, it seemed likely that his style would play right into the hosts’ hands. And, just moments after his introduction, he did just that to commit a foul and gift the Hammers a platform for yet another aerial bombardment. Simply put, Spurs were complacent. The nearest they came to really testing the suspect Adrian San Miguel in goal was towards the end of the match when Danny Rose charged at the back four to unleash a venomous shot towards the top corner, but the Spaniard stepped up to the plate to push the effort to safety. Not the most convincing performance any champions of Sherwood’s record have seen since his introduction, and it’s sure to raise a few eyebrows.