Erik Lamela’s header on the stroke of half-time was the difference as the Hammers failed to score for the second game running.
Manuel Pellegrini was forced to make two changes going into the game against Tottenham Hotspur. Pedro Obiang picked up an injury in training and was replaced by Robert Snodgrass, whilst Arthur Masuaku suffered an ankle injury on international duty, so he was replaced by Aaron Cresswell. Javier Hernandez also returned to the bench after illness.
It was clear from the outset that Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko would have important defensive roles to play as West Ham’s back four stuck to a narrow shape. Both teams had chances in the first half, but the best opportunity fell to Harry Kane, who found himself clean through on the left side of the box before an excellent sliding challenge from Issa Diop denied him a shot at goal. Felipe Anderson had a poor first half and he was responsible for three corners not beating the first man as well as looking fragile defensively.
The injury to Yarmolenko was the turning point in the first half. After 40 minutes, Snodgrass whipped a corner to the back post where the Ukrainian attempted to retain possession. Yarmolenko then went down and it was clear that he had sustained a serious ankle injury. Until the end of the half Spurs were on top and the opening goal looked inevitable.
In the 44th minute Mark Noble was dispossessed in the middle of the pitch, but the Hammers managed to regain their shape. Then Cresswell was dragged out of position and Moussa Sissoko easily beat the covering Anderson. Sissoko delivered a nice ball into the six-yard box and Lamela finished with a glancing header. Both Diop and Fabian Balbuena stepped up, but Pablo Zabeleta had to track the run which left space for the onrushing Lamela. The phase should have been stopped at source, therefore the blame for conceding must lie with Cresswell for his poor positioning and Anderson for being weak in the challenge.
After half-time Pellegrini pushed his full backs forward, and this was an interesting move because it stopped the opposition’s full backs advancing so there was less need for Anderson to defend. However, this tactical change meant the game opened up and before long Anderson was substituted for Javier Hernandez and West Ham switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
West Ham dominated possession in the second half and created a number of chances. Hugo Lloris produced some spectacular saves from Marko Arnautovic, including a header just after the break and a shot from range. The Hammers then scored but it was ruled out for offside after some intricate passing from Arnautovic and Hernandez.
Davidson Sanchez struggled all afternoon with Arnautovic’s movement and this contributed to West Ham’s biggest chance, which came in the 90th minute. After a lovely give and go between Arnautovic and Hernandez the Austria international got the better of Sanchez but Lloris came out quickly to smother the attack and keep his clean sheet.
Despite the creativity of West Ham’s front two in the second half, the best player in claret and blue was Diop. He looked solid throughout and did not look nervous, despite being up against Kane. His partnership with Balbuena is getting stronger each week and at only 21-years-old, the Frenchman looks like a fantastic signing.
Overall, it was a fairly even game where a five-minute spell before half time was the difference for Spurs. The injury to Yarmolenko was a blow to West Ham that put a halt to any momentum they had gained. Tottenham exploited this and got their goal. Despite failing to score and lacking quality in wide areas there were plenty of positives to take for West Ham.