Antonio strike sinks Spurs at the London Stadium
Nuno Espirito Santo insists Tottenham were the 'better team' in their 1-0 defeat at West Ham
Sunday, 24th October 2021 — By Dan Carrier at the London Stadium
WEST HAM 1 (Antonio 72)
IT makes for grim reading: four London derbies played before the end of October, with an aggregate of 10 goals conceded and one in reply.
And while today’s (Sunday) tight game against West Ham at the London Stadium, settled by a Michail Antonio goal from a set-piece, was a vast improvement compared to the debacles against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal – it was far off the standard Spurs needed to crawl into the top-four of the Premier League.
Speaking after the game, Nuno Espirito Santo said he felt his side had “dominated” – the visitors enjoyed 62 per cent possession – but such statistics hide the lack of genuine pressure.
The Tottenham boss added: “I thought we were better throughout the game. We played better, controlled the game, had possession.
“In the first half we had chances that we need to be more accurate on. All the game was under control, just a moment on a set-piece where maybe we lacked a bit of focus. We need to be more aggressive in that moment, and we conceded. After that, until the end, we tried to achieve the goal we deserved.”
Nuno kept the same starting line-up that had won 3-2 away at Newcastle seven days ago, but West Ham were to offer a much tougher test than the struggling Magpies.
It was no surprise the Hammers – roared on by their fans and pumped up for a derby they love to win – came out of the traps quicker.
Within the opening five minutes they caused chaos in the Tottenham box with a corner that no one got hold of. And again on seven minutes, when a Pablo Fornals volley tested Hugo Lloris.
The Spurs’ keeper had to be quick getting across to stop the goal-bound effort, producing an athletic dive that saw Lloris get two hands to the ball and push it away. It would be one of two genuinely world class saves from the Spurs shot-stopper.
It took Spurs 20 minutes to conjure up their first clear chance. Heung-Min Son managed to get away in the right channel, but before he could carve the space for a shot, the excellent Kurt Zouma got in the block. A clumsy tussle for the ball ensued, with it squirting out to Lucas Moura, who turned well under pressure only to scoop an effort high and wide.
Tottenham grew into the contest, with Tanguy Ndombele dropping off and pulling the strings. It was his slide rule pass for Son on 23 that saw the striker slip behind the defence and force Lukasz Fabianski into a low save. Harry Kane also forced Fabianski into a block with a well-placed and powerful header.
The second half exploded into life as soon as it got underway – but the intensity shown by both sets of players led to mistakes and scrappy chances.
On 72, the match-settling mistake came and it was made by the unfortunate Sergio Reguilon. The left-back had done well to intercept a dangerous ball, but instead of banging it clear, he allowed himself to be robbed of the ball by Tomas Soucek.
Soucek’s shot was brilliantly tipped over by Lloris, but it only kept the score even for another minute. From the resulting corner, Spurs failed to clear at the near post and Antonio was quickest to get a toe to the ball and nudge home the winner.
If there were any silver linings for Spurs, it was Cristian Romero’s growing confidence at the back, and another mature performance centrally by Oliver Skipp.
But with Kane, Moura, Son and Ndombele failing to unlock the West Ham defence with any regularity, despite the amount of possession Spurs had, Nuno cannot really have many complaints over the 1-0 defeat.
West Ham: Fabianski, Johnson, Ogbonna, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen (Dawson, 90+1), Benrahma (Lanzini, 85) Fornals, Antonio
Substitutes not used: Areola, Diop, Masuaku, Ashby, Noble, Vlasic, Yarmolenko
Spurs: Lloris, Royal, Dier, Romero, Reguilon (Gil, 83), Hojbjerg, Skipp, Moura (Bergwijn, 90+1), Ndombele (Lo Celso, 83), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Gollini, Sanchez, Tanganga, Rodon, Davies, Alli