Off the train at White Hart Lane, the sirens from the streets accompanying the whirring of chopper blades above mean it’s obvious who we’re playing today – welcome West Ham.
The security in force around the ground and at the turnstiles had as much to do with last weekend’s events in France of course than any mischief the away fans might get up to. The bag and body searches and the length of time they were taking meant that when Le Marseillaise was played there were large areas of empty blue seats around the ground that were still there at kick-off. The searches became slightly less thorough, to put it politely, when it became clear that it was going to be a struggle to get everyone into the ground before half time let alone 4pm. A delay to the start of the game would’ve been the obvious and fair solution but no-one expects Sky Sports schedules to take second place to public security and safety.
Given our aerial deficiencies it was no surprise that Bilic went for Carroll up top but it was a bit of a shock that he decided to play Sakho alongside him. The subsequently outnumbered midfield never stood a chance with Lanzini and Moses isolated on the wings and the supply to the ponytail restricted to hoofs from Adrian and Reid. We squeezed and pressed but initially didn’t use any dominance we had to particularly good effect. We created pretty much nothing until Eriksen had a deflected shot from the edge of the area saved. Shortly afterwards Kane put us ahead when he used his strength to win the ball in the box following good work by Alli and Son and smack it high into the net.
West Ham initially responded well by forcing a couple of corners and hitting the bar but after Alderweireld put us two up by heading in Eriksen’s corner they fell apart. Son forced Adrian into a save by his right post before Alli hit the bar, Kane then completely fluffed a one on one.
The game should’ve been all over before halftime but with only a two goal lead we knew that West Ham still had a chance if they pulled themselves together after the break; instead though they seemed to get worse. They had no answer to the constant harrying of Alli, Kane, Eriksen and Son and we quickly got the third we needed when Tomkins gave the ball to Eriksen who passed to Kane. Harry’s shot from 25 yards was firm but too straight; Adrian let it squirm under his body though and that was that. The West Ham players were now bickering amongst themselves, they had no answer to the problems being posed by the strength and appetite of the home side.
Wave after wave of attack ensued, the biggest surprise was that it took us so long to get our fourth and that we stopped there. By the time Kyle Walker curled a shot, with the outside of his boot, inside the far post with ten minutes or so to go there were more blue seats than fans visible in the away end. By the time Lanzini scored a consolation effort there were probably 200 Hamsters left to see it. “Why the f*** are you still here?” sang the Park Lane.
So an outstanding team performance. Everywhere on the pitch we were stronger, more decisive and committed. Kane will get the headlines but the whole of the midfield was excellent. Dembélé played alongside Dier in front of the back four and will do so again next weekend given that Alli was booked after getting involved with the execrable Noble. Lamela will come straight back in after his suspension but there’s perhaps a warning here, 3 players suspended after only 13 games? Pressing obviously comes with a price.
To reduce West Ham to such a state as we did in this game is a pleasure indeed. Bilic had no idea how to help his side get back into the game after they’d fallen behind indeed he completely abandoned his attacking tactics midway through the second half when the man we were in trepidation of, Andy Carroll, was taken off. Their captain, Mark Noble was also substituted but he left to no applause from his loyal fans – the two time Hammer of the Year and maker of over 300 appearances in claret and blue clapped towards the away end but received only rhythmic hand gestures in return.
“It’s so quiet at the Lane” they sang early on, by the end they were outnumbered by stewards.
An annoying trip to Azerbaijan on Thursday and then another derby, this time against a vulnerable looking Chelsea. I can hardly wait. COYS.
Have something to tell us about this article?