It’s never easy with the Hammers, is it? Three goals up and cruising and we ultimately had to dodge a possible penalty shout on Andy Carroll by Davison Sanchez to secure the three points. The first half hour seemed all too familiar—Spurs controlling possession but failing to deliver a finish—or even a halfway decent shot. The Hammers broke well a couple of times, but alert defending particularly from Aurier (more on him later) prevented any serious threat. And then Carroll gave the ball away—and in a flash Christian Eriksen found a streaking Dele who crossed to an equally streaking Harry Kane—both onside by millimeters—for a simple header tap-in. Five minutes later a Joe Hart clearance was claimed by Jan Vertonghen, then flicked back to the Belgian by Eriksen, and there was Dele surging again, this time down the let slot, and when Hart saved his attempt Kane was there for an easy left-footed rebound.
In the second half West Ham began on the front foot, trying to reassert themselves in the match, but they were exposed in the back and a Spurs counter led to a Kane free kick, which found the post and a few seconds later a wide open Eriksen to find that same low corner for the third. Spurs appeared headed for a walk in the East London park, and even Chicarito’s conversion from a set piece seemed only a momentary distraction. Enter Serge Aurier into the drama—his first yellow was debatable but his second, in full knowledge he was playing on a caution and in the Hammers end, was pure folly. Spurs had to see a two goal lead out for over twenty minutes—the first fifteen of which passed rather harmlessly. Chicarito had one good chance but whipped it straight at Lloris, and Spurs had a couple of breaks misplayed by Kane or Dele or they could have had a fourth. Harry Winks was the unfortunate victim of the second goal—first needlessly surrendering possession after a neat run nearly the length of the pitch down the right flank, then, seconds later, being outrun by Arthur Masuaku whose cross found a leaping Kouyate for a deserved goal.
Fernando Llorente and Winston Reid provided the late entertainment, but actually Llorente did just what Poch wanted him to do, hold the ball up and control possession. The Carroll penalty shout was a close call—he received some sort of push by Sanchez but clearly play acted his fall, looking for the decision. The disappointment was less how Spurs played the final minutes and more that Aurier had put them in that position. The pleasure is getting a measure of revenge for the late loss to the Hammers spiking our title chase, though of course it is more of a media creation since we were never catching Chelsea anyway. Vertonghen had a particularly strong game today, as did Aurier but for his final act. And Dele continues to grow into the season, showing more form each week. And if there is a London derby at hand, then Harry Kane will score goals. On to Cyprus and let’s hope this marvelous away form continues.
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