Is there such a thing as a frustrating win away at West Ham?
If so, we came very close to it today.
The starting lineups didn’t throw up much of a surprise. A back 3 has become very fashionable in the Premier League these days, even if you don’t necessarily have the right players for the system (more on that later). I wrote a piece last week complaining that the back 3 plus Eric Dier made us too defensive at Swansea, but I was sure Pochettino would stick with it this week, as West Ham had no choice but to attack us, or face revolt from their own fans.
The game started poorly. The first 30 minutes were slow and there wasn’t much creativity from either side. We looked like we were possibly going to struggle for ideas again, until Andy Carroll decided that Eriksen needed to have the ball 35 yards out. 1-0.
Once we went 1-0 up, I was absolutely convinced that we would win. Easier to say that now of course, but our trouble has been breaking teams down, and with West Ham even more in need to come out and attack at us, I thought we would just plain be too good for them.
That is pretty much exactly what was happening until Serge Aurier did something daft, and being on a yellow card already, decided to tackle Andy Carroll from behind, in their half. Christ know what he was thinking, maybe this is the type of scenario that meant PSG were happy to get rid of him? Who knows, we shouldn’t be too harsh on him already, but my natural resting state is pessimism and misery so I will reserve my right to judge him.
I was baffled by the decision of Pochettino to take off Eriksen instead of Alli to bring Trippier on. Alli can be lazy from time to time, and today he was having a poor game in general. I also would have been tempted to bring on Son as his pace could have caused problems on the counter-attack as they were pushing forward.
All in all, we have to be pleased that we have 3 away wins out of 3, and beat West Ham on their own patch. Even a 1-0 with a goal scrapping in off someone’s arse in the 96th minute is a fine way to beat West Ham away. It was just a shame today that the gloss was taken off the victory by conceding two headed goals and getting the red card.
Regarding West Ham. What in god’s name is Bilic doing playing Hernandez and Carroll, and not using them both as centre forwards? As mentioned above, there are a couple of obsessions with Premier League managers at the moment. One is to play 3 at the back, even if you don’t have the necessary players to make it work. Does Zabaleta have the energy these days to be up and down the right wing all game? Good player, but I don’t think so. And this leads me nicely on to the second Obsession. Square pegs and round holes.
Did no one learn anything from Leicester City winning the Premier League? The fashion was 4-2-3-1, possession based football, expensive foreign exports with “inho” on the end of their name. They went 4-4-2, let the other team have the ball and hit them on the break. Why be ashamed of it, Marc Albrighton now has a Premier League winner’s medal because of it.
However, Bilic decided (admittedly after having to change because of an injury) to not use Hernandez and Carroll as an old fashioned big man/little man strike partnership, and use Hernandez on the right. I don’t know about anyone else, but there wasn’t a single West Ham player that frightened me when they got the ball. But I would have been worried with balls being smashed up to Carroll for Hernandez to knock in flick downs.
So I don’t think we were lucky as such. Certainly lucky that we have one of the best 2 or 3 strikers in the Premier League. And Lucky that West Ham decided to try and out-play us, rather than win ugly.
Watch the Spurs fans go mental after Eriksen scores the winner at West Ham
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