Spurs vs West Ham is up next for us, so we look at how opponents have had success against Slaven Bilic’s away day loving side.
The Hammers have been one of the surprises of the season. Slaven Bilic has taken over and installed creativity and speed to replace the previous reliance on crossing. This has seen them become much more of a counter attacking threat and their away day record has improved immensely. With a short trip across London for Spurs vs West Ham how do you go about dealing with them?
Where West Ham concede chances
West Ham have had a good start to the season. Victories on the road at Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Crystal Palace have seen them tough to beat on their travels. However, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been clues of how to unlock what has been a well-oiled machine. There are three areas that the Hammers have conceded chances in.
Getting on the centre backs
West Ham have size and strength in the centre back position, but not speed. This has left them vulnerable against teams that can either transfer the ball quickly from back to front or that can swiftly counter attack against them. The reason being that West Ham often have their full backs playing high and their centre backs cant cover the increased space when transition times are cut down.
Everton’s goal against the Hammers in their last match, although at home, showcased this perfectly. Gerard Deulofeu’s quick pass forward split the centre backs, allowing Romelu Lukaku, who has good but not blazing speed, to nip in-between them and score.
On the road and Watford, the only team to beat West Ham on their travels, did something very similar. The Hornets play with two men up and like to quickly hit Troy Deeney with passes forward that Odion Ighalo can work off and run on to. This drags one centre back out, leaving the other to cover more space in-behind.
Here the ball was quickly played up to Deeney, pulling centre back James Collins out. Ighalo immediately races off towards the middle and Deeney spins to hit the run of Ikechi Anya.
Anya’s pull back was whiffed on by James Tomkins, which allowed the ball to roll straight to Ighalo to finish. This miscue by Tomkins highlighted another point that we’ll look at in a minute.
Later in the game and Ighalo should’ve wrapped the points up for good, as the ball was played up quickly to Deeney once more. This sucked both centre backs in, allowing him to flick it in to Ighalo’s path for a 1v1 chance.
Moving the ball quickly forward, exposing the centre back’s inability to cover the open space left by the full backs going forward, should be a priority in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs West Ham this Sunday. This could be for Harry Kane to run on to, such as the chance he had that put him clean through at home to Everton. It could also be from Kane coming short and others bursting past him to take the secondary pass.
Taking advantage of errors
Watford’s goal looked at above showed another tendency that has loitered in West Ham games this season, errors.
Andy Carroll dithered on the ball in his own penalty area when he had an age to clear, but was then stripped of it on the Hornets’ opener. James Tomkins then failed to clear Ikechi Anya’s pull back in a what finished as a 2-0 Watford win. Both goals could’ve been stopped, but were massively aided by defensive miscues.
The only other team to take points off the Hammers on their travels were Sunderland in their 2-2 draw. The Black Cats raced in to a 2-0 lead, the second coming from an errant pass from Dimitri Payet. This saw the ball end up with Yann M’Vila who put Jeremain Lens in to finish. The passage of play highlighted the error, but also the quick pass forward to another runner through the centre backs.
The Hammers lead the Premier League in goals given away from miscues and it has been a problem for them this season. They’ve conceded seven times from their own mistakes and so any errors in the game on Sunday need to be taken advantage of.
It’s strange to see a West Ham side that are vulnerable at set pieces, maybe this is because previous coach Sam Allardyce was such a stickler for them. Allardyce not only coaches his sides to be effective at set pieces, but also in defending them.
Chelsea, Sunderland and Watford have all scored from free kicks or corners against West Ham this season and Crystal Palace converted a penalty. The problem has often been in coverage, with markers losing their men, as was the case on Sunderland’s free kick opener in their 2-2 draw.
Later in that game and John O’Shea also had a header cleared off the line from a corner. He darted towards the front edge of the six-yard box in a routine reminiscent of the one we run with Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld. The near post area of the six-yard box is left open for two players to charge towards and meet the incoming ball. Don’t be surprised to see this routine be effective in Spurs vs West Ham on Sunday.
I’ve often talked on here about how teams playing a diamond formation have had success against us. It gets four men in the middle of the park to counteract against our plethora of players that drift in to the centre.
Slaven Bilic started off this season playing a diamond system in away matches and it did two things. It firstly gave his centre backs, that recently have been exposed, increased protection. Secondly, it gave him more control of the midfield with three ball winners that allowed Dimitri Payet to have the freedom to influence games.
Recently Bilic has gone away from that system, opting to have two fast runners off Andy Carroll. It has been effective with better performances from Manuel Lanzini and Victor Moses. However, the consequence of including more attacking players has left their centre backs increasingly exposed.
Seeing how Bilic’s side line-up will be a point to watch for. He could well stay with his current set up of a big central striker and speedy players off him. However, maybe he has identified that a diamond system gives us trouble and will opt for that?
Dealing with Andy Carroll
Whatever system Slaven Bilic plays, we will have to deal with the size and aerial strength of Andy Carroll.
For all of the good things our defence has done this season, we have been prone to conceding opportunities to strong aerial players. Oliver Giroud highlighted that in Arsenal 1-1 Spurs the other week, a timely reminder prior to taking on the Premier League’s most difficult man to play against in the air.
Dealing with Carroll has seen us and other teams try a number of approaches. Three central defenders has been one method, another is to play a centre back at full back. AVB used to do this against Andy Carroll by having Jan Vertonghen at left back to get three centre backs on the field against him and it was effective.
Mauricio Pochettino has the choice of a more physical presence in Kevin Wimmer, but he may have to instruct Eric Dier to play much deeper. Having Dier pick up Carroll would allow Alderweireld and Vertonghen to hoover up the second balls. This would give us more men to stop the effectiveness of runners like Lanzini, Moses and Zarate off the big man.
Spurs vs West Ham outlook
The Hammers have been effective on their travels, but missing a key man like Dimitri Payet will slow them down here. Slaven Bilic’s choice of formation will be integral to how open the game is and the amount of cover he is prepared to give his recently vulnerable centre backs. We need to get some attacking speed on the field to run off Harry Kane, which will see the return of Son Heung-Min as a vital one.
Spurs vs West Ham prediction: Spurs 2-1 West Ham.
Spurs vs West Ham betting
Get On: Betfair are offering Spurs to win at 4/1 for new accounts only. You can get on that here.
If you already have an account with Betfair then here are some other tips for you:
– Spurs to win at 4/7 with Bet Victor.
– Son Heung-Min anytime goal: 13/8 with Betfair.
– HT/FT: Draw/Spurs at 4/1 with Bet Victor.