Erik Lamela celebrates scoring the only goal during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

West Ham 0-1 Tottenham: exposing wide area weakness

Taking advantage of Felipe Anderson in the wide areas saw our Premier League clash finish West Ham 0-1 Tottenham at the London Stadium.

A gritty and gutsy performance saw a dogged Spurs side edge past a spirited West Ham. The positioning and movement of Erik Lamela proved the difference to score the only goal. However, it was taking advantage of Felipe Anderson’s tracking that saw the final score of West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Formation frustration

Mauricio Pochettino went for a very interesting 4-3-2-1 setup. Moussa Sissoko came in to midfield and played in a three chain with Eric Dier and Harry Winks. Ahead of the trio, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura buzzed around behind Harry Kane.

Pochettino likes to outnumber in the centre of the pitch. The formation seemed to be aimed at countering West Ham’s 4-1-4-1 where wide midfielders Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko aim to tuck in during the defensive phase.

Anderson and Yarmolenko pinch in to congest the middle during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Anderson and Yarmolenko pinch in to congest the middle.

The two systems counteracted each other during a very laboured first half. The centre of the pitch was often congested and therefore aiming to keep possession saw lots of backwards and sideways passing. A key area was the position of Erik Lamela. As can be seen in the image above, West Ham’s defensive shape leaves space on the outside, but also pockets around Declan Rice. Lamela filled these pockets well and was effective from them.

There were brief moments where each team was able to break the other’s system. Erik Lamela and Marco Arnautovic were key to making this happen.

Spurs expose Felipe Anderson

The positioning of Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura off Harry Kane meant that they could fill the inside channels in the space around Declan Rice. However, the pair was most effective when overloading West Ham’s full backs. As Yarmolenko and Anderson were initially trying to tuck in and then shuttle out to help their full backs, the space was here if Spurs moved the ball quickly enough.

The defensive tracking of Felipe Anderson has been a weak point of West Ham this season. Inspiring offensively, Anderson is slow to recognise danger and therefore allows opponents space.

Erik Lamela was the main beneficiary of this during a first half where he utilised this freedom often. Tottenham took the lead as a result.

Anderson tracking lacking

Aaron Cresswell was being particularly aggressive against Kieran Trippier. Our right back is often an offensive outlet and a provider of key passes. Cresswell seemed intent on pushing him back to stop him getting forwards.

The movement of Cresswell did allow our players in-behind. Felipe Anderson was often slow to cover and it proved decisive in a ten-minute spell at the end of the first half.

Cresswell high as Anderson can't cover Sissoko's run during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Cresswell high as Anderson can’t cover Sissoko’s run.

Cresswell went to stop Trippier, but a neat one-two with Moussa Sissoko set him free. Anderson was slow to help and then overran the coverage. Sissoko jinked back inside and delivered the perfect cross for Erik Lamela to head home.

Lamela’s run was also indicative of the space that was afforded around Declan Rice. Trippier’s pass in-behind Anderson gave Rice a decision to make of whether to close down Sissoko or stay with Lamela. Rice ended up in no man’s land, allowing Lamela to recognise this and steal in to the box before Pablo Zabaleta could get over.

Lamela signals for the ball as Rice is drawn in during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Lamela signals for the ball as Rice is drawn in.

Lamela cushioned the header home, West Ham 0-1 Tottenham and a lead from probing their defensive frailty.

The space behind Cresswell and Anderson’s slow cover afforded more opportunities.

Lamela danced in here to earn a free kick from Issa Diop. Two minutes after the goal and Spurs should’ve had a second. Lamela ran in to this space again and jinked past Anderson once more. He delivered a dangerous low cross. Lukas Fabianski could only palm the ball out. However, Davinson Sanchez couldn’t send it back in to the net, instead prodding it straight at the West Ham keeper.

Arnautovic vs Alderweireld

Tottenham had their avenue to goal. On the flip side, West Ham focussed on attacking the space around our left-sided centre back, Toby Alderweireld.

Jan Vertonghen has been a key miss and whoever has played left sided centre back hasn’t looked comfortable. West Ham sought to consistently attack this space through the runs of Marco Arnautovic.

The contest proved quite the duel. Alderweireld recovered brilliantly to make a sliding tackle from behind that stripped Arnautovic of the ball inside the penalty area.

Later in the first half and Alderweireld was at full stretch once again. This time he stopped Robert Snodgrass’ ball across the box reaching Arnautovic, as the striker had tried to run off Alderweireld once again.

The second half saw a real switch in attacking intent. West Ham pushed on their full backs and Spurs took up a 4-4-1-1 defensive shape to counter. However, this didn’t stop the Hammers’ full backs becoming effective. Aaron Cresswell stripped a soft Moussa Sissoko of the ball. His cross found Arnautovic leaping above Toby Alderweireld. Cat-like Hugo Lloris flew across his goal to deny the looping header with a long outstretched hand.

Spurs were able to quell a resurgent West Ham with possession, but the Arnautovic versus Alderweireld duel rumbled on. Two identical runs by Arnautovic in to the space off Alderweireld almost had the Hammers on level terms.

The first run was stopped by the offside the flag to deny a leveller. Arnautovic darted for the space beyond Alderweireld who was drawn out from the back line.

Arnautovic tries to sneak in behind Alderwerield but is offside to stop a goal during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Arnautovic tries to sneak in behind Alderwerield but is offside.

A carbon copy saw Alderweireld nutmegged this time as Arnautovic headed for the same space.

Holding off Davinson Sanchez saw Arnautovic get to the ball first. However, Hugo Lloris rapidly flying from his line denied the goal bound shot with another sensational save.

Arnautovic makes the run again, but is denied by Lloris' save to keep the score at West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Arnautovic makes the run again, but is denied by Lloris’ save.

After keeping the score at West Ham 0-1 Tottenham Hugo Lloris wasn’t done there. The resulting corner saw the World Cup winner come and confidently claim to relieve all the pressure and guide us through to the final whistle.

West Ham 0-1 Tottenham overall

Another game, another ugly win. The abundance of players trying to control the central midfield zone didn’t help the match. However, in pinching their wide midfielders in, West Ham gave up the space around their full backs to 1v1 match ups. On the most part, Zabaleta and Cresswell could control Davies and Tripper. However, once Anderson and Yarmolenko were required to help against Lamela and Moura, the opportunities came.

Erik Lamela was the master puppeteer in the first half, pulling the strings and involved in making and executing the key chances. Hugo Lloris was the star of the second as West Ham came back in to the match through exposing our weakness at left-sided centre back through the runs of Marco Arnautovic.

A final score of West Ham 0-1 Tottenham and a key three points. The performances remain average and a concern. However, winning ugly is a key component of every top team. Once we raise our level and kick in to gear then we have an excellent base position to work from.

Final score: West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.
MOTM: Hugo Lloris.

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22 Responses to West Ham 0-1 Tottenham: exposing wide area weakness

  1. Mark from Virginia 21st October 2018 at 3:49 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    This was an ugly but important win! Bringing Llorente on was a critical tactical move that I was hoping Poch would have started utilizing a few games ago. His hold up play was crucial in relieving pressure on the defense and in combination with Dembele was a major factor in closing the game out – at least that’s how I saw it.
    Lots of positives here, but I’m with you – the team seems to be lacking the sharp cutting edge needed to take on the likes of Man City. Hopefully their form will continue in a positive direction.
    Thanks for the write up.

    • YouShubes 21st October 2018 at 4:21 pm #

      Kane looked knackered… he best be allowed to rest for these pointless non nations league friendlies… Winks and Lamela really ringing that bell

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 21st October 2018 at 5:29 pm #

        For me, YouShubes, the Nations league is pretty pointless as well, especially if it means playing more games next summer. I’d have him pull out of the England squad with a thigh strain or back strain type complaint, which miraculously heals in 10 days.

        • YouShubes 21st October 2018 at 9:39 pm #

          As captain don’t think he can nor would want to…

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 21st October 2018 at 5:22 pm #

      Hi Mark. Llorente has his uses and in spite of not scoring, he does hold the ball up well. He really needs quicker goal scorers like Son and Moura flanking him to be an attacking threat. However here, it was no concidence that Poch went to him and Dembele to bring some presence in to the game when we needed it to move up the pitch.

      The return of Eriksen couldn’t have come at a better time. He really makes us tick and should raise the performance level. If only we could get Dele back to take some of the goal scoring burden off Kane.

      • YouShubes 21st October 2018 at 9:40 pm #

        Something we can try next week verus the hammers

  2. Matt 21st October 2018 at 5:36 pm #

    We have one of the most dangerous forward lines in EPL, we have speed (Moura, Son) and guile (Eriksen, Lamela, Alli) and world class No 9. We should play to our strengths and that’s not midfield, once we have the ball we need to move it much quicker to that front unit.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 21st October 2018 at 11:21 pm #

      We do, but the missing piece of the puzzle is Eriksen. Without him, we lack that genius who links it all together.

  3. Erik Zen 22nd October 2018 at 8:17 am #

    Loved this game! Many said it was unwatchable but I found it weirdly enthralling. We were smart and steely and showed class where it counted. Great analysis Mark.

    I’ve always been a Sissoko apologist and he showed what he’s good for here. He’s imposing, fast and tireless. A good presence to have on your side in an attritional, physical game. When he has a bit of confidence he can even pull off an outstanding assist…

    Lloris gave a perfect answer to that particular brand of Spurs fans who constantly criticise the World Cup winner and best THFC keeper in my lifetime. Lamela is a phenomenon and this is his season. Winks is warming up and Dier is looking a lot more solid.

    Naturally we tend to focus on frustrating injuries and Harry failing to score hat-tricks every week, but quietly a lot of the other pieces are coming together. When the Dane is back fully rested this could get quite interesting. COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd October 2018 at 10:43 am #

      This game was quite enthralling from a tactical point of view. There definitely should’ve been more than the one goal that is for sure!

      Sissoko could be a beast, but he is really jittery and nervous on the ball, so he always takes the safe backwards pass. Any confidence he did have has been destroyed. There was much of that in this game. Many safe backwards and sideways passes and the soft turnovers like the one that led to Lloris saving the Arnautovic header. You only had to watch the first minute of the match and see how he turned down a forward pass, then was pressured in to going backwards, invited pressure, dropped in to the back line to amend for his error and then had no idea of what to do, where to move or how to move out. That kind of sums his time up at Spurs for me.

      However, that brief spell when we scored was the Sissoko that can turn up and has done for France and when he was at Newcastle. The guy can cross a ball. His crossing stats at Newcastle were decent, but he doesn’t try it or attempt to get in to the positions enough. He can also dribble with pace and power, but his confidence is so fragile that he looks like a clumsy player with no control. I was happy he got the assist, but with him on the pitch it always feels like playing with the handbrake on. What’s more, without Eriksen buzzing around the place then we really need a player with more spark or dynamism to push the ball forward in his role.

      Lloris was great. He does have his weaknesses – near post shots and kicking – but he does save us so many times that he is a very good number one. That being said we do need to succession plan over the next 2-3 seasons. He is going to be 32 in December and the thing which separates him – speed off his line – will start to diminish by the time he is 35. Then he is a yard slow and doesn’t get to the balls that he is now. With good keepers hard to find – who can distribute the ball, handle, make saves and even play that sweeper role – we do need to start putting plans in to place and scouting now if we don’t see either Paulo Gazzaniga, Alfie Whiteman or Brandon Austin to be the solution.

      • Erik Zen 22nd October 2018 at 2:46 pm #

        Hopefully Sissoko will get some of that precious elixir of confidence back for us – at least while we still need to use him for reasons of rotation and purchase-phobia.

        Valid point re. succession for Hugo… No argument against planning ahead of course, just grates when some fans (not on this site) constantly bash him. All players have flaws but with keepers it’s clearly more noticeable and costly when they do make a mistake. And much harder to quantify how points HL has earned us which another keeper might have lost.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2018 at 10:05 am #

          I think that’s the thing with players like Sissoko and Janssen in that we need to sell them in order to free up overseas player spots in our squad. With them clogging up overseas player places then we need to sign home grown players or bring them through. A good run of form for Sissoko may convince a club to take him in January.

      • YouShubes 22nd October 2018 at 3:23 pm #

        Pickford maybe always did great with Sunderland vs us…or would you look to aim higher

        Sissoko does have a role as squad player/standby…. yes he is on huge wages but players want to play

        • Chss 22nd October 2018 at 4:39 pm #

          Is there something wrong with Gazzaniga being the Lloris replacement? From what I’ve seen, he’s every bit as good as Pickford and Man of the Match two out of three appearances isn’t shabby.
          And, arguably, that could have been three!

          • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2018 at 10:20 am #

            Gazzaniga has done quite well. He’s definitely cemented the number two spot behind Lloris for me. I like him and really need to see him play more in our system before handing him the gloves. Also, will he stick around as backup for another 2-3 years? I like his size and shot stopping. He’s also good on crosses and high balls. His distribution has been sound as well, which has been a big plus in the games he has stepped in to. My one concern is playing behind a high line, but he’s not really been tested on that in the games he’s played. Could he also be a number one that plays week in, week out? I think he has promise, but I really need to see more of him.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2018 at 10:10 am #

          I don’t really rate Pickford if i’m brutally honest, Shubes. I think that is why Everton got him and a lot of the bigger teams weren’t in for him. I think he’s a decent shot stopper, but he is undersized and often gets his positioning wrong. For Spurs, most importantly, he’s not quick off his line and he often stays back. Therefore, I wouldn’t be confident in putting him behind a high defensive line as a sweeper keeper. Maybe he’ll improve with age, as a number of keepers do, but I wouldn’t be in for him currently.

    • Luther 23rd October 2018 at 8:58 pm #

      About Lloris: I still don’t believe in him. Every keeper has good saving days even post-Guardiola Joe Hart.

      I insist that he is not right for Poch’s current system. He isn’t a great passer and that’s not really going to change. The constant backpasses to him often highlight that.

      The consistent high profile errors especially against Man-City type teams (Barca and Man-City) are an unconvincing pattern.He’s made a direct error contributing to a goal against this type of team ever since Feb 2016.

      & to those who choose to highlight his captain armband for country, my question is: Had you taken him out of the starting 11 for France in the semis and final, would France not have lifted the cup? I still think they would.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th October 2018 at 12:03 pm #

        Try finding a good passing and distributing goalkeeper who is fast enough to play behind a high defensive line that isn’t already at top club and would come to Spurs. It’s not easy and so Lloris is a very good coup for us at the minute. My personal list has Freddie Woodman at the top of it, but he is still 21 and would require a 1-2 years of work – perfect to succeed Lloris in my opinion and gettable with his contract expiring at Newcastle in June 2020.

  4. Dr JAB 23rd October 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Mark

    Many thanks for all your reports on the matches. This also goes back to the World Cup and the preseason before we kicked off 18-19.

    Much of your analysis has focused recently on the various formations that we have used, From not having a planB from a long time ago to the current plethora of permutations, I thought that Poch was once quoted as saying that the formation was not important – what happened on the pitch was. And yet we have seen him experiment extensively with how the team is set up – not only from the kick off, but also as the game unfolds. Why do you this this is? Is this dependent on availability of players, who we are playing or the state of the game.

    Do you think Poch has a sense of his true first XI when all are available and the best formation to execute with them?

    The absence of Jan is a blow and we do not appear to have a left sided CB replacement with the 3 other main operatives TA, ED and DS all right sided. Does Foyt operate here and if not is he not excess to needs?

    Finally NewsNow and others spend excessive space on who we should purchase to get us to their site for the ads. Regarding adding to the squad I could not understand why Spurs spent so much time pursuing Grealish with all his personal baggage when the best alternative was Maddison who could be the understudy for Erikson, which was the position we needed most and satisfied the English criteria for our squad. We must have known about him when we sent mini Messi to Norwich

    I managed to get to London in August and took a trip to WHL2. Impressed by the size and scope compared to its predecessor but concerned by its state of completion which has played out all over the press.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th October 2018 at 11:55 am #

      Hi Dr Jab,
      I hadn’t heard Poch say this, but given how media savvy he is, i would expect that he is just trying to throw Journos off and not then have tons of questions about formations which then become more rigid than what the formation actually is. By that i mean that all managers have a base formation, but it changes depending on the state of play and position of the ball. ie we can be 4-2-3-1 with the ball, but 4-4-2 without it – so an offensive and defensive shape. It can then fluctuate during possession, like the simple case of a defensive midfielder dropping in to the back line to create a back three to move the ball out. Therefore a 4-2-3-1 may thus briefly become a 3-1-3-1 in this state of the game. It goes on and on and probably why Poch deflected the question so as not to get in to a ton of semantics with journos.

      Curiously, I tweeted an interesting video the other day from Marcelo Bielsa presenting how a 4-4-2 diamond can become a 3-1-3-3 which may have relevance for our ongoing formation twists and maybe where Poch is heading with this formation that we’ve seen. I think we can safely say from all of the setups that we’ve seen – both to start and moved to in-game – that Poch does base a great deal of emphasis on the formation and how we function within it. And yes i do think he knows his best team and formation when everyone is fit.

      The left-sided centre back is a problem. Foyth is a right-sided centre backs, so it really only leaves Davies who can function here and he is only really adept at playing on the left side of a three. Jan being out does create issues. Toby is our best player to fill in, but even he isn’t comfortable here.

      I was surprised we weren’t in for Maddison too. For me he is a better player than Grealish and had more upside. Maybe the prospect of guaranteed starts at Leicester was more appealing to him than being a rotation option? Fair play if that was the case.

      Hugely excited by the stadium and hope you are back to visit once it is open for business. We have really shot ourselves in the foot regarding unrealistic completion times and then the poor communication as a result. Projects this big always run over budget – which hopefully we have accounted for. But they always run over time due to complications as well. Any stadium build will tell you that there needs to be contingency time for unforeseen issues. Any decent contractor will know that and will have advised accordingly. Maybe Levy didn’t listen due to the NFL contract and corresponding games – which are now screwing up the Wembley pitch prior to City’s visit!

  5. Chu2ks 24th October 2018 at 4:28 pm #

    Excellent analysis as always, Mark. I still feel, and debate with a lot of fellow Spurs fans on the forums, that our core needed a break AND a pre-season – this is the first time under Poch that they didn’t even play one. I feel it’s evident (plus I think our kit is unlucky for stylish play, though I’m in the minority with that assertion), and that’s why we needed one or two fresh faces in the summer.
    That ship has sailed, and we’ve coped admirably, though without our past domination and beautiful play, a credit to Poch who they said was one-dimensional, but hey! I wanted to know what your thoughts were on Bradley Dack being an Eriksen understudy/sub…In a game like this, I feel he could have been influential. I’ve been following him since his Gillingham days, and I’m happy at the transfer links to us. I would take him over Grealish, but is it sad that I want both in January?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 25th October 2018 at 5:03 pm #

      Hi Chu2ks, we are suffering, like some other teams, with the lack of a preseason and appropriate rest. A couple of fresh faces may have solved that but we can’t bring in until we ship some out. The Grealish move was on the table with him being a homegrown player. However, we need to ship out the likes of Sissoko, Janssen and Llorente who are clogging up valuable overseas player places, which are limited to a maximum of 17 in our squad.

      I haven’t seen much of Bradley Dack, but i’ll try and catch a few Blackburn games after the links with him the other day. He would fit in the squad under the homegrown rule so again makes sense if we are unable to ship out the overseas dead wood in January.