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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.