Christian Eriksen scores a goal during West Ham 2-3 Spurs in the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

West Ham 2-3 Spurs: turnovers, transitions and wide attacks

Tottenham took advantage of turnovers to launch speedy transitions that attacked the sides of the Hammers three centre backs as it finished West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Catching up on a few games. Spurs won an intensely hard fought London derby with West Ham by ruthlessly punishing sloppy turnovers. Once the ball was back in our possession, quick breaks exposed the sides of the Hammers’ back three. A red card for Serge Aurier made the game more uncomfortable than it should’ve been, as it ended West Ham 2-3 Spurs at the London Stadium.

West Ham’s quick breaks

The first 27 minutes were played to a similar pattern. Spurs had control of the ball, but West Ham was the more dangerous team. Deploying a front three of Michail Antonio, Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic, the Hammers looked for long passes towards them at every opportunity.

Antonio was physically stronger and quicker than Ben Davies. Arnautovic drifted with guile to expose the errant defensive positioning of Serge Aurier. Hernandez was always looking to dive off the shoulder of our back three, but was frequently caught offside.

The tactic had its merits and created the game’s first opportunity. Arnautovic raced beyond Serge Aurier, but was denied by a last ditch sliding tackle by the Ivorian as he recovered in the penalty area.

The Hammers looked dangerous, but their potency went with Michail Antonio. Ironically injuring himself during one of his bursts in-behind that brought Hugo Lloris racing from his line to clear.

Andy Carroll replaced Antonio and West Ham’s quick balls in-behind turned in to long passes up for the big man.

Spurs breaking the tentative press

West Ham conceded a lot of possession through their inability to neither commit to a press nor drop off and play on the counter. Slaven Bilic’s team tentatively pressed through their front three, but left acres of space behind them as the rest of the team dropped off. A large area was thus created for his midfield to cover, which was often caught square. Space therefore opened up between the lines.

Alli and Eriksen enjoy space between stretched lines during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Alli and Eriksen enjoy space between stretched lines.

Christian Eriksen was naturally the main benefactor of this, but Dele Alli equally enjoyed space to roam. Fascinatingly, Moussa Sissoko often joined the pairing. The Frenchman played well in advance of defensive midfield partner Eric Dier.

Moussa Sissoko played much higher up than Eric Dier during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Moussa Sissoko played much higher up than Eric Dier.

Sissoko took up good positions, but as frequently is the case, his touch let him down. However, Sissoko was responsible for our most pertinent move before taking the lead. His neat pass sprung Serge Aurier to put a devilish cross in for Harry Kane. Unfortunately, a deflection took the ball marginally behind Kane who was flagged offside.

Aurier had got himself beyond the West Ham wingback and down the side of their three centre backs. The is ploy would serve us well as it lead to two quick goal, both in transition from poor play by Andy Carroll.

Spurs punish Andy Carroll errors

Spurs had been enjoying space between the lines from West Ham’s tentative press. Two Andy Carroll errors allowed Tottenham to use these spaces to rapidly attack the sides of the Hammers three centre backs.

A poor decision by Carroll to try a difficult pass on the turn presented Christian Eriksen with acres of room to pick his pass. Dele Alli’s streaking run down the sides of the centre backs was his target. Dele then had the easy task of squaring for Harry Kane to nod home and make it 1-0.

Eriksen in space finds Dele Alli's run during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Eriksen in space finds Dele Alli’s run.

Carroll then rather lackadaisically allowed Jan Vertonghen to nip in front of him, win the ball and start a quick break. Christen Eriksen was once more between the lines to hoover up possession and release Vertonghen’s break down the outside.

Eriksen between the lines sets Vertonghen away during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Eriksen between the lines sets Vertonghen away.

Right-sided centre back Jose Fonte was drawn over by Vertonghen’s run up the line. Skipping past him then pulled Winston Reid out from the centre. Dele Alli once more made a run in-behind, which Vertonghen found.

Vertonghen draws 2 CBs to play in Dele's run during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Vertonghen draws 2 CBs to play in Dele’s run.

Dele’s run pulled the last remaining centre back, Angel Ogbonna, towards him. As Joe Hart rushed from his line, Dele tried to flick the ball past him. However, Hart’s save served up a big, juicy rebound that Harry Kane made no mistake with to slot in to an empty net. West Ham 0-2 Spurs.

Dele and Eriksen 1-2 punch

Andy Carroll’s errors aside, the two main protagonists on our first two goals were Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. Dele exposed the Hammers with his runs down the sides of the centre backs. Christian Eriksen was equally involved with his neat passing from spaces between the lines.

Spurs added a third with these two once more fulfilling these roles. Dele Alli earned a free kick from once more dribbling at the outside centre back, as Jose Fonte fouled him.

Drawn out from the back three, Jose Fonte fouls Dele Alli during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Drawn out from the back three, Jose Fonte fouls Dele Alli.

In spite of Harry Kane thumping the ensuing dead ball against the post, Christian Eriksen was in acres of space to return the resulting deflected cross in to the net.

Wide open Eriksen is first to the deflected cross during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Wide open Eriksen is first to the deflected cross.

West Ham set pieces

West Ham had been knocked on the back foot, but still retained a threat from set pieces. This avenue would prove to be their way back in to the match.

Spurs use a hybrid system to defend corners of three zonal markers across the six-yard box and man-to-man defending on the edge of the area. The system was tweaked here to be man-to-man. Was this to contain West Ham’s size and the threat of Andy Carroll or has Pochettino reconsidered his system?

Whatever the answer, Jose Fonte ran his marker, Eric Dier, in to Harry Kane. Fonte had the split second he needed to flick the ball on before Dele Alli could react. At the far post, Moussa Sissoko, who had been man marking Javier Hernandez, let the diminutive striker drift off him for an easy header in to the gaping net. Suddenly it was West Ham 1-3 Spurs and the game was set for another twist.

Dier loses Fonte. Sissoko loses Hernandez who scores a goal during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Dier loses Fonte. Sissoko loses Hernandez who scores.

Serge Aurier sees red

Making his Premier League debut, Serge Aurier was having a mixed bag of a match. Dangerous in attack, but often out of place defensively. Aurier’s errant positioning had seen a number of West Ham’s quick balls in-behind towards the spaces he had left. Aurier was also lucky not to concede a penalty for a dubious handball in the area.

However, it was Aurier’s rash challenges that would make this game tighter than it should’ve been. Often too quick to go to ground had seen the Ivorian commit a number of fouls. However, it would be a lazy barge on Andy Carroll and then an unnecessary sliding tackle from behind on the big man that saw Aurier sent off.

Move and counter move

Down to ten men saw both managers make changes as Bilic attacked and Pochettino responded. Arthur Masuaku was sent on to double up on the left with Aaron Cresswell against unnatural wingback Moussa Sissoko. Kieran Trippier was therefore introduced to for the Frenchman. Harry Winks was also then sent on to offer better defensive help on this side than Christian Eriksen was supplying.

In spite of Pochettino’s defensive moves, Slaven Bilic’s plan to attack the left wing saw the score pulled back to West Ham 2-3 Spurs. A raking ball out to Cresswell drew Kieran Trippier with him. Arthur Masuaku then tore past Harry Winks in to the space created and whipped in a cross.

Cresswell draws Trippier leaving Masuaku vs Winks during West Ham 2-3 Spurs.

Cresswell draws Trippier leaving Masuaku vs Winks.

In the centre, Ben Davies had unfortunately been left marking both Andy Carroll and Cheikhou Kouyaté. Carroll had been drifting on to the smaller Davies for much of the half. Kouyaté was left with space to run and powered in a header before Davies could get to him and challenge. Suddenly it was West Ham 2-3 Spurs and a commanding lead had almost been sacrificed.

However, Spurs did well to stifle the flow of the game and run down the clock. The introduction of Fernando Llorente gave the hold up presence that had previously been lacking. Llorente’s size and strength allowed both Dele Alli and Harry Winks to move off him and towards the corners. Six minutes of injury time was therefore easily navigated and the match ended West Ham 2-3 Spurs to the delight of the travelling fans.

West Ham 2-3 Spurs overall

In terms of performance, this was a really up and down game. The first 30 minutes saw Spurs controlling without being particularly hard-hitting or cutting the Hammers open. The ensuing 30 minutes saw us ruthlessly capitalising on Andy Carroll’s errors and impressively racing to a three-goal cushion. However, the final 30 saw us lose focus, a goal and then a player. The match thus became much harder than it really should’ve been.

Final score: West Ham 2-3 Spurs.
MOTM: Christian Eriksen.

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14 Responses to West Ham 2-3 Spurs: turnovers, transitions and wide attacks

  1. Matt 9th October 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    Good to see you back. As you said, Aurier a real mixed bag and Llorente did what we expected/need. What do you make of Sanchez? I am very encouraged by his strength and speed and the surprise (to me anyway) that he’s playing centre (not RHS). It’s liberated Toby and Verts to be even more effective in possession.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th October 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Thanks Matt, good to be back. I really like Sanchez. I too was curious to see where Poch would use him, but I like him in the centre to free up Toby more to rake those passes from right to left or, as in the APOEL game, in to Kane’s feet for a goal. Sanchez has started well. He’s still adjusting to the speed of the game here, as you can see he gets his position slightly wrong and then he’s lunging or stretching to adjust or recover. He does have exceptional recovery speed though and a real sense of timing to his tackling, which bodes really well. He was a bit naive to initially try and out strength Andy Carroll though. I think he was a bit impetious to prove a point as he is a front foot defender, but after Carroll knocked him about he soon learnt that the Premier League is a step up from Holland/Mexico/Colombia and that he can’t always use force against an opponent. Very encouraging signs though.

  2. Blimey 9th October 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    Not a single mention of Harry Kane being offside for the pivotal first goal…..???

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th October 2017 at 10:30 pm #

      Behind the ball when it’s played = onside

  3. Sheffield Spur 9th October 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    Welcome back Mark. Against Everton, I remember Ronald Koeman saying he didn’t expect Spurs to play a diamond in front of a back 3/5 and I wonder if the same formation was adopted against West Ham. This would explain why Sissoko found himself in more advanced positions. From what I could see Sissoko was on the right side of the diamond and maybe this is his best position. If that’s right, it will be interesting to see if Poch reverts to a more othodox defensive midfield pairing once Wanyama, or a refreshed Dembele, is available again.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th October 2017 at 11:46 pm #

      It’s an interesting concept as the diamond is usually played in a 4-4-2 format or sometimes 4-3-3 formation. With a back 3 it will certainly overload the centre of the pitch, which is the objective of Poch’s philosophy. He always wants an extra body in central midfield and maybe with so many teams now playing a back three, this could be his way of achieving it as the opposition’s third centre back can cancel out Poch’s additional midfielder now when we play a back four.

      Sissoko may well have been on the right of it and having Dele at the top allows him to continue to run off Kane as he does so well.

      Definitely some food for thought and something to watch for when the injured guys return.

  4. Chas 10th October 2017 at 12:43 am #

    Great to have you back, Mark! I’m wondering oif you caught the two International games and Southgate’s obvious problems with the cloned midfielders’ mindsets.
    Made Harry Winks look a worldbeater – and I’m not putting him down when saying that.
    Far from it!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th October 2017 at 3:09 pm #

      From what i heard, I was fortunate enough to miss the two international games. Sounded like they were extremely arduous watching?

  5. Erik Zen 10th October 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Welcome back Mark!

    As the relentless international drudgery comes to an end… In a few days anyway. And the media find more and more ways to send Harry to Madrid. Meanwhile Jan and Chris both showed their class, as well as the little Iniesta.

    Spurs have been astonishingly sharp with finishing-to-chance ratio recently. I do worry that requires a monster like Kane for it to function. Alli and Son haven’t yet stepped up with goal scoring, but they hardly have room at the moment.

    Defensive flaws have been shown that will be exposed by the ruthless attacks: City, United, Pool (and as Chelsea did already) – oh and Real Madrid – but we should be able to put most other teams away playing like this.

    Aurier was all over the place against West Ham but it was only his first game. I’m sure Poch will sprinkle his magic fullback dust on him and he’ll be the best right back in the PL before long. I think he will play in all the games against lightning quick opponents. Davies is getting better and better but still can’t avoid his lack of pace.

    Still hope against hope that we might get Lamela back one day. I think he provides a different option from anyone else with his combo of battling tenacity and quick creative passing.

    Thanks for the analysis look forward for the rest of your catchup ;)

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th October 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      Thanks Erik Zen, good to be back. Yes we have been extremely efficient in front of goal recently. APOEL saw us score three from four on target and four from seven on target against Huddersfield. We certainly are deadly at the minute, but if we are ever without Harry Kane at anytime, a real concern given Dele and Son’s lean spells!

      We have looked a bit shaky at times defensively, but that seems to be due to bedding Sanchez and Aurier in. There was always going to be a period of transition whilst they learn the system and the team gets used to them. Aurier is in a much more dynamic role so his lapses will be more apparent, but Sanchez is also sometimes out of sync with Toby and Jan. I’m looking forward to these next run of games given the opposition we’ll be facing to see just how much work needs to be done with them.

  6. Jerry 10th October 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    Fascinating as always, thank you Mark

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th October 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      You’re welcome, Jerry.

  7. MurphyN 11th October 2017 at 12:19 am #

    Welcome back!
    Wonder if that hybrid position Sissoko is in might suit a returning Lamela?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 11th October 2017 at 9:17 am #

      Very good point. I would say yes it will. Lamela likes to cut off the wing in to those type of positions, so the only question would be could he do it starting here rather than drifting in from wide?