Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 West Ham United
Park Lane – 6pm – Matchday…
I’ve always found the ten-minute stroll from Northumberland Park to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as one of the most atmospheric in football. The air engulfed with a pungent scent of the burger stalls – those trading their merchandise hoping to hook excited and expectant fans making their way towards the turnstile. Above all, today is derby day. Emotions are running high with anxiety and tension – Some have stopped at a nearby watering hole, either to calm their nerves or fuel the flames – But tonight, nothing!
It’s difficult to believe bitter rivals, Spurs and West Ham – both underachieving by their own admissions – are about to lock horns in a fixture of substantial significance.
The eerie approach provides an insight into football during tormented times. The fans are an integral ingredient. Those of us fortunate enough describe what we see and hear from the press box – but without the enthused rush of adrenaline provided by those in the stands, the whole process seems quite exhausting.
But we have in front of us a game which is vitally important to both tribes. David Moyes called upon his flair players to step up as the threat of relegation loomed large overhead: “Sometimes it takes an individual player to make the difference and this is why we’d like a Felipe Anderson, a Michail Antonio or a Manuel Lanzini to be that for us and be really important because they’re the players who we need to make the difference,” he explained.
Meanwhile, opposite number, Jose Mourinho, insisted intensity remained, despite the current circumstances: “Independent of points, ambitions, needs, independent of that, it’s a London derby, it’s Tottenham against West Ham, and that always means something, the Spurs chief added.
A concoction of Eric Dier and Moussa Sissoko doused an early threat posed by Mark Noble. Indeed, perhaps with criticism still ringing following Saturday’s defeat to Wolves, West Ham made the brighter start.
Lucas Moura warmed the palms of Lukasz Fabianski with a fizzing strike from distance, while Harry Kane also tested the Polish stopper as Spurs – awkward in the initial stages – indicated a little more intent.
Kane and the returning Dele were too high as Tottenham started dictating with purpose.
A minute before the interval, the Lilywhites thought they’d snatched the lead. Heung-Min Son supplied an emphatic right-footed finish – VAR ruling the South Korean a whisker off-side. Soon after, Spurs passed up another opportunity. Lucas Moura dragging wide after a raid down the left.
Dier wasn’t far away, firing the wrong side of an upright after the Hammers rearguard had backed off and Spurs again posed the question immediately after the restart. However, the home side survived a scare – Fornals scuffing wide from a great position after Jarrod Bowen had fashioned an opening.
Kane blazed over, then sent another effort wide as Tottenham’s wastefulness again featured. Antonio unable to make them pay when the visitors broke swiftly on the hour.
But then a stroke of fortune for the hosts. Giovani Lo Celso’s flag-kick came off the unlucky Tomas Soucek – Fabianski wrong-footed – Tottenham in front.
Substitute, Felipe Anderson had Hugo Lloris scampering, while Bowen clipped an upright as West Ham searched for a route back into the contest. But with the wind in their sails, it was Spurs who doubled their advantage through a familiar source. Son sent Kane clear – the England skipper beating Fabianski with aplomb to all but seal the points.
The gap – though reduced – remains significant to Spurs. West Ham’s position – onminius, at best!
Spurs return to Premier League action on Thursday, July 2 when they take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (6 pm). Meanwhile, a day previous, West Ham United take on Chelsea at the London Stadium (8:15pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Serge Aurier, Davinson Sánchez, Eric Dier, Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli (Erik Lamela 59’), Lucas Moura (Steven Bergwijn 71’), Giovani Lo Celso, Heung-Min Son (Harry Winks 86’), Harry Kane Subs not used: Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Ryan Sessegnon, Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Tangauy Ndombele, Gedson Fernandes
Booked: Harry Kane (foul), Ben Davies (foul)
Goals: Tomas Soucek (own-goal) 64’, Harry Kane 82’
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Fabian Balbuena, Issa Diop, Aaron Creswell, Mark Noble (capt) (Felipe Anderson 70’), Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals (Manuel Lanzini 70’) Subs not used: Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Anglo Ogbonna, Albian Ajeti, Xande Silva, Darren Randolph (GK), Ben Johnson
Booked: Pablo Fornals (foul), Mark Noble (foul)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Harry Lennard and Dan Robathan
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper
Reaction to follow…