|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Érik Lamela the star as Tottenham hold on for narrow win at West Ham
David Hytner at the London Stadium
Date Published Sat 20 Oct 201817.19 BST
Tottenham’s best start to a Premier League season goes on, even if they continue to give the impression they have yet to hit their stride. They were the better team and had the best player on show in Érik Lamela, whose cute first-half header proved the difference.
But it was not plain sailing, with West Ham digging deep in the second half, playing with greater intensity and advertising the equaliser on three occasions through Marko Arnautovic. Yet the striker could not find a way past Hugo Lloris.
One thing was clear. It is a good sign for Mauricio Pochettino that Spurs are winning without dazzling. The manager spoke afterwards of the obstacles that he and the club have had to face, some of them linked to the delayed White Hart Lane rebuild. They are finding various ways to keep going and are flying under the radar somewhat while doing so.
This was the start of a run of seven games in 21 days, during which Tottenham will need all of their powers of endurance. They resume on Wednesday at PSV Eindhoven in a must-win Champions League tie but here, Pochettino could bask in a hard-fought success.
“It’s not a problem to me if the people don’t want to give us credit,” Pochettino said, in response to a question about his club’s title-winning prospects. “The most important thing is to win games and manage a lot of circumstances, which are not ideal. We suffered in the end but this was an amazing victory.”
Lamela is not an automatic selection – this was his first Premier League start of the season – but he is becoming increasingly influential and has five goals from eight appearances in all competitions. He caught the eye with his flair and acceleration, not to mention his industry. “He is more mature, more relaxed in front of goal,” Pochettino said.
West Ham consider Tottenham as their biggest grudge game, even if the feeling is not mutual. It did not feel like a big match, with the atmosphere subdued for long spells. As has been endlessly discussed and lamented, the London Stadium is not the cauldron Upton Park once was. After failing to show up in the first half, West Ham did push after the break but with Lloris suppressing Arnautovic, it was not a day for them to remember.
Tottenham flickered during a slow-burning start, with Moussa Sissoko watching a deflected effort loop off target and Harry Kane denied by an Issa Diop slide-tackle after Lucas Moura’s through-ball.
Sissoko played well on the right of Pochettino’s midfield three and he produced the moment of the match when he jinked inside Felipe Anderson and crossed with his left foot for Lamela to break the deadlock. The technique was wonderful – not something that has been said too often of Sissoko – and he would receive a great ovation when he was substituted in the last minute.
Tottenham might have been further in front at half-time but, after pushing out Lamela’s cross, Lukasz Fabianski got down to deny Davinson Sánchez at close quarters.
West Ham could not get going before the interval, with Anderson particularly poor, flunking corners and struggling defensively. He was substituted before the hour, after an attempt to beat his man ended with him running the ball over the sideline.
The home team were also rocked by the loss of Andriy Yarmolenko to a nasty ankle injury. The winger got his studs stuck in the turf as he attempted to chase a ball following a corner and it was an ugly twist that left him writhing in agony.
West Ham were better in the second half, with Arnautovic central to everything they did. He sent a looping header towards the top corner that Lloris clawed to safety and then watched as the goalkeeper pushed a low shot from him around the far post. At the very end, Arnautovic wriggled free of Sánchez but Lloris left his line to block.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
WEST HAM: (4-1-4-1) Fabianski 6.5; Zabaleta 6, Balbuena 6, Diop 6.5, Cresswell 6; Rice 6; Yarmolenko 5 (Diangana 40, 6), Noble 6 (Antonio 70, 6), Snodgrass 6.5, Anderson 5 (Hernandez 51, 6.5); Arnautovic 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Adrian; Fredericks, Masuaku, Ogbonna
BOOKINGS: Noble 59, Arnautovic 73, Snodgrass 81
COACH: Manuel Pellegrini 6
TOTTENHAM: (4-3-2-1) Lloris 7.5; Tripper 6, Sanchez 6.5, Alderweireld 7, Davies 6; Sissoko 7 (Eriksen 89), Dier 6, Winks 6.5; Moura 7.5, Lamela 8 (Dembele 76, 6); Kane 6 (Llorente 86)
SUBS NOT USED: Gazzaniga; Aurier, Son, Walker-Peters
GOALS: Lamela 44
COACH: Mauricio Pochettino 6
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson 6
MAN OF THE MATCH: Erik Lamela
VENUE: London Stadium