David Hautzig's Match Report
When we lose, which I know is often, I often shut football out of my life for rest of the weekend. I don’t watch any other matches, I don’t read any blogs or sites (sorry Iain), and I certainly stay off Twitter in terms of West Ham. So a loss on a Friday before an international break gave me a whole extra day to be angry. Definitely not something I needed. You know what I did? I watched baseball. The Red Sox in particular. I’m not a Sox fan per se. I’m a Mets fan. But the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and in that regard I’m a Red Sox guy all the way. And Boston has plowed through the opposition with delicious rage, and it has allowed me to kind of pretend what it feels like to support a team that used to define suffering but now wins. Boy, would that be nice.
The opening minutes were full of energy if not quality. Snodgrass ran like he wanted to show that ground covered was the most important statistic known to man. Arnautovic as always tried to make runs behind the Spurs defense. On the other side Moura showed energy and a willingness to test Zabaleta. The first real opportunity came in the 11th minute when Spurs won a corner from a deflected shot by Sissoko. Fabianski came out to punch the delivery away for a Spurs throw, but eventually it all died down thanks to an offside flag.
Moments later West Ham created a chance of their own. Arnautovic tried to attack inside the box but Sanchez timed his tackle perfectly. Yarmolenko got to the ball and lofted it into the box, and Alderweireld took the safe route and sent it out for a corner. Anderson’s delivery was poor, yet it somehow led to a second corner. Unfortunately the second delivery was worse than the first.
The Cresswell v Masuaku debate isn’t a simple one. Defensively it’s a clear advantage for Cresswell. But Masuaku can be as good on the ball as anyone in Claret and Blue. With Masuaku having supposedly taken a knock, Cresswell was called back into action at left back. In the 21st minute he nutmegged Dier and won a free kick. The delivery found Arnautovic in the box to right of the goal, but Arnie seemed caught in the middle of either a pass or a shot and he did neither as the ball flew over the bar and out for a goal kick.
And moments later Anderson’s third corner was remarkably worse than the previous two. At that rate he looked destined to eventually score an own goal from a Hammers corner.
Defending can often be overlooked by the media and many supporters during a transfer window. In the 27th minute Kane got the ball near the West Ham eighteen yard box and looked certain to get a clear shot on goal. But then came Diop, and the 21 year old made the kind of tackle and clearance in the box that was as valuable as a goal. The combination of Diop and Balbuena is quite literally the best thing that happened to West Ham over the summer. I think.
In the 38th minute, West Ham won another corner. I had hoped to be able to make some snide comment about another poor Anderson corner. Pellegrini took that chance away from me when Snodgrass took the set piece, and it was indeed better. Balbuena got his head to it, and it bounced towards Yarmolenko near the far post. The Ukrainian tried to find his feet and the ball, but the former failed him. His right foot looked to collapse under him and he went down. At first I thought ankle, but the word on the street leaned towards achilles. From the look of it, whatever it was we won’t be seeing him anytime soon.
The only semi positive was that Pellegrini chose to give Diangana the spot over Antonio.
The first 40minutes of the half were fine by our standards. The final five were more typical. The loss of Yarmolenko started it. Then in the 44th minute, Anderson’s horrible day got worse when Sissoko turned him inside out before sending a pass into the box that Lamela guided past Fabianski with his head.
West Ham 0
Moments later West Ham were very, very fortunate not to give up a second when Lamela beat Diop on the right side of the box. Fabianski made a great stop, but couldn’t hold onto the ball and pushed it right to Sanchez. But Fabianski was up to the challenge and made another fine save to keep the deficit at one.
West Ham 0
The second half began with Cresswell giving Pellegrini reason to think he may be a good fit after all when he won the ball deep in the Spurs half and sent a cross into the box that Arnautovic headed towards the top corner. Only a diving Lloris save kept the Hammers off the scoreboard.
In the 52nd minute, it looked almost certain Anderson could do nothing well this afternoon. So when he ran the ball out for a Spurs throw, with nobody around him, I decided the only way to deal with the Brazilian today was to embrace the horror and hope for better down the road. He was replaced by Chicharito, who hadn’t played for seven weeks due to a viral infection. That kind of said it all.
For Snodgrass to come back to us after his loan spell at Villa, with all of the inappropriate nonsense thrown at him by our de facto DOF owner, and work his socks off the way he has says a lot about his character. In the 57th minute he won a corner by sheer will. Minutes later, West Ham won a second after Lloris made another diving save on a low shot by Arnautovic. The set piece delivery by the Scot was good enough to land on the head of Balbuena but the attempt went wide.
West Ham won their 8th corner of the afternoon in the 71st minute, once again due to the hard work of Snodgrass. The delivery hit Diop in the box but his header went wide. The relevant point there was the number 8. And less than half of them led to even an attempt on goal, let alone on target. Needless to say, we need to do far better on set pieces.
As the game wound down, West Ham continued to work hard, close down, and make Spurs work to keep their advantage. But they didn’t have enough at the very end to find the equalizer. The offside goal worked by Arnautovic and Hernandez showed what could be, but so often isn’t. Then in added time Arnautovic was sent in by Hernandez and Lloris made an exceptional save to keep Spurs on top. In the final seconds Antonio fired a long shot that went over the bar. It was both terribly frustrating and not entirely surprising.
West Ham 0
We probably don’t have as many points so far as we deserve. But isn’t that also The West Ham Way? The next twelve league matches will come against teams outside the top six. In all likelihood those matches will give us all a better idea of where we deserve to be in the table.
Back to baseball.