David Hautzig's Match Report
West Ham 2, Tottenham 1. So This What Fortunes Look Like.
I was a bit conflicted about todays match. When Sean Whetstone asked me for a prediction, I said 2-1 West Ham. I figured our speed and pressure up front would force a few mistakes from Jose’s crew. The conflict was something different. It was about desire. Of course I wanted to beat them, go nine points ahead of them, and continue to loiter in the top four. But I was taken by what David Moyes said to The Times.
“I want to get away from that feeling that you have to take this chance now,” Moyes said. “To say, ‘This is your chance to do it or you’re not going to do it at all, that’s not that way I’m building. I want to build something which is going to be consistent and regular. I expect us to do it next year and the year after, because that’s my job.”
To that end, I didn’t want today to turn into the be-all-end-all of West Ham existence. But boy, does it feel wonderful.
The mistakes at the back started early for Spurs. In the 5th minute, Coufal nutmegged Reguilon before rolling a pass to Bowen, who then put a cross into the box for Antonio to attack. It looked like Dier and Sanchez played that internal game of “you got him?” with each other, and as it turned out neither had him. Antonio got a toe to the cross, Lloris couldn’t hold on to it, and our man up front slammed home the rebound.
West Ham 1
A few minutes later Tottenham were again sloppy on the ball at midfield, and Antonio pounced. He fed Lingard on the left, but the man on loan tried to return the favor with a pass as opposed to shooting and Antonio couldn’t reach it. A minute later Lamela broke on a counter for Spurs and got the ball to Kane twenty yards out. But Kane’s right footed effort went wide.
West Ham’s day could have become complicated in the 15th minute when Soucek and Sanchez clashed heads as the ball bounced around in the West Ham eighteen yard box following a Spurs corner. Both players went down. It says something about the relative toughness of the two players, as Sanchez rolled around on the ground while Soucek bounced back up despite the blood pouring out of his head. So while the wanna be hockey player from the Czech Republic got stitched up West Ham had to cope with being a man down.
Spurs won a free kick from just outside the box when Bowen used his arm to block a cross from Reguilon. It should have been a very dangerous moment for West Ham, but Son’s delivery barely elevated off the ground let alone beat the first man. But despite the return of Soucek, the visitors kept the possession and the ball inside the West Ham half.
Wes Ham won a much needed corner in the 37th minute after what seemed like ages of Tottenham possession. And it almost doubled the Hammers lead when Dawson rose up to reach the delivery from Cresswell, but his header was right at Lloris who palmed it over the bar for a second corner which Spurs were able to clear.
Spurs got their first shot on target of the day in the 43rd minute when Lamela latched onto a ball 25 yards from goal and let go a low shot that Fabianski went down to his right to stop. Two minutes later West Ham won a cheeky corner when Coufal got the ball into the Spurs box for Bowen, forcing Sanchez to head the ball out. But Lloris came out strongly and gathered it in.
In the late moments of added time, Kane got the ball just where he likes it and tested Fabianski with a low shot. Diop got to the rebound first and put it out for a corner. The delivery was good enough to allow Dier to get his head on the ball but his attempt went wide.
West Ham 1
VAR has been inconsistent bordering on disastrous at times. But the whole point of it is to make sure as many decisions are correct as possible. Imagine this. Antonio laid the ball off for Fornals, who then broke into the Spurs area alongside Lingard with the latter capping off the attack with a wonderful left footed shot into the far corner, only to see the flag go up and the goal disallowed. All of us at home then get to see the decision was utterly absurd. I know the reaction on Twitter and the many fan sites, this one included, would have been incendiary.
West Ham 2
Spurs won a free kick when Soucek was shown a yellow for a foul in the 59th minute. Kane took it, and while it beat the West Ham wall it flew wide. Two minutes later Kane whipped in a low cross that Fabianski read well and smothered low. Moments after that Bale got the ball at midfield and started a trot deeper into West Ham territory before trying a low shot of his own that Fabianski handled. Then Tottenham won a corner, and the pressure that Spurs had kept up finally had an end product as Moura got to the ball first and beat Fabianski to the near post. Poor marking from Cresswell? Yes. But it was coming.
West Ham 2
In the 70th minute, after two quick consecutive corners, Moura had a good look at goal from 25 yards out but skied his shot high over the bar. Two minutes later Kane cut across the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box and almost found the corner of the net. It was all Spurs, and one had to wonder what the match would have looked like had Spurs started like this from the opening whistle.
The game opened up, and after Fornals inexplicably tried to cross to nobody in the box instead of shooting, Spurs broke. Kane chased down a ball on the end-line and passed to Bale near the top of the box. The man with the silly rubber band in his hair let loose a cannon of a shot that clanged off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
West Ham saw a nervy time transform into sheer terror when Fabianski came out to punch away a cross, but he collided with Coufal in the process. The bargain of not just this season but many seasons laid on the grass for several minutes. The medical staff came out quick, and at first it looked very serious. But like his countryman earlier, Coufal showed his toughness and carried on.
The final minutes plus added time were too nervy for me to watch and write at the same time, so I put my IPad down and began to pace. Quietly, because the family was asleep. When Coufal’s clearance attempt bounced off Son, and then bounced off the bar, and THEN evaded Sanchez, my knees buckled a bit. Adding to the tension was the knowledge that my stream was close to two minutes behind. So when my best mate Jon texted me that it was over, I stared at the screen in a kind of daze. Waiting for the alternative time line to hit me with Kane scoring the equalizer. Like Mourinho dressed as Thanos snapping his fingers.
West Ham 2
I wonder how many of you are sharing the same combination of feelings as I have. Joy with a level of disbelief. We are in the top half of the table in a legitimate fight for a spot in Europe. Our place in the upper atmosphere is certainly precarious, but it’s also on merit. You are not fourth after 25 matches on luck. You are there because you belong there. And to do that on our budget, with the losses we have incurred on transfers that didn’t pan out, is remarkable. At a time when so many parts of our collective lives are somewhere in between uncertain and scary, the fun this side and David Moyes in particular have given us is priceless.
Hello Fortunes. Nice to meet you after all these years.