David Hautzig's Match Report
Midweek games are usually a treat. I am often at work and listen on the radio in the car, or I catch the second half after picking my son up from school. Iain also knows that reports on such days are basically impossible. But with working from home a way of life now and no school pickup needed, today should be something to enjoy. But after Saturday, watching this entirely uninspired group falls well below mowing the lawn or folding laundry. Relegation could put an end to all of that with far fewer games from The Championship televised over here.
Strangely, the match started with an opportunity for the visitors when Cresswell sent a pass into the box that Antonio chested down and laid off for Noble. But the captain could not control the ball, and instead of a point blank shot it was just a blank, rolling to Lloris. The first ten minutes rolled on without much incident, but West Ham did look better than they did on Saturday.
Spurs pushed forward and won a corner in the 13th minute when Aurier tried a low cross that Diop nervously put behind. But the delivery went over everyone, and considering our generally awful defending on set pieces it was hard not to feel like that in and of itself was a let off for West Ham.
By the 20th minute, it certainly looked like nil-nil was what Moyes had gone to bed dreaming about. Yes, West Ham looked organized and potentially hard to break down. But Antonio looked a bit more than socially distanced up front, and it was hard to envision The Hammers creating too many chances.
A lot has been written, said, and postulated that had Fabianski not been injured against Bournemouth way back in September, and the hot mess that is Roberto stayed invisible, we may never have had to dismiss Pellegrini and mid table mediocrity could easily have been attained. When Moura let fly with a fine shot in the 23rd minute, Fabianski reached up with a firm hand to put it over for a corner. The only thing firm about Roberto is the tattoo on his neck. Minutes later Kane sent a beautiful through ball for Alli. Diop just got a touch to it and sent it back to the West Ham keeper, who calmly moved it back out to Cresswell.
Spurs continued to control the ball and ask questions. Balbuena had to put a low cross intended for Kane out for a corner, but after the initial delivery was cleared the hosts regained possession and it looked like a game of keep away. Even when West Ham got a foot on the ball it was a fleeting moment at best.
Spurs had a good spell as the first half wound down, with attacking play down the left from Davis, Moura and Alli. Balbuena, after apparently falling out of favor with Moyes, made some good defensive plays to break down the Spurs attacks. Eventually the Spurs Surge looked to culminate in a low hard shot by West Ham killer Son. But VAR came to the rescue! My new favorite part of Son is his left elbow.
Just before the end of added time, Moura had a clear chance from 15 yards out but somehow pulled his shot wide.
West Ham 0
David Moyes has been criticized for not having a Plan B. Well, the same cannot be said for yours truly. When the skies at my house turned grey and the rain started, the satellite said Funtime was temporarily on hold. You will not defeat ME, mama nature. In seconds, I had the game on my IPad, the Mac powered up for writing, and I was back in business.
The second half started just as the first half ended. First Dier marched in near the top of the eighteen yard box and sent a shot that went wide. Moments later Aurier drove down the right and found Kane in front of Fabianski. But the prolific Spurs frontman was too close to goal, and his attempt to back heel the ball into the net didn’t work.
Against Wolves, the only chance West Ham really had was when Fornals blew a good opportunity in the first half. He doubled down today in the 53rd minute when Bowen found him all alone inside the Spurs eighteen yard box. Instead of a shot, he rolled a weak ball off his shin and well wide. Before lockdown, Fornals seemed to have cemented his spot in the side. Now, he looks right back where he started at the beginning of the season.
West Ham launched a decent attack on the left in the 57th minute, and it was pretty much all Rice’s doing. After a long run, he cut to his right and tried to curl a shot towards Lloris but it was deflected out for a corner. Seconds later Kane had a good look but his shot went wide. Back down the other way, Antonio was sent forward with a long ball over the top, one that he caught up to. But his attempted volley off the bounce went nowhere near the goal.
The breakthrough as it was came in the 65th minute when Spurs won a corner. The ball floated over and looked to settle calmly in front of Fabianski. But as Soucek tried to sort out his feet to clear, he zigged when should have zagged and the ball went off his leg and into the back of the net.
West Ham 0
The Hammers tried to answer with some energy, and Bowen won a free kick 25 yards from goal. The delivery was not exactly worthy of praise, and the attack was done before it even started. In the 75th minute West Ham won a corner when Lanzini tried to sneak into the box to get on the end of an Antonio cross, forcing Sanchez to put the ball out. Then Antonio won a free kick near the end line, and the delivery eventually came to Anderson. The deservedly maligned Brazilian did well to get the ball to Bowen in the box, and his shot did beat Lloris only to bounce off the outside of the post.
The game, and my time watching it, ended in the 83rd minute. Antonio had the ball near the top of the Spurs penalty area, but lost it easily to Lamela. A quick pass that Kane timed his run perfectly for became a fait accompli.
West Ham 0
We were better than we had been on Saturday. But we still looked lackluster and void of ideas. And while I know the substitute rules are a bit different now, why Moyes refused again to use what he had at his disposal baffled me. I was comfortable with his re-appointment, thinking we were his level and he was ours. That still might be the case.
The level might just be a lot worse than I knew.