Tottenham missed the opportunity to put pressure on leaders Chelsea and close the gap to just one point after Manuel Lanzini’s second-half goal earnt West Ham a narrow victory on Friday night.
Going into the clash four points adrift of the Blues, Harry Kane went closest in a cagey opening half when he forced Adrian into a smart save with his feet from close range.
The visitors were well below par for most of the game, however, and after failing to clear the ball inside their own area Lanzini was in the right place at the right time to lash home the opener.
Despite pressing Tottenham failed to create many clear openings, and West Ham held out to mean that Chelsea could win the title next Friday if they beat both Middlesbrough and West Brom.
Walker does little to win Pochettino over
There’s been a lot of speculation flying around during the week about Kyle Walker’s future at Tottenham, but he did nothing to help his case with an extremely underwhelming display on Friday.
After missing out against Chelsea in the recent FA Cup semi-final and Arsenal in the North London derby last weekend, Walker was given the nod ahead of Kieran Trippier for the trip to the Hammers.
It was a very uncharacteristically off-colour performance by the England man, however, only completing two of the six tackles he attempted and having very little impact bombing forward.
On a large London Stadium pitch, Walker’s natural ability to join the attack and offer width should have lent himself perfectly to the game but it failed to materialise; throughout the evening he didn’t see much of the ball in the final third, making just one cross and not creating any chances.
On more than one occasion he left his team short at the back too, not tracking back as keenly as we have become accustomed to seeing, and his night summed up Spurs’ display perfectly.
It’s arguable that his mind was simply elsewhere – particularly considering the growing interest from Manchester City – and it was the performance of a man resigned to leaving the club during summer.
West Ham’s three-man defence shines as Spurs fall short
Almost exactly a year after Tottenham’s title challenge fell to pieces at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, it was another London club that all-but ended Spurs’ dreams of winning the league this time round.
After only taking four points from 14 matches against top eight sides this season, West Ham had clearly been saving themselves for when it mattered and essentially handed the title to Chelsea.
Tottenham were not at their best – there’s no doubt about that – but since changing to a three-man system at the back, Slaven Bilic’s side haven’t conceded in three consecutive games.
Even with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in the side, the visitors failed to create many clear-cut chances of their own due to West Ham’s experimental system; with Jose Fonte, Winston Reid and James Collins tight at the back, there were very few gaps for Spurs to exploit in a stubborn display.
It was perhaps testament to how well the hosts were playing that Bilic didn’t use his first substitution until the 83rd minute – and with his team arguably playing the best they have all season whilst ending Tottenham’s nine-match winning streak, it’s hard to blame him.
Lanzini continues record in London derbies
Since Dmitri Payet found his way through the exit door at West Ham a few months into the new season, there’s always been a question mark over who would take over the reins at the Hammers.
In a disappointing first season at the London Stadium, which has seen Slaven Bilic’s side just about secure their top-flight status, Manuel Lanzini has stood up and delivered to crush Spurs’ title prospects.
In the right place at the right time to fire past Hugo Lloris from all of three-yards, it was a deserved reward for an impressive night’s work on Friday after being a constant thorn in the visitor’s side.
The Argentine created four chances and four crosses, attempted three shots and completed two take-ons and was undeniably the main architect of West Ham’s much-needed victory.
Another goal in the capital takes his tally to nine in 14 matches against the Hammer’s London rivals, and more importantly ensures that West Ham are now mathematically safe from relegation.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by ????????????? ????????????.