Monday, August 24, 2009

West Ham United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Focus On The Positives Instead of Cole's Blunder

On a sun-baked afternoon at Upton Park, West Ham United had their first real test against the high-flying Tottenham Hotspur. I stated in my previous post that for the Hammers to gain all three points, they have to stop Jermain Defoe which was exactly what they did.

I have to say that the performance merits at least a draw. Spurs looked a different side than the one that took Hull City apart. Then again, Hull does not have the quality players that West Ham have. Jermain Defoe was kept extremely quiet by Upson and Collins. Robbie Keane also had a poor game and was largely anonymous thanks to some excellent defending by West Ham's two centrebacks.

Zola's tactics seemed spot on, with Scott Parker simply outstanding. He was a giant, similar to Mascherano. The determined running and tackles he made were at times breathtaking. In truth, Defoe and Keane were starved of the ball and it was Parker who takes the credit for breaking up the Spurs' midfield play. The one time that Parker did not get across to help cover for Jonathan Spector resulted in Lennon firing home the winning goal.

Defoe equalising after a suicidal back pass from Carlton Cole - Image from Empics

Carlton Cole did really well as the lone striker up front. He conjured up a stunning goal out of nothing and at that point, West Ham really looked in control. Unfortunately, he also played a blind pass into the path of Defoe (his only real chance) who gleefully scored the undeserving equaliser. Cole fell to the ground at the end of the match, distraught at what he had gifted Tottenham. If he was at fault, then Jonathan Spector should be equally culpable for not clearing the ball, allowing Lennon to nip in and score.

On the negative side, much was expected from Mark Noble and Jack Collison. The performances from both were disappointing, the duo hardly got into the game or threaten the Spurs goal. In fairness, Jack Collison made a great run into the box, taking the ball well on the chest but could not finish the move. Mark Noble on the other hand, did nothing notable.

More worryingly though was my observation that Luis Jimenez may be too lightweight for the Premier League. His skills and abilities on the ball are great but if he is continually out muscled by Premiership defenders, West Ham will not benefit from his intelligence and creativity.

Equally worrying is the lack of depth on the team bench. 19-years old Junior Stanislas started this match in place of injured Kieron Dyer. Young Zavon Hines and newly acquired 18-year old Frank Nouble was thrown into the fray in the hope that he will find a goal to rescue a draw. The two experienced players on the bench were Radoslav Kovac and Danny Gabbidon, both of whom are not impact players. Much as I hate to see Collins leaving, the transfer money would help West Ham's season if a striker can be acquired before transfer window closes.

Still, it's great to see the boys play with skill, verve and determination. If a prolific striker is bought, I don't see any reason for us not getting into Europe next season. Millwall is our next fixture in the League Cup, this match should help West Ham get over the disappointment of this loss.

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