Tottenham Hotspur registered their fourth consecutive Premier League victory on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium. Whilst Spurs’ three points allowed them to keep within touching distance of the league leaders, West Ham’s loss saw them stuck in 14th place with just seven points after nine matches.
The loss to the North Londoners followed defeat to Brighton and was compounded by the severe-looking injury suffered by Andriy Yarmolenko. However, despite being on the wrong end of the scoreline, there were some positives for Manuel Pellegrini to take from his side’s performance on Saturday.
Amongst these positive factors was the performance of Issa Diop, who has developed into a reliable rock at the back for the Irons since his arrival from Toulouse this summer for a then-club record fee in the region of £22 million.
The 21-year-old centre-back put in yet another display demonstrating a defensive maturity beyond his years against Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Diop made it incredibly difficult for Spurs’ attackers to carve out many clear cut chances, restricting them to just two shots on target across the 90 minutes. Tottenham would have troubled the Hammers’ goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, with greater regularity had it not been for the efforts of Diop.
The 6’4” France under-21 international made five tackles (only Declan Rice made more), two interceptions and three clearances against Spurs as he was on hand to break up opposition attacks time and time again. He also blocked three shots – more than any other player on the pitch.
On top that, the defender put his imposing frame to good use, winning two aerial duels and going the entire game without being dispossessed by an opponent.
In fact, Diop’s quality on the ball almost outshone his impressive defensive efforts. He completed 30 passes against Spurs, including one key pass and two long balls. His pass accuracy rating of 96.7% led all players on the pitch, demonstrating just how calm and tidy Diop was in possession.
Whilst Pellegrini will be disappointed to have registered yet another defeat, he will be delighted with how well Diop has settled into English football. With Winston Reid currently sidelined with a long-term injury and James Collins having departed in the summer, having a reliable centre-back that the Hammers can build around is a major positive for the club at this time. If his performance against Spurs was anything to go by, though, the East London outfit could soon have a big job in keeping Diop from being prised away by some of Europe’s top clubs.