It was billed as a close-knit encounter between two London rivals separated by just one position in the Premier League table, but on that front Tottenham Hotspur’s clash against West Ham didn’t quite deliver.
No doubt, it was a relatively entertaining match with enough goal mouth action to quench the thirst of most Premier League neutrals. But there was only ever one side really in the game as Spurs took all the local bragging rights in a 4-1 win.
Harry Kane bagged a brace, opening the scoring in the 23rd minute and following on just after half-time, whilst Belgium international netted during the intermittent period by heading home a swerving corner from Christian Eriksen and Kyle Walker put the final nail in the coffin on the 83rd minute – a rifled effort into the top corner of Adrian’s net.
West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini, meanwhile, secured his side a consolation goal with five minutes remaining.
But the 4-1 win wouldn’t mean a thing unless we learned something from it. And with that in mind, here’s the three major talking points Football Fancast took from this afternoon’s action.
Slaven Bilic has earned rave reviews since taking West Ham’s managerial reigns from Sam Allardyce during the summer, but today’s result proved that the Upton Park gaffer does have his flaws.
Clearly, the tactics that saw West Ham claim shock wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea earlier this season didn’t work against the Lilywhites, with the utilisation of Andy Carroll at centre-forward being one of the biggest differences.
Centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen demonstrated their aerial frailties against Arsenal before the international break, with Olivier Giroud running riot in the final third and particularly from set pieces.
Also measuring in at 6 foot 4 and famed for his heading prowess, Carroll could have made a similar impact this afternoon. But the England international was isolated for large periods and finished the match with just 30 touches of the ball – the least of any starter (including both goalkeepers) for either side.
The Hammers recorded just four accurate crosses and 64 long balls, a decrease of their average of 69 per match last season, whilst Carroll finished up with just two efforts at goal.
Having suffered similar ineffectual woes against Watford and Everton prior to the international break, clearly the Bilic philosophy doesn’t really accommodate for a towering striker leading the attack. Accordingly, one fears for the 26-year-old’s long-term future at Upton Park.
Not too long ago, Harry ‘he’s one of our own’ Kane was finding himself trying to shake off the one-season wonder tag. The 22-year-old striker was absolutely brilliant last season, finishing up as the Premier League’s top scoring Englishman with 21 goals in 34 appearances, but failed to find the net in his first six league outings of the 2015/16 campaign – inevitably leading to a wave of criticism from the ever-hyperbolic English media.
But after bagging a brace against the Hammers, there’s no question the England international is back to his best form. He’s now scored eight goals in 13 Premier League appearances, including a hat-trick against Bournemouth and seven strikes in his last five league outings.
Yet, it wasn’t just Kane’s goals that caught the eye, even though both of them included expert finishes that gave West Ham goalkeeper Adrian no chance at all. The 6 foot 2 centre-forward’s all-round play was simply brilliant against West Ham, perhaps epitomised best by his three tackles and regular headed clearances from corners.
After representing little more than a summer breeze during the first six league games of the season, the Hurrikane is well and truly terrorising Premier League defences once again.
Now 13 games into the new Premier League season, next summer’s European championships might not be as far away as they seem.
Although England aren’t exactly considered the favourites, Roy Hodgson now has a squad with great competition in every department, ranging from goalkeeper to centre-forward and everything in between – including right-back.
Kyle Walker’s not everybody’s cup of tea and there are certainly some inconsistencies to his game, which has seen most – including Roy Hodgson – move closer towards Nathaniel Clyne as the Three Lions’ first choice No.2 for Euro 2016.
But the Tottenham defender hit back at his critics today in an expert display, capped off with a fantastic strike to make it 4-0 in the dying embers of the match. Heung-Min Son laid off the ball at the edge of the penalty area, inviting Walker to drill it past Adrian with the outside of his boot.
Likewise, the 25-year-old recorded five interceptions and two accurate crosses, both statistics being the best returns of any player on the pitch. With this performance, Walker has thrown down the gauntlet to his competitors for England’s right-back berth. Are you watching Hodgson?