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West Ham v Spurs, 08.12.08

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
MONDAY 8TH DECEMBER, 2008
WEST HAM UNITED 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0)

Scorers:-
King, 68
O’Hara, 90

Referee: - Chris Foy

Attendance: - 34,277

Teams:-
West Ham (4-4-2):- Green; Neill (Capt.), Collins, Upson, Ilunga; Faubert (sub Noble, 58), Parker (sub Tristan, 83), Mullins (sub Di Michele, 73), Behrami; Cole, Bellamy

Subs not used: - Lastuvka; Davenport, Collison; Boa Morte

Booked: - Behrami, Noble

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Bentley (sub O’Hara, 81), Jenas, Zokora, Lennon; Modric; Pavlyuchenko (sub Bent, 54)

Subs not used: - Cesar; Dawson, Bale; Huddlestone, Boateng

No Bookings

Another Party at The Park!

It wasn’t quite as much fun as the 4-3 in March last year, but we still had a good laugh at the expense of the Hammers’ fans for whom this is their “Cup Final”. The result could be more pivotal than that 4-3 too, as Spurs climbed above Zola’s side, who have a tough trip to Stamford bridge next week-end. Spurs too have a toughie against the League Champions, but their morale and confidence will be high for any opposition.

Last night’s Derby game (Spurs’ first win against London opposition so far this season in the league) did not excite too often, with midfield battles being fought and most creativity being stemmed before the goalkeepers were threatened. Bentley started on the right and Lennon on the left, but once they switched mid-way through the first half, Spurs gained more and more of the ascendancy, as Carlton Cole and Craig Bellamy generally failed to even hit the target when they did get a shot.

Spurs lined up with their settled back four, and got their third clean sheet in five games, helping manager Harry Redknapp to maintain his 100% record as a visiting manager to his old stomping ground. Harry got a mixed reception, but he will be more than happy with his league record of 5 wins in the 8 games since his arrival, when Spurs had just a paltry two points and looked doomed. On the form displayed last night, the home side (whose Icelandic bubble has burst) will be facing an ongoing struggle, whilst Spurs should soon find their way to the top half, despite their next fixture (or perhaps because of it!)

There were plenty of good performances in the Spurs side last night, apart from the back four, Modric was a welcome returnee and impressed with his skilful control and retention of the ball at close quarters, as usual. Unfortunately, his creativity did not always match his initial skill, but he had everything to do with Spurs ongoing domination at crucial times. Zokora did what he does well in excellent fashion. That is to say he chased, harried and stemmed many attacks before they got to the final third. Jenas was busy too, but less successful with his end product, whilst Lennon, especially after the switch, tormented West Ham skipper Lucas Neill, and was provider-in-chief for Spurs’ attacks.

Lennon had been the provider for the first chance of the game, which Modric hit direct to the arms of Robert Green hailed by Spurs fans as “England’s Number Six”. The Hammers’ fans were chanting the most offensive abuse at Gomes, who was lauded by his own fans with “We love you Gomes” in return. It was a while before Spurs next decent chance, after Pavlyuchenko held off his marker and laid the ball back to Ekotto, whose cross was met by a Bentley header directly at the keeper. West Ham had the ball in the net from a corner, but the referee disallowed it for a foul.

Spurs had a couple of good chances just before the break. Firstly Jenas made a good pass out to Corluka on the right, who had Lennon close at hand. It was Lennon who crossed, and Pavlyuchenko fed the ball to Bentley who hit a rasping shot pushed out by Green for a corner. Bentley had displayed some skill on the wing, but his final product did not live up to the prologue too often. After the corner, a Modric shot was blocked and the ball ran to Lennon whose cross might have had a touch by Green before Pavlyuchenko hit the post at short range near the back post.

Two minutes after the interval, and after a foul by Corluka on Behrami, Bellamy’s free kick was punched clear by Gomes. Neill followed up with a low cross that passed through the 6 yard area across the goal. Bellamy had another chance that went wide, after what had looked like a West ham handball, un-noticed by the officials. Pavlyuchenko was replaced by Darren Bent, but it was Modric who had Spurs’ next chance hitting a shot high which Green reached up to collect.

Modric picked up the ball after a Gomes kick and started a good Spurs move through Jenas, which reached Lennon. His cross was collected by Bent at the back post, but he fired wide too. Zokora had one of hiss dizzy runs, which ended in a shot to the keeper. Spurs took a deserved lead through their skipper, who was up after a free kick. Lennon sent in a good high cross and Ledley headed down where the ball bounced above the arms of Green into the net. The goalkeeper had mis-timed his dive.

Now Spurs did have to do some desperate defending, but defend stoutly they did, with Gomes saving from Cole, and Corluka blocking substitute Di Michele. Lennon had a shot over the bar at the other end, and as full time approached, Gomes made a terrific double save. First he stopped Neill’s effort, then a close range attempt by Di Michele. Spurs then delivered the coup de grace from the break out, as Jamie O’Hara found space on the left channel, approached the box, and let loose with an unstoppable rising shot that burst Green’s net!

The win was complete, and the gloating could begin, as many of us tried to suppress our grins and good mood on the long tube ride back to central London. Now we can look forward to facing another United (from Manchester) on Saturday evening. I can’t wait!

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