After Saturday’s results dropped West Ham United into the bottom three in the Premier League table, they were unable to climb out on Sunday afternoon, as they lost 2-0 on the road to their fierce rivals at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Saïd Benrahma dropped to the bench, as both Tomáš Souček and Flynn Downes came into the starting line-up, with Lucas Paquetá the other player to miss out, due to a shoulder injury. Nayef Aguerd was fit enough to retain his place from the team that drew the home match with Chelsea eight days ago.
Alphonse Areola, Aaron Cresswell and Gianluca Scamacca all returned to the matchday squad, while youngster Kaelan Casey was also included amongst the nine substitutes.
Both teams wanted a positive result here, with West Ham looking to extend their current unbeaten run, whilst the hosts were hoping to bounce back from two below par performances and with Cristian Stellini continuing to take charge in Antonio Conte’s absence, the Hammers who could have grabbed a very early advantage.
They could have been ahead inside the opening minute when a great team move involving Vladimír Coufal, Souček and Jarrod Bowen resulted in the former Hull City winger sending his effort wide.
Souček was heavily involved in the early stages and after failing to pick out Michail Antonio, he then was inches away from opening the scoring but he was unable to apply the finishing touch to Bowen’s cross. However, had the midfielder beaten home goalkeeper Fraser Forster, it wouldn’t have counted, as he was offside.
Souček was really playing well here and he was in the heart the action again, as he helped divert Oliver Skipp’s attempt over the bar, before Pierre-Emile Højbjerg then had a go at goal but thankfully for the travelling support, Łukasz Fabiański was in the right place to gather.
Stellini’s men went close just before the break when Richarlison almost beat the Pole after Harry Kane had set him up but fortunately, West Ham’s regular stopper kept the Brazilian striker at bay.
From the resulting corner seconds later, Cristian Romero perhaps should have done better with his opportunity but instead, he headed wide.
In contrast to the fast start that the Irons made in the opening forty five minutes, it was their opponents who reemerged from the dressing rooms with more intent. They nearly made the breakthrough just two minutes after the action had restarted when Richarlison was set up, as Kane combined well with Dejan Kulusevski after forcing a mistake from Aguerd but in the end, the striker was unable to get the better of Fabiański.
The East Londoners then gave the ball away again with Captain Declan Rice the culprit on this occasion. However, his blushes were spared, as Kane missed the target when he tried his luck.
Despite all their chances to go ahead in the first-half, West Ham’s resilience was broken when Emerson Royal finally found a way past Fabiański on fifty six minutes when the former Barcelona player latched onto a pass from defender Ben Davies and finished with ease.
Bowen almost found an instant equaliser but Forster saw the danger in time and he was denied. He couldn’t reach the rebound either as Romero was quick to clear the danger.
David Moyes decided to make a double change on seventy two minutes, as Benrahma and Danny Ings replaced both Downes and Antonio.
The changes didn’t get chance to make an impact as Spurs doubled their advantage almost immediately when Angelo Ogbonna’s header unfortunately dropped into the path of Kane, who then played in substitute Son Heung-min, who had taken the place of Richarlison in the sixty eighth minute, the South Korean made his way into the box and gave Fabiański no chance.
Benrahma could have made the closing stages of the encounter interesting and gave those who had made the short trip across London something to celebrate but he could only find the side-netting with his effort.
With less than seven minutes of normal time to play, the Hammers’ boss made two further substitutions with Ben Johnson and Pablo Fornals entering the fray for Ogbonna and Emmerson Palmieri.
Souček was almost presented with a chance to grab what would have only been a consolation but in the end, the East Londoners couldn’t build on an impressive start to the month which has already seen them take points from Newcastle United and Chelsea.
They end February with a crucial home game on Saturday afternoon, as newly-promoted Nottingham Forest visit Stratford.