West Ham sub story is hard to take
PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 November 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
Blame for Tottenham loss lies with Bilic
Substitutions, the good, bad and dreadful were the difference between Tottenham and West Ham on Saturday evening.
The Hammers were in a winning position, playing well and working their socks off and at 2-1 they looked like they were more likely to add to their lead rather than relinquish it.
But as Spurs brought on Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli, West Ham brought off Diafra Sakho and Dimitri Payet and replaced them with Simone Zaza and Havard Nordtveit and that was so costly.
Two seasons ago, the Hammers under Sam Allardyce were leading 2-0 with 10 minutes to go when the boss took off Mark Noble. It finished 2-2 and the manager got some of the blame.
After a 3-2 defeat last weekend current boss Slaven Bilic must also shoulder the responsibility.
“When you are up with three minutes to go you want to win the game,” said a shocked Bilic.
“Okay they can equalise, but to concede two goals – one of which is a penalty – is hard to take.
“You have to be smart. Son did a good move, but our player went down a bit too quickly.”
That player – Nordtveit – has failed to find any form since he arrived. An experienced, reliable player – and international – he has shown no form for the Hammers. Going to ground to concede the penalty was simply unnecessary and awful.
At the other end there were problems too as Bilic noted: “We were 2-1 up with three or four minutes to go, before that we had three really good opportunities to score the third one.”
Counter-attacking is what West Ham do so well when in front, but the problem was Zaza.
Twice he should have done so much better, but his decision to pass when well-placed shows his lack of confidence and his powder-puff shot straight at the keeper shows he is not up to the job.
It is so cruel to be talking about the climax to the game, including the sending-off of Winston Reid, which rules him out of the Manchester United game, when so much about this game was great for the Hammers.
Darren Randolph played well, making one exceptional save with his feet from Eric Dier’s header and another which led to the Spurs equaliser.
Reid was superb in defence, Pedro Obiang excellent in midfield, Payet looked dangerous, Michail Antonio tricky, while everyone, and especially the returning Sakho, gave absolutely everything to the cause.
Spurs had their moments, but the Hammers broke up their play, harried the home midfield, won the ball and then got forward to cause them problems.
Sakho had run out of steam so you could appreciate him being replaced, but not Payet, not the star man who Tottenham no longer had to worry about.
It was a big mistake and a costly one and Bilic knew it.
He added: “It was important to get something out of the game because we have a tough schedule, but then again we have shown we can put really good performances in and we have chances against whoever we play.”
Maybe, but these were three points that were up for grabs and almost won and that could have serious repercussions in the next few games, with Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford followed by games against Arsenal and Liverpool.
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