The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW31): Spurs 2-0 West Ham
We’ll be frank here; the games’ best moments were just before half time. The game was scrappy, and both West Ham and the hosts were keen to get the first goal. This match started with a derby feeling, but as the minutes passed by it became more like most of the restart games: a tired, disjointed affair.
The first and best chance fell to Hueng-Min Son, who then hit the bottom right corner of the goal. The deadlock had finally been broken, until everyone’s favourite bit of technology had its say. VAR returned for the first time to rule out a goal since the restart, with the deadlock restored to this game. Lucas Moura also had two great chances in the game, the first was before the ruled out goal with Moura forcing Fabianski, and in the final minute of the first-half the Brazilian reminded everyone of the Champions League final in 2019 when the ball dropped to him, and he completely spooned his shot.
The second half was more of the same until the 59th minute when Kane had a great chance to break the deadlock with an angled shot, but the England captain shot just wide of the goal to the relief of David Moyes. The game was beginning to open up for Spurs, as substitute Erik Lamela also had a similar chance to Kane a few minutes later but instead hit the side netting. The breakthrough finally happened in a bizarre moment, with Spurs taking the lead through a fortunate flick from Lucas Moura that was then flicked into the goal by a panicked Tomáš Souček.
The Hammers best chance fell to Bowen in the box, the former Hull player hit the bar, which should have been what levelled the game. West Ham’s bad luck went from worse-to-worse as Son set Kane through on Fabianski’s goal, and the Spurs forward notched his first goal of the calendar year to double Spurs’ lead. West Ham began to put more men forward, but this weakened their midfield which was then harassed on the counterattack by Spurs. Bergwijn entered the match from the bench and hit the side netting.
West Ham since the restart have failed to get out of first gear, and with back-to-back 2-0 losses to Wolves and Spurs, they need to figure out how they are going to navigate a shaky relegation race. Spurs victory should be reassuring to Mourinho about their charge for European football next season.
Man of the Match: Serge Aurier (TOT)
Starting back-to-back matches for Spurs, the right-back was phenomenal against West Ham. Able to deal with any threat thrown at him by a limp Hammers attack, the defender was also stretching the West Ham team and was constantly a menace on the right channel. Aurier delivered cross after cross into the Hammers box, and was many times let down by his teammates not reading the crosses correctly. Aurier made West Ham look pedestrian at both ends of the pitch, and deservingly picks up a clean sheet and pivotal win in this game.
TOT 2-0 WHU - Insight and Analysis:
After enduring the Leicester and Brighton goalless draw I had no hope for this fixture, and for most the first half it looked like the game was stuck, especially after Son had his goal disallowed. Spurs had the ascendency, and they arguably deserved the lead, but it is the nature of how bizarre the goal was that was more bemusing than earned. Basically, Spurs couldn’t rely on their own luck, it was the bad luck of West Ham that gave them the lead. Kane’s goal was lovely to watch and backs up what I have been saying about the pace of matches since the restart. The goals were scored after the 60th minute, with the subs making an impact.
If you follow me, you know I track every goal ruled out by VAR in the Premier League. VAR has been quiet in the restart, and Son’s goal in the first half was the first time a goal was ruled out since Project Restart. The FPL is dead due to all the changes, but it had to by my captain to have the first goal ruled out. Poetic.
Ramifications for the relegation battle:
West Ham look a team doomed. The baffling question is about their starting eleven, with David Moyes favouring Mark Noble in their creative playmaker role. Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Yarmolenko, and Jack Wilshere were watching their teammates not provide one answer to the question of where the goals are going to come from to survive a relegation scare. West Ham only created a couple of scoreable chances against Spurs and much like in the Wolves game were completely outplayed from the start of the match. The Hammers need to reassess their team and gamble on a more creative midfield.
Based on their current performances, Bournemouth and Aston Villa will be spurred on by seeing West Ham’s recent performances. The London club is in danger of dropping down to the Championship, and David Moyes may be let go in order to retain their Premier League status.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Manager: Jose Mourinho
GK: Hugo Lloris (C)
LB: Ben Davies
CB: Eric Dier
CB: Davinson Sánchez
RB: Serge Aurier
LM: Hueng-Min Son (Winks 86')
CDM: Giovani Lo Celso
CDM: Moussa Sissoko
CAM: Dele Alli (Lamela 59')
RM: Lucas Moura (Bergwijn '72)
ST: Harry Kane
Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sessegnon, Winks, Gedson, Ndombele, Bergwijn, Lamela
Manager: David Moyes
GK: Lukasz Fabianski
LB: Aaron Cresswell
CB: Fabián Balbuena
CB: Issa Diop
RB: Ryan Fredericks
CM: Mark Noble (C) (F. Anderson 71')
CM: Declan Rice
CAM: Tomáš Souček
LM: Pablo Fornals (Lanzini 71')
RM: Jarrod Bowen
ST: Michail Antonio
Randolph, Johnson, Ogbonna, Wilshere, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Lanzini, Xande Silva, Ajeti
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