New Telegraph

February 25, 2024

EPL: Kane back on target to deepen West Ham’s misery

*Leicester survive Brighton scare

Once again it was impossible not to feel that there is more to come from Tottenham, even though they got the job done in the end. It was a slog for long spells and although they were entitled to argue that they shaded this low-key London derby, they only ended their barren run thanks to a welcome slice of luck, Tomas Soucek’s unfortunate own goal midway through the second half settling a tight game and deepening West Ham’s relegation fears, reports The Guardian
West Ham had defended assertively before Soucek’s aberration, maintaining a solid shape and keeping their neighbours at arm’s length for much of the contest. There were few chances and there were times when it was impossible not to feel Spurs are a long way from developing a convincing attacking identity under José Mourinho, especially with Harry Kane short of fitness after six months out.
Class is permanent, though, and Kane had the final say in the end, sealing Spurs’s first win in eight with a breakaway goal in the closing stages. West Ham had not played badly but they lacked a cutting edge and have lost their first two matches since their restart. They have not scored in either defeat and are only above the bottom three thanks to their superior goal difference over 18th-placed Bournemouth.
It was another game when both sides spent the early stages grasping for match sharpness. The rustiness was evident when Kane, desperate for a feel of the ball, watched a long pass from Ben Davies sail sadly over his head. There were plenty of those aimless punts from Spurs and they were not much better when they looked to play along the ground, not least when Moussa Sissoko strode forward, assessed his options, kicked the turf and watched the ball trickle to a claret and blue shirt.
Admittedly West Ham had more presence with Declan Rice free from centre-back duties, screening efficiently and putting out fires in front of the back four. Moyes wanted to bolt the door after Saturday’s flimsy defeat to Wolvesand he picked a side high on aggression and low on flair, bolting the door by dropping Felipe Anderson and moving Rice into a tough, disciplined midfield with Mark Noble and Soucek.
Not that it was all about containment from the visitors, who went close in the first minute when Michail Antonio muscled Noble into a promising position in the Spurs area. There were some bright early moments from West Ham, with Jarrod Bowen’s neat footwork catching the eye on the right, and times when Antonio’s strength unsettled Eric Dier and Davinson Sánchez.
Earlier, Leicester’s charge for Champions League qualification has slowed to a crawl but they can be thankful to Kasper Schmeichel for helping them to eke out a point here.
The goalkeeper’s save from a penalty by Neal Maupay in the first half enabled Brendan Rodgers’s team to claim a draw from a match in which they were second best for long spells. Leicester have won only one of their past seven league matches; they remain third in the table but their once-plush cushion is not looking comfortable.
Brighton, meanwhile, can take heart from their performance here, which brought their tally to four points from their two matches since the Premier League’s resumption. But they, too, could have done with a maximum yield and will lament their failure to turn first-half buoyancy into at least one goal.
Spurs 2 – 0 West Ham
Leicester 0 – 0 Brighton

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