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Three Points: Barcelona vs. Elche

La Liga Aug 24, 2014
Read
Dec 18, 2013

Three Things: Tottenham vs. West Ham

LONDON -- With Andre Villas-Boas' firing fresh in the memory, Tottenham couldn't prevent another embarrassing defeat, this time in the Capital One Cup. Here are three quick things from Spurs' 2-1 defeat vs. West Ham:

Meet the new boss, same as one of the old bosses Change of manager but no change of fortune as Tottenham Hotspur topple out of the League Cup. By the end of this match, Sam Allardyce was left smiling rather than the Spurs crowd that has endured such an uncertain time of late.

It wasn't the first time in the evening that the West Ham manager seemed to be enjoying himself, either. Early on in the first half, Allardyce let out a loud and knowing chuckle as he looked across the dug-out. There was caretaker Spurs boss Tim Sherwood, vigorously shouting at his players as if he'd been doing it for years.

There was certainly something familiar about this new Tottenham side, even if you had to go back a year or two to realise what it was. For all inevitable and understandable comparisons with Villas-Boas, this Spurs performance -- if not the end result -- had much more in common with Harry Redknapp's time at White Hart Lane. That was perhaps inevitable given that Sherwood initially came in under the current QPR boss and assumed an increasingly important role under him.

Sherwood opted for a high 4-4-2, with the two wingers occasionally playing so high up that at times, it looked like a 4-2-4. Initially, it was as if the replacement boss seemed a little too desperate to end the recent goal drought. Although his bold approach led to an early flurry of chances in front of a fervent crowd, it didn't take West Ham too long to figure out how to just stand off and frustrate. These were always the limitations of Redknapp's approaches too. An attempt at old-fashioned excitement isn't always the most exacting way to attack in the modern game.

Some of Tottenham's more recent troubles also continued as it still took 67 minutes to get a proper shot on target. Sure, it was the opening goal, but even that needed to go in off the bar and didn't really lead to a new departure. Spurs' struggles in attack continued after the West Ham comeback.

In the end, Sherwood himself is going to have to go back to the training ground. It still feels like integration, and someone figuring out the best way to arrange all of these forwards, is the key to unlocking this team.

Forward thinking from West Ham You wouldn't quite say the levy broke for West Ham United, but a certain weight -- and wait -- was lifted. After so many weeks of so few goals -- just one in their last three matches -- Allardyce's side scored twice in one game for the first time in three weeks and just the seventh time this season.

That the double arrived in the space of five minutes so late on made it all the sweeter, as is the fact that this is the second time this season that they have come to White Hart Lane and put more than one past their local London neighbours. Yet as much value as a manager like Allardyce would place in a trophy like the League Cup, he will only derive genuine benefit from this route to the semi-finals if it offers a bounce in terms of league form too. Such is the curious aspect of a cup run for struggling Premier League sides. You only have to look at Portsmouth in 2010, Birmingham City in 2011 or Wigan Athletic in 2013. The extra demands can occasionally derail a team who are already being stretched.

West Ham's resources are certainly being tested, as Allardyce continues to try and work out a way to make the team not quite so reliant on Andy Carroll. This game didn't quite offer many tactical solutions given that Matt Jarvis' goal was a typical Allardyce flick-on, and match-winner Modibo Maiga hasn't exactly looked like a long-term solution in the Premier League.

Perhaps the longer-term effect regards the mood and confidence of the side. After the recent 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, Allardyce spoke rather frankly about how the lack of an outlet up front had led to a "fear factor" in the rest of the team, creating a hesitancy that affected the defence.

That wasn't the only issue they managed to finally overcome at White Hart Lane, either. Wednesday night's win marked the first time this season that West Ham conceded the game’s first goal, and recovered to claim a positive result. Though it puts them into the last four of the League Cup, that will only really matter to Allardyce if it also helps keep them out of the bottom three of the Premier League.

Emmanuel Adebayor offers the breakthrough, and the first big break from the past The final score ensured it wasn't quite a perfect response, but it was a somewhat predictable one. Tottenham Hotspur's forgotten man provided a genuinely memorable strike and reminded White Hart Lane what it's like to score a goal from open play in a competition other than the Europa League -- even if it didn't offer a win.

Football has a curious if endearing way of lending such stories an apparent sense of fate. Emmanuel Adebayor certainly started this game as if he had a point to prove, and the instinctive manner in which he powered that 67th-minute goal in off the bar certainly didn't reveal any of the rustiness you might have expected from so long on the bench.

Even before that, Adebayor displayed a willingness to get on the ball and work between the lines in a way we haven't seen from too many of Tottenham's isolated attackers this season. It is difficult not to say that kind of extra depth is exactly what Spurs were missing in attack over the past few turgid weeks.

Of course, there are a number of extra layers to the very fact Adebayor scored too. Villas-Boas' treatment of the forward -- who is popular in the Spurs dressing room -- is known to be one of the incidents that got the squad’s back up, and certainly didn’t help as the Portuguese proceeded to raise the eyebrows of an increasing number of players with decisions over the past few months.

Finally, there was the irony that Sherwood could really have done with a fully-fit Adebayor at the end. Not used to so many minutes of late, the No. 10 was hauled off for Lewis Holtby after 77 minutes. Within three minutes the West Ham fightback began and meant that Spurs had no outlet other than the isolated Jermain Defoe for the last five.