Five observations on Tottenham's last gasp 1-0 win at West Ham

Tottenham Huddle

Spurs beat London rivals West Ham with a last minute goal from debutant Eric Dier. Mark Noble had earlier missed a penalty as both sides were reduced to 10 men.

Defensive issues continue to need some work

Tottenham were better at the back than they were last season, but that wasn't difficult considering the Spurs defence were full of errors in the 2013-14 season. There were still problems today, with Rose really struggling to deal with Stewart Downing's ability to cross with either foot, and Younes Kaboul continuing to look short of the player he once was, not to mention Kyle Naughton's penalty. But the key thing was, Spurs kept a clean sheet; even though it came down to Mark Noble missing a penalty, they still kept West Ham out for nearly 45 minutes after that. Mauricio Pochettino still has plenty of work to do with the defence but it isn't an impossible job.

The attacking midfielders need to play more of an active pressing role

One part of the side that needs work, and that vastly differs to Pochettino's group of Southampton players, is the pressing work the attackers do. With Christian Eriksen as one of the three central midfielders there is already less of a chasing threat in that area of the pitch, and the Dane tired today midway through the second half, somewhat understandably so. Until Lewis Holtby and Andros Townsend came on the two wingers were also struggling to get back and chase West Ham's fullbacks and midfield. Aaron Lennon was unable to help Danny Rose deal with Downing in the first half, which caused problem after problem on the left side of the Spurs defence. While Eriksen plays centrally, the wingers have to really work hard to do both the defensive and attacking parts of their game.

Spurs have suffered more than most with harsh red cards over the last couple of years

Tottenham suffered at least two poorly given red cards last season, with Younes Kaboul seeing red against Chelsea and Danny Rose against Manchester Cit, both leading to penalties and subsequently heavy defeats in those fixtures. Those two sending offs were both dismissed on appeal by the club, emphasising that the referee got it wrong, and surely Kyle Naughton's red will also be thrown out after the extremely harsh decision by Chris Foy to show red for his point blank handball. Tottenham were just lucky that the penalty didn't find the back of the net to give them a double punishment. Whether Naughton would play ahead of Dier is another matter entirely.

Dier looks a stellar signing

In Eric Dier's two games since joining Tottenham he has been the club's best defender. In last weekend's friendly win over Schalke the 20-year-old was composed and organised in the centre of defence, but today against West Ham he really starred. After moving to fullback because of Naughton's dismissal, Dier provided a much more resolute right side to the defence than the specialist right back managed, ably dealing with the threat of Ricardo Vaz Te and by the end of the game also venturing forward. His run and finish for the last gasp winner was outstanding skill for a large, powerful centre back, and it is hard to imagine Spurs managed to sign Dier from Sporting for just £4 million. Expect an England cap by the end of the season.

An away win at West Ham will certainly get Pochettino on side with the fans

SEE ALSO: Spurs player ratings from 1-0 win over West Ham: Dier the debut hero, Rose struggles

There's no doubt about it, Tottenham wouldn't have had a hope in this game last season under either Andre Villas-Boas or Tim Sherwood. Both managers lost against West Ham, with May's game at Upton Park seeing Sherwood's side beaten after similarly going down to 10 men. It may be early days for Pochettino, and Spurs didn't put in a good performance, but that slice of fortune and extra resilience is often the making of good managers and good teams. With the Argentine overseeing the arrest of Tottenham's mini losing streak against their London rivals, he will of course instantly be a hero in the eyes of their supporters. 

 

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