West Ham's low block is Postecoglou's worst nightmare

5 Dec 2023

Alex Keble says the Hammers' style of play is what's most effective against Spurs' system

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Alex Keble previews Spurs v West Ham.

The 3-3 draw at Man City was vindication of Ange Postecoglou’s methodology and a clear sign that his Tottenham Hotspur team need not change for anyone, injury crisis or no injury crisis.

But despite all the positives at the Etihad Stadium, Spurs are still winless in four Premier League matches, and another defeat on Thursday evening could leave them only two points ahead of Brighton & Hove Albion in eighth.

West Ham are not the type of opponents Spurs will want to face right now. David Moyes’s deep line of engagement and focus on counter-attacks is the tactical approach Postecoglou’s football is most vulnerable against.

Spurs have held at least 65 per cent possession in four league matches this season, and have struggled in each one. It took two goals in stoppage time to claim a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. Crystal Palace were beaten 2-1 but Spurs recorded an Expected Goals (xG) tally of just 1.1. Luton were narrowly defeated 1-0, and Brentford got a 2-2 draw.

Spurs' late goals to beat Sheff Utd

West Ham will be a similar opponent to these four. The Hammers rank second in the Premier League for progressive carries played against them, with 343, and third for progressive passes played against them, with 689, indicating how deep they sit.

Spurs don’t like facing a low block. What’s more, they can be vulnerable to counters of the sort fired into the channels for Jarrod Bowen, the area which Spurs' full-backs vacate in order to join the central midfielders.

Spurs have faced 73 switches of play, more than any other team, while West Ham have played 66 switches, more than anyone else.

When the ball is turned over, West Ham could quickly play diagonals out to their wingers in search of space behind Spurs' marauding full-backs. It may be the defining tactical battle of an awkward match for the hosts.

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