Another trophy dream over as West Ham pay the price for lack of Antonio back-up and a defensive injury crisis

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  • West Ham United
    West Ham United
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  • Michail Antonio
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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A perfect storm of injury, suspension and illness hit West Ham as David Moyes’s thin squad fell to defeat at rivals Tottenham.

The East Londoners, looking to reach a first semi-final since 2014, were already without a trio of key men at the back through injury while Vladimir Coufal was suspended.

To add to all their issues at the back, Michail Antonio was then revealed to have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of kick-off.

Adding up all the absentees Moyes was left wanting at the back and going forward and, despite Jarrod Bowen’s best efforts to lead the line, it showed.

The visitors were sloppy at the back throughout the first-half and then, having solved that problem, could not take advantage of their second-half dominance after the break as they lacked a natural striker up top.

A scrappy first-half was sparked into life across five frantic minutes as Spurs took, lost and then regained the lead in the blink of an eye - sloppy play at either end letting the forwards in.

Declan Rice and those around him allowed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg far too much time to exchange passes with Steven Bergwijn from the edge of the area before the Dane drove in behind and cut back for the Dutchman to open the scoring.

West Ham hit back quickly, Tomas Soucek forcing two acrobatic saves from Hugo Lloris before Bowen managed to get one past the Spurs captain with some fine footwork.

Bowen, standing in for Antonio through the middle, did well to control a wayward shot from Nikola Vlasic before turning Eric Dier - who had handed West Ham possession moments earlier - and firing the visitors level.

Their elation would not last long though as Bergwijn turned provider, driving past Manuel Lanzini and cutting back for Lucas Moura, who forced his way through a number of claret and blue shirts to fire home.

Moyes sorted his side after the break, managing to restrict Spurs to very few openings as the Hammers dominated possession.

Without Antonio to stretch the Tottenham back line and bully defenders in order to create space, however, West Ham struggled to create any clear cut openings. Said Benrahma was introduced and added some energy, giving the Spurs backline some issues as he flashed a volley wide of the far post.

Bowen worked hard in leading the line but cannot fulfil the role as Antonio does. It was unfortunate that Moyes went without his senior striker, but the club must take the blame for not having a viable alternative, something which must be addressed next month.

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