Clever tweak from David Moyes pays off as West Ham resilience returns to deny Tottenham

Derby draw: West Ham bounced back from their struggles at Newcastle (AFP via Getty Images)
Derby draw: West Ham bounced back from their struggles at Newcastle (AFP via Getty Images)

Not quite the result David Moyes will have wanted in the aftermath of the weekend’s implosion at Newcastle, but not a million miles off it in terms of a response.

Having gone behind to Brennan Johnson’s goal inside five minutes at the London Stadium, the Hammers showed the resilience so lacking in their 13-minute collapse on Tyneside to fight back and hold Tottenham to a 1-1 draw.

This London derby briefly threatened to be defined by a passage of 72 seconds: Jarrod Bowen missing a simple chance in the centre of the goal at one end and then Johnson converting his from Timo Werner’s cross at the other.

Instead, though, captain Kurt Zouma headed - or rather, tried to, and ended up glancing off his back - into the Spurs goal to equalise on 19 minutes and for much of the remainder of the contest the Hammers looked more likely winners.

From set-pieces, in particular, they troubled an unsure Guglielmo Vicario and had Michail Antonio been in more clinical form they may well have snatched all three points.

For the talk in the build-up around the worrying quality gap between West Ham’s defence and attack, this always looked a contest likely to be settled in midfield, where Moyes has found the absence of Edson Alvarez nigh-on impossible to weather.

Ordinarily, the Scot might have liked to bolster that part if his team here, having watched successive combinations fail to fill the void left by the Mexican whenever he has been unavailable this season.

With Alvarez still suspended, and Kalvin Phillips’s form so deep in the doldrums, though, the Scot had nowhere else to go, in personnel terms at least.

Instead, he made a clever tweak, shifting the roles of James Ward-Prowse and Lucas Paqueta and asking the Brazilian to play in a deeper role, where he excelled for his country at the last World Cup.

Paqueta, clearly, is not a patrolling holder in the Alvarez mould, but he brought security and control in other ways, brave in possession and always willing to play the daring game of risk and reward.

On one occasion, it almost backfired, Spurs stealing the ball on the edge of the Hammers box and Pedro Porro eventually shooting just wide. More often, though, the playmaker’s quality on the ball gave West Ham a foothold and denied Spurs the level of sustained pressure they had enjoyed in a dominant opening spell.

Lucas Paqueta gave West Ham control in midfield (Getty Images)
Lucas Paqueta gave West Ham control in midfield (Getty Images)

Ward-Prowse, for his part, was more effective bringing energy higher up the pitch and intercepting Rodrigo Bentancur’s pass to tee-up a decent opening for Antonio.

Midway through the second-half, the pair combined to make the Hammers’ best chance for a winner, Paqueta breaking up the play on the edge of his own box and then Ward-Prowse launching a terrific pass in behind for Antonio to chase.

The Jamaican had been clever in starting his run from inside his own half and strong in holding off the recovering Micky van de Ven, only to fire his attempted finish straight at Vicario.

Antonio’s departure on 69 minutes had played a significant part in Newcastle’s fightback at the weekend, and not only because it meant the cursed Phillips entering the fray. Without the centre-forward’s physicality, West Ham ceded all initiative and invited the late Toon charge.

Here, even with the 34-year-old looking increasingly leggy, Moyes went extreme in his refusal to make the same error, deciding against a single change all night and asking a tiring team to show the necessary resolve to see the result out.

Unlike at Newcastle, they did just that - and a in a frantic, open ending might even have stolen it themselves.