Tottenham developing alarming habit after West Ham defeat extends winless run

Spurs were makers of their own downfall on Thursday night (Action Images via Reuters)
Spurs were makers of their own downfall on Thursday night (Action Images via Reuters)

Tottenham are developing an alarming habit of failing to build on promising positions after squandering another lead in a deeply frustrating 2-1 defeat to West Ham, which extended Ange Postecoglou's winless run to five matches.

In each of those games, Spurs were well-placed to add to an early goal -- on this occasion a looping header from the returning Cristian Romero -- but failed to take their chances and paid a heavy price.

Just as they did against Chelsea, Wolves, Aston Villa and Manchester City, Spurs allowed West Ham back into the game and were undone by a combination of misfortune and sloppiness after the break.

Jarrod Bowen capitalised on an enormous slice of luck to fire West Ham level at the start of the second half, and James Ward-Prowse scored the winner after Destiny Udogie's under-hit back-pass and pressure from Bowen forced Guglielmo Vicario off his line.

The pattern will deeply frustrate Postecoglou, although the Australian already knows the cause of his side's problem: their clunky attacking play.

It was easy to look at Spurs defending, notably Udogie's disastrous ball back to Vicario, and under a coach like Jose Mourinho or even Antonio Conte, failing to protect a 1-0 lead at home would be put squarely down to the side's defending.

Under Postecoglou, the opposite is true: Spurs do not really have major defensive problems, they have problems in attack.

Even if they had still conceded two against the Hammers, had they had taken the lion's share of their chances, Postecoglou's would have still come away with three points.

The same was true in their last home game, a defeat by Villa by a same scoreline, when Spurs missed chance after first-half chance.

Postecoglou is under no illusions about their profligacy and used his pre-match press conference to emphasise more than once that Spurs still have enormous room for improvement in front of goal.

If -- or perhaps when -- they click, Spurs will clearly be a great side because some of their build-up play here was again outstanding at times.

Giovani Lo Celso moved the ball particularly well and probed for openings, but Spurs were always missing a yard here, a touch there.

Brennan Johnson could not make the most of some promising positions, while Lukasz Fabianski saved well from Lo Celso and Kurt Zouma turned the Argentine's dangerous cross behind off the frame of his own goal. Richarlison, a sub at 1-1, headed just wide when he should have scored.

Richarlison should have scored with the score at 1-1 (Action Images via Reuters)
Richarlison should have scored with the score at 1-1 (Action Images via Reuters)

Heung-min Son was quiet and Dejan Kulusevski less impactful back on the right wing.

If Spurs were wasteful at 1-0, they were not cute enough after West Ham's first and especially seconds goals, missing the speed and ingenuity of James Maddison.

It bears repeating that they were missing nine senior players but they still felt like the makers of their own downfall.

Although Spurs have appeared to lose little momentum during their losing run up until now, this defeat felt like the most damaging of their poor run because it was against a rival, so self-inflicted and ultimately so familiar.

Postecoglou is all about attacking and Spurs must find more fluidity in the final third or risk more of these games going forward.