Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tottenham In Virgin Territory After Beating West Ham 2-1

The two smallest players on the pitch combined to give the Tottenham Hotspur all three points at Upton Park today, but they had to thank West Ham's Carlton Cole for one of the strangest passes in football history before they got back into the game.

Spurs now move into unknown territory thanks to their third win in the opening three games of the new Premiership season, something the club hasn't achieved since the 1960/61 season, the year Spurs became the first team to do the double.

Carlton Cole gave West Ham a deserved lead in this scrappy affair with a thunderbolt volley that nestled into Carlo Cudicini's top corner, but a of goal from the on-form Jermaine Defoe and another from Aaron Lennon gifted all three points to the returning Harry Redknapp.

The game had somewhat of a cloud over it after Hammers defender Callum Davenport was attacked in his home on Friday night. Gianfranco Zola made it known in his first address to television that the player was in a serious but stable condition following emergency surgery.

Both sides made only forced changes to the sides that won last time out, and it was the away side who, as expected, forced the game.

Despite this, the game soon settled into a series of niggling challenges between the two teams who looked liked they had no love lost for each other. The pick of the challenges by Cudicini were buried into the back of the net by Carlton Cole.

Spurs began to get on top of the game, forcing the Hammers to give away some in disciplined free kicks in dangerous positions. It was from one of these that Spurs went closest to opening the scoring when Ledley King climbed highest to reach a Modric free kick, only to see his effort cannon off the crossbar.

With Spurs marginally on top of a game that was going nowhere fast, West Ham shot straight out of the blocks after half time and stunned Spurs with a brilliantly taken goal from Carlton Cole.

Cole had his back to goal and was being tightly marked by Bassong but he flicked the ball up with his left foot turned and caught the ball in mid-air to send a 22yard Exocet missile towards the top corner.

The goal was a thing of sheer beauty, and gave a reminder to everyone that Cole has the potential to get to South Africa next Summer. (1-0)

Moments later, Cole gave the biggest reason as to why he probably won't be in South Africa next Summer with an amazing pass that caught everyone out except Jermaine Defoe, who equalized for Spurs.

Confused? So was everyone else watching the match.

Carlton Cole, 45 yards from his own goal and under no pressure whatsoever, decided to pass the ball back to Robert Green in the West Ham goal. His amazing 40 yard pass caught everyone except Defoe by surprise and he raced through on an open goal to fire Spurs back into the match. (1-1)

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of West Ham and Spurs began to get on top. The game once again descended into another series of clashes, resulting in a couple of stern talks from the referee to both teams.

Shortly after Aaron Lennon raced onto a pass from Vedran Corluka, as he cut inside Spector, the American slipped and left the goal at the wingers mercy.

Lennon has been in imperious form for Spurs since last Christmas. His finish was surgical precision at it's best, as he slotted home into the bottom corner to win the game for Spurs (1-2).

West Ham played well in this match. Carlton Cole looks like he will continue on in the same vein as last year, and newly-signed Jiminez looks to be an excellent player. With this current team, the Hammers should be very comfortable in mid-table come May, unless they are forced to sell key players.

For Spurs, it marks the first steps into virgin territory. Spurs have not won their opening three games to a league campaign since 1960. By beating West Ham away, they answered the first question they have been posed this season: Do they have the bottle when their football is not working?

They will face tougher and better opposition than West Ham this season, but for the moment, let them rejoice in their spot on top of the league, because we all know that it won't last.

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