‘I’d like joystick to control players’ – Postecoglou rues Spurs draw

Brennan Johnson makes it 1-0

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said he would like a “joystick” to control his players like in a video game after they were held by West Ham.

The Spurs boss was left frustrated as his side missed the chance to move into the Premier League top four with the draw at a rain-soaked London Stadium.

Brennan Johnson’s tap-in put them ahead after five minutes, but the Hammers levelled when Kurt Zouma headed home from a corner.

Both sides showed endeavour but lacked a cutting edge as the spoils were shared.

Despite having 68% possession Spurs only had four shots on target, including Johnson’s early opener and Destiny Udogie volleying straight at home goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in second-half stoppage time.

They never looked likely to achieve the two-goal margin of victory they needed to overtake fourth-placed Aston Villa, who face Manchester City on Wednesday at Etihad Stadium.

Postecoglou’s side remain fifth, two points behind Villa, and the Australian said his team missed “clarity of thought” at times in attack.

‘We have more time than we think’

When asked why they lacked that clarity, Postecoglou said: “Because they’re human beings, mate, it’s just football.

“I’d like to have a joystick and put them where I want but it doesn’t work that way. My role is to try to help them through that.

“At times, we have more time than we think. We scored a great goal but there are times the ball is flashed across when we should have been in those areas. It’s things to work on.”

Tottenham led when Johnson – brought in as one of three changes to the Spurs starting line-up from Saturday’s win over Luton – turned in from close range after Timo Werner was allowed space to get in behind the left side of West Ham’s defence to fire in a low cross.

But West Ham responded well, and their tactics of swinging in corners to put Spurs goalkeeper Gigi Vicario under pressure worked when Jarrod Bowen’s 19th-minute set-piece was nodded in from five yards by Zouma.

The Hammers came closest to finding a winner after the break, but Michail Antonio shot straight at Vicario after the Jamaican international had overpowered Micky van de Ven to get one-on-one with the keeper.

West Ham stay seventh as both Newcastle and Wolves failed to win and overhaul David Moyes’ side in the Europa Conference League qualification place.

Vicario impresses but set-piece struggles continue

With the promise of fourth place on offer, Spurs came out of the traps quicker than in recent games.

Their fifth-minute opener came after their previous 12 league goals were all scored in the second halves of matches, a run dating back to 3 February.

But an old weakness reared its head again as they conceded from a corner dropped on top of Vicario, who had twice punched unconvincingly at earlier set-pieces.

The Italian has largely impressed following his move from Empoli last summer and made more crucial saves here – flying to his left for a two-handed stop from a James Ward-Prowse first-half free-kick and then denying Antonio twice after the break.

But corners remain a weakness which he and Spurs must address.

Bowen shines but defensive frailties hurt Hammers

Moyes will have wanted a response from West Ham after the galling 4-3 defeat at Newcastle, having been two goals ahead with 15 minutes remaining. Despite the early goal conceded, his team delivered.

“I genuinely thought we didn’t deserve to go behind,” Moyes told TNT Sports. “But the players did a good job.

“We had a threat and so did they – they are a good side and that’s why they are challenging for the Champions League. Maybe a draw was the right result in the end.

“I’m sure after the way we played on the weekend, to see the way the defence played [here], we looked much more organised. We had set-pieces, we had chances, so overall hopefully it will give us good confidence.”

Things had looked positive when Mohammed Kudus pressed high to win the ball back near the Spurs area, before crossing from the left for Bowen to fire wide from a good position.

Seconds later the Hammers switched off in defence and Spurs led, another example of the frailties which have frustrated fans in this campaign.

Moyes’ men have now conceded 55 league goals this season, the same number as the whole of 2022-23, and are without a clean sheet in 11 matches.

But there is clearly some fire in this West Ham side, sparked by the inspirational Bowen who raised a taunting fist in defiance at the away fans after delivering the dead-ball routine for Zouma’s equaliser.

The hosts went on to create the better chances, but could not find the winner.

Line-ups

West Ham

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Fabianski
  • 5Coufal
  • 15Mavropanos
  • 4Zouma
  • 33Emerson
  • 20Bowen
  • 10Lucas Paquetá
  • 28Soucek
  • 7Ward-Prowse
  • 14Kudus
  • 9AntonioBooked at 53mins

Substitutes

  • 2Johnson
  • 3Cresswell
  • 11Phillips
  • 17Cornet
  • 18Ings
  • 21Ogbonna
  • 40Earthy
  • 45Mubama
  • 49Anang

Tottenham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13Vicario
  • 23Porro
  • 17RomeroBooked at 89mins
  • 37van de VenBooked at 44mins
  • 38Udogie
  • 8BissoumaSubstituted forHøjbjergat 82′minutes
  • 30BentancurBooked at 61minsSubstituted forSarrat 70′minutes
  • 22JohnsonBooked at 74minsSubstituted forLo Celsoat 90′minutes
  • 10MaddisonSubstituted forKulusevskiat 70′minutes
  • 16WernerSubstituted forRicharlisonat 82′minutes
  • 7Son Heung-min

Substitutes

  • 5Højbjerg
  • 6Dragusin
  • 9Richarlison
  • 12Emerson Royal
  • 18Lo Celso
  • 21Kulusevski
  • 29Sarr
  • 33Davies
  • 40Austin

Referee:
John Brooks

Match Stats

Live Text

Post update

Match ends, West Ham United 1, Tottenham Hotspur 1.

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