West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Winners and Losers from Upton Park
Eric Dier scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to lift Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-0 win away to West Ham United on Saturday.
Both sides had been reduced to 10 men during the match, but despite playing more than half-an-hour with the man advantage the Hammers were unable to make a breakthrough against their city rivals.
No doubt Sam Allardyce will come in for criticism after the defeat, especially as the West Ham boss waited until the 81st minute to introduce striker Enner Valencia.
But there were other takeaways from the encounter as well, and over the next few slides we’ll highlight just a few of the winners and losers from the opening-day contest at Upton Park.
Winner: Cheikhou Kouyate, Who Shone in His Debut
Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate were West Ham’s high-profile pre-season signings, but neither started Saturday’s Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.
But Cheikhou Kouyate did, and over the course of the 90 minutes the Senegal international put in an effort that will no doubt keep him in manager Sam Allardyce’s first-team plans going forward.
Kouyate touched the ball 60 times at Upton Park—misplacing just a single pass (statistics courtesy WhoScored.com). He also threw himself into five tackles and made an important, second-half track-back to deny Harry Kane.
Loser: The Match Officials, Who Got the Kyle Naughton Ejection Wrong
Kyle Naughton should have never been sent off.
Sure, the Tottenham full-back committed a handball offense in the 29th minute, but it was more a case of the ball being drilled at him than purposefully stopping it with his palm.
Nevertheless, referee Chris Foy took his assistant’s advice and gave the 25-year-old his marching orders.
It was the wrong decision.
Winner: Aaron Cresswell, Who Excelled at Left-Back
Another West Ham debutant who impressed on Saturday was left-back Aaron Cresswell.
The 24-year-old had little trouble containing both Christian Eriksen and Aaron Lennon, and on the offensive side of play he combined nicely with each of Kouyate, Ricardo Vaz Te and Stewart Downing.
Cresswell joined the Hammers from Ipswich back in early July, and at this point his acquisition would seem to be an inspired piece of business.
Loser: Mark Noble, Who Missed from the Spot
Mark Noble should have put West Ham in front when he took a penalty kick on the half-hour mark.
It was he who was charged with capitalising on the Naughton hand-ball, but the 27-year-old couldn’t even hit the target from 12 yards as he pulled his shot wide of the left-hand corner.
Generally, Noble’s distribution was excellent on Saturday, but his penalty miss was a key point in the match.
Winner: Hugo Lloris, Who Allowed Spurs a Chance
After starting brightly at Upton Park, Spurs eventually went on the back-foot and were easily second-best by the time Naughton was ejected.
Still, they were able to remain in the contest until the very end thanks to a heroic performance from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The France number-one made four saves on the day, including a pair of important stops on Kouyate and Noble.
Loser: Sam Allardyce, Who Didn’t Go for It
Sam Allardyce’s reputation as a defensive, long-ball specialist was hardly enhanced on Saturday.
With his side on the front-foot and enjoying a numerical advantage, he nevertheless failed to introduce another striker until the 81st minute, by which point there was little time for substitute Valencia to make a difference.
He also kept playmaker Mauro Zarate on the bench throughout, despite an obvious need for creativity on the pitch.
Winner: Eric Dier, Who Netted the Winner on His Debut
Talk about a memorable Premier League debut.
Eric Dier, who joined Spurs from Sporting Lisbon earlier this month, had a mostly solid afternoon in the centre of the visiting defense, although it was his heroics in second-half stoppage time that will no doubt generate headlines.
Timing his run perfectly, the 20-year-old latched onto Harry Kane’s pass, rounded goalkeeper Adrian and slid the ball into the gaping net for the late winner.