West Ham United’s sensational comeback Carabao Cup fourth-round victory over Tottenham Hotspur was the result of a real team effort.
After external criticism targeting a perceived lack of fitness in the Hammers ranks following Friday’s home defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion, official Opta statistics revealed West Ham outran their opponents at Wembley by more than 2,700m, covering 114.17km to Spurs’ 111.48km.
West Ham also ran 8.35km at high intensity, compared to Tottenham’s 7.68km. While the two teams’ sprint statistics were almost identical – 1,724m to 1,725m – the Hammers outsprinted Mauricio Pochettino’s side by 799m to 694m during their resurgent second half.
No player on either side covered more sprint (327m) or high-intensity (1,318m) metres than two-goal Andre Ayew, with the Ghanaian’s 662m of high-intensity running in the second half an amazing 180m higher than Spurs right wing-back Kieran Trippier in second place, and 298m further than the next-highest Hammer, Edimilson Fernandes.
Indeed, while Ayew and Angelo Ogbonna got the goals, every player in Claret and Blue stepped up to the plate during the Hammers’ revival. After an opening 45 minutes which saw them concede twice and rarely test the Spurs defence, Slaven Bilic’s team were a different proposition after the break.
Of West Ham’s seven shots on target, five came in the second half and four of them led either directly or indirectly to goals, with Ayew converting his first goal after Edimilson Fernandes’ fine half-volley was parried by Michel Vorm.
It should come as no surprise that West Ham’s three goals all resulted from crosses from the left, seeing as the Hammers launched 48 percent of their attacks down that flank.
With Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini combining to good effect, with support from left centre-half Angelo Ogbonna, West Ham clearly targeted an area filled by the attack-minded Kieran Trippier and young Argentine defender Juan Foyth.
With the above in mind, unsurprisingly Lanzini had more touches, 86, than any other West Ham player, and registered two assists, followed by Cresswell’s 68, Mark Noble’s 67 and Ayew’s 65.
The Hammers were generally good on the ball overall, too, with Andy Carroll the only outfield player with a pass-completion of less than 86.5 percent.
Match-winner Ogbonna had the best completion percentage of the starters, with a near-perfect 97.3 percent. The Italian completed 36 of the 37 passes he attempted, while defensive partner Declan Rice completed 27 out of 28.
Defensively, West Ham gave it absolutely everything in the second half, with ten of their 16 successful aerial battles coming in the final 30 minutes. Seven were won by Carroll, including the header which led to Lanzini’s cross for Ayew’s equaliser, while Ogbonna won four and Ayew himself three.
The Hammers made 39 clearances. Centre-backs Ogbonna, Kouyate and Rice made 22 between them, while no fewer than eleven individual players made at least one clearance.
Teenager Rice, playing as the middle centre-back, led the way with four interceptions, while Fernandes, Noble and Byram made three each, and the Hammers made 21 interceptions in total, while Spurs made just six.
Behind them, Adrian was at his eye-catching best, making four vital saves to first keep his team in the game and, later, keep them on level terms and maintain their advantage.
The Spaniard’s first stop came on 18 minutes when he made an instinctive one-handed save to keep out Dele Alli’s header and keep Spurs’ lead down to 1-0. Then, moments after Andre Ayew had drawn the Hammers level at 2-2, Adrian made another decisive save from Alli’s volley.
Having raced 80 yards to celebrate Ogbonna’s winner, the No13 showed his concentration had not waivered by pushing Moussa Sissoko’s curler to safety. And finally, with full-time approaching, he dived to his right to push Ben Davies’ goal-bound effort aside.
All in all, the Hammers showed yet again that, when their backs are against the wall, and with Ayew leading the charge, they really are West Ham United.