No lasagna to blame. No scapegoat to point towards - although I saw some attempt berated towards Michael Dawson. We lost in quite emphatic style. I was slowly adjusting to this gritty-just-about-hanging-on Spurs. It was growing on me, slowly becoming an expectation - a reality - would we battle a whole Premier League season biting nails and pulling hair out? No. The rather bewildering defeat to West Ham may ironically be the defeat we needed to kick us into shape. We'd started to look a little lacklustre in our play, lacking that bite in midfield and that emphasis to get the ball into the final third and find that final pass. We buckled miserably against a disciplined West Ham side. We lacked invention at times it was required the most and couldn't break down an ever growing brick wall.
Was it tactical or was it fan pressure? AVB rarely gives away a lot and his introduction to begin Jermain did fathom an element of surprise. He'd been scoring goals. The opposition understandably questionable but in all fairness you can only score against what's in front of you. The issue I found, for me, was that it wasn't the forward that was the issue but the supply for that forward. Eriksen had yet to fully click with Soldado and only time will build this relationship between the two. Defoe mustard a similar frustration, gaining just one clear cut chance in which he should've punished West Ham. His fault, our midfield's fault or West Ham's impeccable tactics? You tell me. As the game progressed Defoe dropped deeper into the number 10 role, relieving West Ham's defence of a forward to keep an eye on, forcing them higher up and making it easier to break.
With Dembele & Paulinho operating similar roles we looked incredibly exposed. Paulinho initially started further forward and made some intelligent runs without being found too much or blazing some abysmal shots way wide of the target. Dembele has played the majority of the season thus far and we could've possibly utilised more bite in the centre as well as a deeper creative outlet. Hotlby's starting to show more of the disciplined player that experienced an early run of successful form for Schalke and this game seemed to be set up nicely in which to start from.
But do we change a winning formula?
Our system remained constant, the players were there but there was no psychological emphasis to win this game. We didn't look bothered. I still fully believe that a 4-2-3-1 is a system that can bring the best out of our players. It's likely we won't know our best 11 until around Christmas. We've barely seen the tip of the Lamela iceberg and Eriksen is still embedding into our style. The problem falls that with so much money invested there's immediate pressure for success. Time is shortening, we naturally demand more as our expectations heighten with so much expenditure.
I wouldn't pin yesterday's defeat down to one particular person. It was an abysmal team performance. Townsend proving one less terrible performance in a team of terrible performances - to put bluntly. So where do we go from now? Sandro? I'd fight the point that Dembele and Paulinho were more than capable of bossing yesterday's midfield but had a severe off day. We'll want a big reaction, expect even and I can only envisage a change or two from AVB.
The international break has probably fallen about on time. We've time to brush ourselves down and regroup in over a week. A bad defeat, maybe the reaction will help shape our season in the long run.