Football Features

“It’s happened again” – ‘Unacceptable’ Tottenham make unwanted Premier League history as miserable run continues

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:42, 7 December 2023

Tottenham Hotspur’s goalscoring curse continued as they were beaten 2-1 by West Ham United in the Premier League on Thursday night.

Things were going so well for Ange Postecoglou. After 10 games, Tottenham were top of the Premier League still unbeaten, one of two teams still to taste defeat. Their 11th game was against Chelsea at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and everyone expected them to extend their unbeaten record.

But something on that early November night changed the course of Tottenham’s season. After taking the lead early on as part of a fast start, Tottenham ended the game with nine-men, a couple of injuries and a 4-1 defeat.

A blip, of course, but surely Tottenham would recover. But, as everyone knows, they haven’t. Tottenham are now without a win in five Premier League matches, losing four with just one draw.

That alone would be a damning stat, with defeats to Wolves, Aston Villa and West Ham joining the loss against Chelsea and sole draw with Manchester City. But to make it so much worse, Tottenham have taken the lead in all five of their games.

Tottenham scoring first isn’t a surprise. Cristian Romero’s great header from Pedro Porro’s corner was the ninth consecutive Premier League game in which Postecoglou’s side have taken the lead. Funnily enough, the last time Tottenham didn’t score first, they still kind of did, with Romero scoring an own goal for Arsenal in the 2-2 draw back in September.

The first four games of that run all brought victories, against Liverpool, Luton, Fulham and Crystal Palace. But now, even when playing well in the first half, Tottenham just can’t seem to finish games.

Three of the goals conceded against Chelsea came in the second half — with the obvious caveat of having two more players on the pitch — while both of Wolves’ strikes came in second-half injury time. Against Aston Villa, there was a goal in each half and Tottenham were unable to recover after Ollie Watkins’ strike on the hour mark.

At least against Man City they did fight back to draw, ending the losing streak and avoiding becoming the first ever Premier League side to lose four consecutive matches having scored first.

But there would be no such recovery on Thursday night. Both of West Ham’s goals were avoidable. The first did come via a bit of luck as Mohammed Kudus’ shot rebounded twice before falling to Jarrod Bowen, who calmly finished. There was really do doubt about him doing that, with Bowen now having scored in seven consecutive Premier League away games. Only two other players have achieved that feat, with Bowen drawing level alongside Sergio Aguero and now just two off Robin van Persie.

While the first did have a bit of bad luck for Tottenham, the second was a real error. Destiny Udogie’s backpass was undercooked and Guglielmo Vicario just about beat Bowen to the ball, but he could only push to the ball to James Ward-Prowse. The midfielder hit the post with his first shot but placed his second effort well to avoid Bowen and any potential offside call.

Tottenham pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t find it, condemning them to another defeat and a piece of unwanted Premier League history. They are the first side in Premier League history to score first in five successive games and win none of them. They are also the first side to lose three consecutive home matches in the Premier League having scored first in all three.

Postecoglou’s men have now dropped 16 points from winning positions this season, more than any other team in Europe’s top seven divisions.

“It’s happened again” sang West Ham fans after Ward-Prowse gave them the lead, and somewhere in Los Angeles Giorgio Chiellini must have been sitting with a smile on his face. Everyone remembers the line, immortalised on social media, when Chiellini spoke of the “history of Tottenham” as his Juventus side came from behind to knock the Londoners out of the Champions League in March 2018.

“They always create many chances and score so much but, in the end, they miss always something to arrive at the end. We believe in history,” he added on that fateful night.

Tottenham captain Son Heung-min was particularly scathing in his analysis of the time, telling Amazon Prime Sport: “Deserved better or not it doesn’t mean anything. We lost the game, which is unacceptable.

“You get the lead five times in a row and losing the game I think it’s unacceptable and as a player [we] should take responsibility. West Ham have always been tough to play against so we knew what was coming, but we were soft.

“Especially in the Premier League, even when you’re winning 2-0, 3-0, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the end. 1-0 is not enough, you have to try to kill the game.”