Football Features

Moyes finally beats Mourinho to break ‘Big Six’ hoodoo as West Ham edge Spurs in London derby

By Ben Green

Published: 14:27, 21 February 2021

After a pulsating 90 minutes in the capital West Ham edged Tottenham 2-1 to climb to fourth in the Premier League table.

Goals from Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard were enough to secure all three points for the Hammers, ensuring David Moyes’ men leapfrog Chelsea in the race for European football while piling further misery on Jose Mourinho, whose position in the Spurs dugout is looking very fragile at the minute.

Lucas Moura restored a glimmer of hope for a revival, but West Ham stood strong and held out. So, what did we learn from another vintage London derby between these two clubs?

1. Moyes finally beats Mourinho

At the 16th time of asking Moyes has finally taken all three points off a Mourinho side. The Scot has pitted his wits with the Portuguese for nearly two decades in the Premier League, but only now is he enjoying the sweet taste of victory, and those three points are augmented even further when you peruse the league table.

The Hammers were made to work for maximum reward in the end, but it was a spirited effort to outfox their rivals from across the M25 and it now means Moyes’ men have gone above Chelsea and consolidated their position in the top four, truly uncharted territory for the club at this stage of a season.

To think the Hammers were fighting tooth and nail to stave off the threat of relegation at this time last season only reinforces the sensational job Moyes has done at the London Stadium since returning for his second stint. And he has now capped off what has been a wonderful campaign by finally breaking a personal duck against an illustrious coach.

The result also ensures Spurs have gone winless against the Hammers this term, the first time that has transpired since 2013/14, while the hosts have also subsequently ended a run of three successive defeats on home soil against their northern neighbours.

Moyes has simply transformed West Ham, and they can now dare to dream of European football.

2. Antonio moves ahead of Carlton in ‘favourite’ derby

In seasons gone by an injury to Michail Antonio spelled significant danger to West Ham’s season, but as last week’s 3-0 drubbing of Sheffield United proved, David Moyes has created a side that has progressed far beyond the reliance on just one player. However, that does not mean the fitness of Antonio is not crucial to West Ham’s unexpected aspirations of securing European football, as his contributions this afternoon reflect.

The winger-cum-striker, now exclusively a centre-forward in Moyes’s system, returned for this London derby after missing the visit of Sheff Utd last week, and his impact was instantaneous, netting in the opening exchanges to bring his Premier League tally against Spurs to five goals, his best return against any side in the division.

The strike, an instinctive poacher’s finish after a delectable delivery from Jarrod Bowen, ended a mini-drought of four games for the 30-year-old and edged him ahead of West Ham legend Carlton Cole (41 goals), as the club’s third-most prolific player in the Premier League era (42 goals).

Only Paolo Di Canio and Mark Noble have more, but Antonio is closing in on the duo at a turbo-charged rate and should etch his name in the E20 annals if he continues on his current trajectory.

Antonio famously netted the first away goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and has once again found the back of net in his ‘favourite’ London derby. Spurs must be sick of the sight of him.

3. Lingard haunts former mentor

Jesse Lingard has continued his resurgence in a West Ham shirt, bringing up his third goal since relocating to the capital from Manchester United. While some fans may be surprised by his prolific exploits and just how good he has really been in claret and blue colours, one man who is certainly not shocked by this early purple patch is Mourinho.

The pair struck up quite the relationship at Old Trafford, during which time they won a Europa League and League Cup double, with Lingard netting in the final of the latter. He also notched a career-best 20 direct goal contributions (13 goals, seven assists) in the 2017/18 season, so Mourinho was well aware of Lingard’s threats heading into this contest.

Despite this, Spurs were unable to contain the 28-year-old, who played with a confidence and verve that has so far underpinned his influence in east London, and when the time came really stamp his authority and leave a mark, he doubled West Ham’s advantage with a quite brilliant finish.

Hugo Lloris stretched, but the strike was uncorked with such conviction and accuracy that the Frenchman was unable to get even a modicum of glove to the ball. Many have doubted Lingard in recent months, but Mourinho always believed in the versatile attacker, and now West Ham fans are starting to believe.

4. Bale bouncing back?

When Mourinho called into question a certain Instagram post from Bale in which the Welshman wrote that he enjoyed a “good session”, it was unquestionably the nadir of a so-far disastrous loan spell from Real Madrid, but just over a week later, there are signs that his temporary stint could yet burst into life.

On Thursday Bale scored and assisted in the 4-1 win over Wolfsberger AC in the Europa League, and he has followed up this afternoon with another promising performance, despite the eventual result.

Bale grabbed his first assist in the Premier League since April 2013 against Man City, teeing up Lucas with a pinpoint corner. But, aside from his tangible influence on the scoreline, he was menacing on the right flank and gave Cresswell one of his toughest games of the season.

The Los Blancos loanee was calling for the ball, driving forward with endeavour and whipping balls into the box in trademark fashion. There was a confidence about his play that may suggest he can generate some form for the second half of the campaign. And what about that strike off the bar? A hallmark Bale haymaker that nearly turned the game on its head.

5. West Ham break ‘Big Six’ hoodoo 

West Ham have done what West Ham sides of old have failed to do this season: win games in ‘winnable’ fixtures. So often the Hammers have been struck by a perennial banana skin that seems to linger in east London like a bad smell, but this season they have only lost to one team outside the so-called ‘Big Six’: Newcastle on matchday one.

However, where the Hammers have fallen short this season is in games against the traditional heavyweights. Moyes’ side entered this contest yet to put any ‘Big Six’ side to the sword, and with Spurs on a bit of a nosedive at the minute, many were expecting the north Londonders to stop the rot and for West Ham to retreat into their shell.

Moyes, though, did not approach this game with an inferiority complex. His team sheet reflected a positive outlook towards the game and not the usually sit-back-and-hope-for-the-best approach that has often followed the club.

Even last season West Ham completed the double over Chelsea and beat Man Utd, but this campaign big results against the big clubs have come at a premium. That changed this afternoon and could signal a shift in the power of balance in the capital as West Ham leapfrog Chelsea into fourth.