Them 1 Us 0
Out thought and out hassled early on. We froze. Tactics didn't work, theirs did. West Ham played the perfect game. We failed to switch ours on. They scored early and pretty much contained us for the rest of it. We got going in the second half but it wasn't fluid Tottenham. More lumpy than lavish.
In comparison to most of our displays away from home, our full-backs were nullified. We got swamped in midfield. Defence was shaky, including the keeper. Our forward potency was limp. You might also want to use the F-word here. Both of them; fatigued and f*cked. Far too many wasteful opportunities in front of goal. No shape, no party. So congratulations to the hosts. They were focused and well drilled. That's only the second time we've lost on our travels. It's also the end of our six match winning streak in the league.
This doesn't happen often. The disappointment you're feeling right now. If there's one positive somewhere in amongst it all, it's the fact that I have come to loathe losing a game of football - regardless of the opposing side - which is testament (when compared) to the acceptance we embraced for almost a generation.
It's the first downhearted performance we've had in the league. More so than Newcastle or Leicester City or even Stoke, mainly because of the opposition and the occasion. We failed to ignite as a collective. It just felt underwhelming, like we tried really hard and struggled to play at level 2 when we've so often reached level 5.
We didn't show enough of the grit and quality we've become accustomed to seeing and didn't adapt efficiently. We failed to attain comfort and control with our football. Our application kept crashing like a bad installation of Windows. The passing was sloppy and discipline wasn't on point. Neither was our positioning and pressing. It was all out of character. It wasn't terrible it just weren't up to scratch. They gave it to us more than we gave it to them and when we gave it them it just didn't click. End product was more blue screen than high definition.
/worlds smallest violin plays
The timing is, well, awkward. Call it a lapse, a momentary lull. Call it b*llocks.
We should have given a far better account of ourselves. We threw loads of jabs and forgot about the uppercuts. Looks like the Hammers landed a few of their own, on and off the pitch. Another chapter for their history books and club merchandise off the back of our name. I guess there is still a charitable element to our psyche we really need to think about eliminating.
Suck it up and move on, right?
I'm not prepared to start calling out Mauricio Pochettino for getting it wrong (which he might have) or that we're in desperate need for the mythical second-striker (which could have made a difference). All the evidence this season suggests we still have the fortitude to pick ourselves up and keep going. It's one game. Three points. It's not end of days. This wasn't Spurs choking or bottling it. It was Spurs below par. It's sh*t but there you go. The team will change for the weekend and we might yet be entertained with a more solid line-up and formation.
There's ten games left with top spot still within the reach of the few that dare to look up. Once again the onus is on how we bounce back. That's the mother of all bounce-backs this Saturday. The players and coach have spoken often about their attitude and the never say die ethos. Those words need to find form with actions. Redemption awaits.
The evening was summed up by the footballing Gods and their wonderful sense of humour. Arsenal and Manchester City also both lost. It's like this Wednesday has been written off, a lost opportunity. It's a sacrifice none of us can afford to make again. Although it could easily be repeated between now and May which means the twists and turns will keep on coming and our hearts will be chewed as they sit bloody and ruined in our mouths.
We need to regain the conviction we've shown through-out the entirety of the season. This defeat was the slap in the face with a glove before the duel. We can't rely on others to drop points and surrender form. The biggest test of the season is now upon us. What happens next is the beginning of the end or the start of something beautiful.
In some twisted way, a defeat helps to remind everyone what's at stake, regardless of the detachment the players have with admitting publicly about winning the title. Deep down, privately, they know as well as we do that this is now the end game. They will want to reclaim the momentum. There is no other choice. I know they're capable because everything they've accomplished this season is believable. They've come this far. They're so close. All the conditioning, physically and mentally, it's built the platform we currently stand on. The only way we lose our balance is if we look down.
The narrative won't care much for apologetic reasoning and excuses. It will demand concrete evidence as it politely asks for someone to step forward and own it. From the pre-match prep and tactics board to the stud ruined turf and chanting from the stands. Who believes? Who has the guts and the guile to land the knock-out punch?
Nothing has changed. It's still on. It re-starts on Saturday. 12:45.