Son Heung-min missing…Tottenham lose first pre-season game 2-3 to West Ham [PL review]

With Son Heung-min missing from the roster altogether, his Tottenham Hotspur side lost to fellow Premier League side West Ham United in their first match of the 2023/24 preseason.

Enzi Postecoglou’s side battled back from two goals down in the second half of a pre-season friendly at Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia, on Aug. 18, but conceded a 33rd-minute winner from striker Gianluca Scimacca to lose 2-3. Tottenham finished eighth in the Premier League last season. West Ham finished 14th, but instead finished at the top of the UEFA Europa League.

While Spurs were coming off a long road trip, the Hammers were fresh off a 6-2 win over local Australian professional team Perth Glory three days earlier. Reflecting this, the Hammers struggled throughout the first half and went down by a goal.

The game was notable for the omission of Son Heung-min, who had appeared on behalf of Tottenham in a press conference the day before. Tottenham have yet to comment.

In the meantime, Postecoglou named a starting lineup that featured a number of new faces. With Italy international Guglielmo Vicario, Spurs’ first signing of the summer, in goal, Tottenham lined up Sergio Reggilon, Japhet Tanganga, Christian Romero, and Pedro Foro in the back four, while the midfield featured James Maddison, Yves Bissouma, and Oliver Skipp from Leicester City.

Harry Kane, who has been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich, started in the center of the park, with Dejan Kulusevski and Manor Solomon on the left and right.

On the other side of the ball, West Ham had Polish international goalkeeper Krzysztof Fabianski in goal. Emerson Palmieri, Angelo Ogbonna, Kurt Zouma, and Levi Lang formed the back four. Pablo Fornals, Flynn Downs, Freddie Potts, and Jared Boyne started in midfield, with Danny Ings and Divin Muamba up top.

At the start of the game, Tottenham were clearly out of sorts. First and foremost, they struggled to get the ball to their newest signing, England international 사설토토 attacking midfielder Maddison.

As a result, they conceded a relatively early goal in the 18th minute. Bowen’s cross from the left flank was headed in by Ince from the left side of the penalty area. He left the space at the far post unguarded and slotted home.

Tottenham’s woes continued five minutes later. In the 23rd minute, Fornals’ cross from the left touchline was met by Muamba on the right side of the penalty area with a simple header. From there, West Ham’s veteran goalkeeper Fabianski put on a show of saves. The Spurs offense struggled to get past Fabianski, who saved a curling effort from new signing Manor.

After going into halftime trailing 0-2, Spurs made 11 changes at the start of the second half in an attempt to fight back and eventually draw level at 2-2. In the 23rd minute, Ivan Perisic, who had moved down the right flank, sent a left-footed cross into the box that center-back Davinson, who had been involved in the attack, struggled to get his head to, and Giovanni Rosselló slotted home a left-footed volley to complete the comeback.

It was the first goal of the game for Roselló, who spent last season on loan at Villarreal in the Spanish La Liga, as he looks to reestablish himself at Tottenham. Three minutes later, Perisic’s right-footed corner was met by Destiny Udoji, back on loan from Udinese, with a back-header from the near post that rattled the West Ham net and put the game out of reach. Perisic, who was considered a revelation last season, showed that he still has a useful left foot.

But that was as close as Spurs would get.

Substitute Skrtelka scored the winner in the 33rd minute with a calm curler from the edge of the penalty area on his only chance of the game. Tottenham poured forward afterward, with key players such as Heucharlison, but ultimately failed to find a way back into the game.

The game gave Spurs’ new manager, Postecoglou, a taste of the attacking, back-four-based style of play he pursued at Celtic. However, he said that the problems that plagued the back four last season, such as lapses in defensive concentration and allowing the back four to break through, need to be addressed.

After the game against West Ham, Tottenham will begin their pre-season schedule in earnest. The club travels to Bangkok, Thailand, to take on Leicester City, who dropped to the second tier in the new season, on March 23 at 7 p.m., before traveling to Singapore to take on local professional team Ryan City on March 26. Spurs then return to London to host Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in a charity match and pre-season home rehearsal on March 6. They will then finish their warm-up with a 3pm kick-off against FC Barcelona on the 9th.

Tottenham’s 2023/24 Premier League opener is away to Brentford on August 13 at 10pm. They then host Manchester United in their home opener at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 20.

Meanwhile, Postecoglou said of Son’s omission, “He’s only had two training sessions,” and that it was out of respect for him as he flew straight from South Korea to Australia.

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