Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed their most comfortable win of the season so far as a Jermain Defoe brace helped them to an easy 3-1 win over a lacklustre West Ham United in which the scoreline flattered the visitors.
The match began as one-way traffic for the home side, but despite Tottenham's domination, they struggled to put together too many passing moves, instead reliant on the directness of Jermain Defoe to try to find an early breakthrough. The striker had a pair of chances in the opening ten minutes, but blazed one shot wide and hit the other directly at Jussi Jaaskelainen.
West Ham might've looked like they were just having a nervy start to the game, but it continued for longer and longer. Gareth Bale almost opened the scoring when he left Mark Noble and slammed a shot against the bar, before Clint Dempsey drove narrowly wide shortly afterwards as the Hammers backline crumbled.
It was a poor day for West Ham, but none moreso than their forwards, who were isolated and anonymous. Andy Carroll was virtually absent and unable to impose his strength on the Tottenham defenders, while Modibo Maiga's performance was summed up by his withdrawal after just 33 minutes, with no sign of an injury.
As the half wore on, Spurs continued to dominate but the scores remained level, and it began to look as if André Villas-Boas' bad luck and frustrating performances would continue for another game. Yet as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon began to impose themselves on the game, a breakthrough was imminent. It came just before half-time, with Jermain Defoe scoring an absolute peach, skipping infield from the right before smashing a ferocious effort past Jaaskelainen.
After half-time, there was little change in proceedings, with Gareth Bale continuing to light up the ground on the base of Tottenham's domination. After going close with a free-kick from 35 yards out, with Jaaskelainen beaten, and testing the keeper further with another fierce effort from range, he managed to double Spurs' lead. Clint Dempsey, finally looking the player he did last season, rattled the bar for a second time before flicking a pass over the static West Ham backline for Gareth Bale to collect and slide into the net.
Shortly afterwards, Tottenham made sure with another goal from Jermain Defoe, Clint Dempsey again involved to play Aaron Lennon into the danger zone before the winger coolly squared the ball to leave Defoe with a simple finish.
The game was over from then on, but West Ham gave the scoreline some undeserved respectability late on, the hitherto-anonymous Carroll ending his 14-match dry spell by clambering above Michael Dawson to head in a consolation for the Hammers.
Despite that late goal, the game will have been a pleasant experience to Spurs fans and André Villas-Boas, who are starting to see their plan come together. They were aided by a rotten display from the Hammers, but Clint Dempsey's excellent performance, along with good displays from Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe, will give them a renewed confidence that they have what it takes to finish fourth, particularly with their last substitution: the return of the much-missed Moussa Dembele to the team. For West Ham, it seemed that they had been in a false position in the league so far, and they will probably soon slide back down into something more realistic, but if they do not play better than they did today, it may be the relegation zone.