Martin Keown praises Slaven Bilic’s three-at-the-back decision v Spurs

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Slaven Bilic won the tactical battle as West Ham defeated Spurs.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Martin Keown has praised Slaven Bilic for his decision to counter Tottenham by playing three centre-backs on Wednesday evening.

Keown said: “I think Slaven Bilic did well tactically by switching to a back three. Tottenham have had a lot of success playing with their full backs very high up the pitch but when faced with two wing backs, it becomes a question of who is brave enough to go forward and risk leaving space in behind.”

Bilic opted to play a three-at-the-back system against Spurs, knowing that Mauricio Pochettino would urge his full-backs to push high up the field of play.

Angelo Ogbonna, James Collins and Cheikhou Kouyate started in the centre of defence, with Reece Oxford replacing Collins midway through the second half.

Michail Antonio played an unnatural wing-back role - with all right-backs out injured - and Aaron Cresswell put in his usual marauding performance as a wing-back.

Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang patrolled the midfield, allowing Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Emmanuel Emenike to roam in the attacking positions.

Their defence nullified Tottenham’s usually potent attacking threat, with Spurs managing just two shots on goal in the entire game.

Bilic clearly won the tactical battle against Pochettino, and the result dealt a real blow to Spurs’ ambitions to finish top of the Premier League table.

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