Transfer frenzy calmed as old guard Soucek and Antonio deliver


t is not easy, when the Premier League’s new best thing is already racking up the hat-tricks the way normal people accumulate supermarket bags for life.

But with English football’s biannual festival of mind-losing just a few hours away, and with many clubs lining up the proverbial late trolley dash, it is worth each of them taking a moment to appreciate whatever might already be sat in the cupboard at home.

Tottenham and West Ham have made 15 additions between them so far this summer, with the possibility of more to come on deadline day, and, understandably, so much of the analysis of their respective potential this season has been framed through the prism of what those newcomers might bring.

But this was a night for old dogs and old tricks.

A devastating Tottenham counter-attack, the kind fired up so regularly by the frightening front-three whose brilliance last season has them preparing for Champions League football this, opened the scoring.

West Ham hit back and earned a deserved point thanks to Tomas Soucek, who levelled with the kind of goal that was his calling card in his first 18 months in east London, set up brilliantly by Michail Antonio, a necessary mainstay of the past two seasons, whose place in David Moyes’ XI is perhaps more directly threatened by summer arrivals than any other.

The hosts had produced their best half-hour of the season to start this derby, going within inches of opening the scoring when Antonio found Hugo Lloris’ far post with a fine curler, so it was just about in keeping with the pattern of Tottenham’s campaign thus far when, against the run of play, they struck first.

Michail Antonio was inches away from getting the goal his performance deserved

/ Action Images via Reuters

Trouble was in the offing from the moment Declan Rice broke into the box, nudged the first half of a phantom one-two inside and did not receive the return. Dejan Kulusevski charged away, Harry Kane somehow kept up, and only Thilo Kehrer’s toe into his own net denied Heung-min Son a drought-ending goal from the Englishman’s cross in the middle.

Antonio may not even have been in the starting lineup here had Italian centre-forward Gianluca Scamacca not been suffering from illness after making his first League start at Aston Villa on Sunday.

However, the Jamaican looked on it from the first minute and his superb touch, shimmy and flick was perfectly timed into the path of Soucek’s surge. The midfielder fired past Lloris, whose weakness in possession had cost the quick throw from which Spurs were caught napping, and Moyes’ men were deservedly on terms.

The introduction of West Ham’s club record signing Lucas Paqueta prompted almost as grand an ovation as for the Czech’s goal but he missed a golden chance to win it when a mix-up with fellow new boy Emerson saw neither connect with Vladimir Coufal’s pull-back.

It looked as if the old-guard had stepped up again instead, late in stoppage time, but when Jarrod Bowen hooked across the face of goal, somehow neither Antonio nor Soucek could apply the finishing touch as it trickled wide.

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