Tottenham Hotspur’s charge towards their first English top-flight title since 1961 hit a speed bump on Wednesday with a 1-0 Premier League defeat at West Ham United.
Spurs, who would have gone top with a win, fell behind to Michail Antonio’s header after seven minutes and rarely looked like getting back on level terms, struggling to break down their London rivals’ stubborn defence.
“We never found the solution to play the way we normally play,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told a news conference. “In the first half we were poor and in the second half we tried to play the way we normally do but it was difficult.”
Spurs, who failed to muster a shot on target in the first period for only the second time in 13 years, woke up after the break and Harry Kane failed to connect on two chances, the first of which he fluffed from point-blank range.
It was Tottenham’s first away defeat since the opening weekend of the season and their first league setback since mid-January when they lost at home to leaders Leicester City.
The Foxes remain top of the table on 57 points, three ahead of Spurs and six ahead of Arsenal, whose own title bid suffered another body blow with a home loss to Swansea.
Spurs play Arsenal in the north London derby on Saturday.
“The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and we can see that every week,” said Pochettino.
The win delighted the home fans in the last derby with Spurs at Upton Park before they move to the Olympic Stadium next term and manager Slaven Bilic said his side should have won by more.
“We shall approach the rest of the season very confidently,” he added. “We were facing a team that on paper is one of the best teams in England.”