Issa Diop reacted well to being dropped for the first time in his West Ham profession by placing in a man of the match display for the Hammers the final time they travelled to north London to face Spurs.
The French centre-back had played every single minute of each and every game since making his debut for the club in the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal back on August 25, 2018, forming an excellent partnership with fellow new recruit Fabian Balbuena in the heart of the Hammers defence.
Clean sheets were hard to come by for West Ham heading to the game however Diop’s performance was hailed a monster by former Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho back in September.
Before he was eventually dropped for the defeat to Chelsea on April 8, mistakes had started to creep into the 22-year-old’s match as the long run of games and moments caught up with him. It was no surprise to see him finally make way once Balbuena had got back up to speed after four months out with a knee injury.
At Spurs, Diop and Balbuena were paired together for the first time since the 2-0 defeat to Watford in London Stadium on December 22 2019 when the Paraguayan was forced off with a knee injury that kept him out for nearly four months.
At Spurs’ new ground, it was like they had never been apart.
Diop specifically though was outstanding against Spurs, obviously hellbent on making up for lost time while he sat on the bench and served as a very, very big reminder to former boss Pellegrini why he and Balbuena were the number one venture at centre-back and also, revealed the supervisor splashed out £25m on him .
So what were the numbers behind Diop’s extremely impressive outing in N17 on his return to the team?
Tackles completed: 2/2
Pass success: 83%
He earned rave reviews from Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer as well, who said of Diop’s display: “I could pick out a few performances but a towering display from Issa Diop, everything he did was almost flawless. His tackling, reading of the game, pace, getting in front of forwards all afternoon.
“His awareness of what is going on in and around him, he won a lot of tackles. He was immense. There was no way through for Tottenham.
“He took off the ball players with substantial ease. He reads the game beautifully well. Here is the best part [when he almost scored] look at the way he’s facing Son, there’s the pace, knocks it past [Davinson] Sanchez, [Toby] Alderweireld and it’s a shame it didn’t hit on the back of the net because his performance deserved it.
“He was absolutely magnificent.”
Yes, he was totally magnificent indeed.