After a meek north London derby defeat, maybe it’s time to begin asking if Conte is admittedly doing sufficient to earn a bumper new contract.
Arsenal moved eight factors clear on the high of the desk with a win and efficiency which confirmed what has lengthy been apparent: within the eight months since Mikel Arteta’s aspect had been overwhelmed 3-0 by Spurs right here in Could, they’ve moved to a distinct degree to their rivals.
Arsenal at the moment are enjoying like champions elect whereas Spurs have regressed since their spectacular second-half to final season and, for all his insistence that their top-four end was “a miracle” and that the membership are years from competing for trophies, Conte should settle for a substantial share of the blame.
Trailing 2-0 to a disastrous Hugo Lloris personal purpose and Martin Odegaard’s very good strike, Spurs produced their customary second-half rally and Arsenal had Aaron Ramsdale to thank for a string of high-quality saves, which preserved their clear sheet and ensured a primary away winner on this fixture since 2014 – when Arteta performed within the Gunners’ win at White Hart Lane.
By the point Spurs lastly woke from one other first-half slumber, the injury was already carried out, nonetheless, and had Eddie Nketiah proven extra killer intuition, the scoreline and temper might need been even worse for Spurs.
For many of the first half, it was straightforward to marvel if Arsenal had extra gamers on the pitch, such was their superior organisation, work price and technical high quality.
Conte’s tactical inflexibility was each baffling and dear, as his two-man midfield of 20-year-old Pape Matar Sarr, making his full Premier League debut, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had been outnumbered by Arsenal’s magnificent three of Odegaard, Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka. The trio had been incessantly supported by left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko or Nketiah, leaving Spurs fully overrun in the course of the park.
The second purpose completely highlighted the issue, as a hopeful Lloris punt was shortly recycled by Partey earlier than Bukayo Saka discovered Odegaard in oceans of house. The Norwegian had already examined Lloris with a sighter however this time discovered the underside nook with an arrowed strike.
Arsenal’s midfield dominance was additionally the story of their 3-1 win over Spurs on the Emirates in October however Conte, seemingly, had not heeded the teachings from that defeat. The Italian’s refusal to deviate from his 3-4-3 system more and more feels expensive, significantly when Spurs do probably not have the squad to make it work, and his counter-attacking system felt horribly outdated towards Arsenal’s possession recreation.
Conte’s set-up made for a gruelling debut for Sarr – who in held his personal, in equity – and left Harry Kane, nonetheless one purpose shy of Jimmy Greaves’ all-time purpose document, having to drop into the midfield to revive parity.
Conte’s different wide selection name was additionally unusual, with Ryan Sessegnon beginning at left wing-back forward of the skilled Ivan Perisic, presumably to assist counter the menace from Saka.
Sessegnon backed off Saka for the opening purpose, a disastrous personal purpose by Lloris who turned the winger’s cross into his personal internet after it took a slight defection off Sessegnon. The previous Fulham man additionally squandered a number of promising positions, together with a one-on-one with Ramsdale.
In equity to Conte, it was the second residence League recreation in a row during which Lloris has gifted the opposition the lead with a clanger after his mistake for Aston Villa’s opener right here on New Yr’s Day.
The Spurs captain had already been pressured to make a wise cease to disclaim Nketiah after inviting stress from Gabriel Martinelli with a sloppy piece of play, and his jitters set the tone for one more depressing first-half show from which Spurs by no means recovered.
Lloris has been a high-quality servant to the membership, and did make sensible saves to disclaim Odegaard and Nketiah once more after half-time, however he additionally made a mistake within the defeat on the Emirates and is more and more turning into a legal responsibility. Spurs are planning to focus on a long-term successor for the 36-year-old in the summertime however there’s a case for focusing on a brand new goalkeeper this month.
In frequent with nearly each recreation this winter, Spurs improved within the second half, with Dejan Kulusevski, Kane, Sessegnon and Richarlison all forcing saves from Ramsdale, who had stood as much as efforts from Heung-min Son and the England captain earlier than the interval.
Their enchancment, once more, solely made one other abject opening 45 minutes all of the extra infuriating and suggests it’s now imbedded psychological flaw that Conte should handle.
At full-time, Spurs had been booed off, however with one thing extra like apathy than real anger because the residence crowd seemingly accepted a loss which, primarily based on performances this season, shouldn’t have come as any shock.