Spurs first home league game since Boxing Day, saw back to back league losses for Conte for the first time since his arrival, with another clueless display, that highlighted the bad transfer window.
After the victory over Brighton in the Cup at the weekend, there was optimism… by the end there was anger…
— Токсическая сеть (@Toxic_Web) February 9, 2022
It didn’t take long for that first photo to be become the second. With the optimism, there was the thought of a fast start, out of blocks and in their faces, don’t give ’em a second, in their half and creating chances.
And so it turned out… for Southampton.
From the first whistle they were on their game and Spurs were on the back foot. Pressed and harried, the visitors were all over Conte’s men, who could string two passes together to relieve any of the pressure. Under the pump, they were crumbling.
Luckily for Spurs, Southampton were doing a Spurs. All the ball, all the chances no goals. Hugo making saves. It really looked like Southampton were going to be Spursy, when Spurs finally got out of their own half, but Reguilon had his chance saved and it looked like it would be down to who rued the miss chances less.
It looked like it would be Hasenhuttl’s team when Spurs took the lead 18 minutes in. Moura went on a bit of a roundabout run, Hojbjerg made a great run through the channel, Moura found him and the Dane’s cross was played into his own net by the Southampton defender, under pressure from Son.
As Ben said on Twitter about Spurs and Conte…
Conte is the only man that can fix Spurs but Spurs are the only club that can break Conte.
— Ben Myers (@benmyers19) February 9, 2022
We all know which is the likely outcome but even with the hindrance of Levy during the window Conte isn’t exactly helping himself. The formation with just two in the middle doesn’t work. They’re constantly overrun. especially when one of them does nothing and the other has to cover for everything, going forward and in defence.
If Conte keeps picking two with one of them Winks, then he’s gonna have to get used to this kind of performance. While Hojbjerg was getting dogs abuse for missed passes that were bad misses, under no pressure, Winks was getting a free ride for doing nothing. Just standing there. While Hojbjerg was laying on the opening goal, Winks was stats padding and standing.
He’s the footballing equivalent of a Labour Party leader. Like Corbyn he’s present but not involved. Like Starmer he’s the first there to celebrate a goal, in which he played absolutely no part, but the first that has disappeared when Spurs concede, only to be seen after the fact waving his arms about in disgust.
The lead lasted only five minutes, as with all the goals they conceded, Spurs showed why Conte wanted a new right wingback and centreback. Seven Spurs players in the box, to two Southampton, when Davies slices the ball up in the air, then Sanchez heads it away, but into danger, while Royal watches it go by him and then by him again, when crossed in for a player to stick his foot out and equalise between Davies and Romero.
Winks was wandering around outside the box, he didn’t bother trying. He did a little later, actually running into the box before just giving up as the cross came in and was headed just wide by the payer he ran to follow.
Davies, Sanchez and Royal were being found out. None are any good under any sort of pressure. Conte said earlier in the wee that there’s a gap in Sanchez’s play. Yes, there is and like most of them, that gap is between the ears. They’ve all got the physical attributes but they’re all just clueless.
With nothing from the middle, Kane was back to acting as playmaker again. When he did then get on the end of things, he was back to hitting the woodwork with players who shouldn’t be there getting in his way.
Conte watched this all play out… well, not play out… and waited. He saw it not working but left it until the hour before making changes. It would be nice to have a manager who could see what was happening and do something earlier, not wait until that hour alarm goes off.
Bentancur made his league debut, after a cameo in the cup, unfortunately it was for Hojbjerg and not Winks. Immediately there was talk of him doing more than the departing Dane, by people forgetting that assist earlier. While the Uruguayan moved more in his first three minutes on the pitch than Winks had in the previous hour. Passing and moving, when he passed it backwards he moved to get the ball back or moved to attack, while Winks stood still after his sideways balls.
Spurs took the lead shortly after his arrival, via howls from Southampton as Royal clattered into their player – they were upset as they told him to stay down and play up for VAR, funny he seemed to be holding his arm when he was OK to return to action and not his head, though that’s what they were claiming the injury to be.
Again Kane the playmaker, through to Moura and this time from the cross Son did score.
But Southampton were riled. Conte may have been angry and gone back for more but the visitors showed the fight on the pitch and it was only another ten minutes before they were level another couple minutes after they were ahead, with two almost identical goals.
A quick first time cross from the right and a back post header with Sanchez and Royal all over the place. For the first Glenn Hoddle said in commentary for the equaliser… “No midfield player tracking Elyounoussi”… give you three guesses who that slacker was.
It looked like Bergwijn had done his added time trick again, Kane, playmaker again, putting in a cross for Romero to nod down and the Dutchman with an excellent inside of the wrong foot finish, but he was offside and it was quickly ruled out by VAR.
A draw would have flattered Spurs. The best team won. Southampton had more of the ball and did more with it. Three times as many shots on and off target. The only plus for Spurs was Bentancur, other than that it was the usual omniclusterfuckshambles, that was squarely on Conte’s shoulders… OK along with Paratici and Levy. There’s not much he can do about the latter pair but he he has to realise at some point that 3-4-3 doesn’t work. It’s amazing to think Spurs are being hindered by the injury to a player who was loaned out to Championship Norwich last season…