It was a hugely disappointing performance and result which saw Tottenham Hotspur start the 2023 on a low point, falling 0-2 to a more effective and better-drilled Aston Villa side.
The Tottenham starting eleven saw the important Kulusevski and Bentancur miss out. The Swede’s absence was particularly important because other attackers such as Richarlison and Lucas Moura also being out, it forced a rare start to an extremely ineffective Bryan Gil.
Signs were poor from the kick off as it took man Harry Kane almost 20 minutes to get his finish touch in the contest.
Spurs settled and had a slight initiative, but a nice individual run from wing-back Doherty was about as close as the frustrated host came to scoring.
Aston Villa didn’t threat too much in the opening half but although Conte’s team did not for trail at the break for once, there was already a sense of what was to come in the 2nd period.
Another Hugo Lloris mistake led to the crucial opening goal for Aston Villa around the hour mark. And defending was sluggish as Douglas Luiz late buried the host with a shot from close range soon after.
Tottenham this time were unable to spark any kind of come back and Aston Villa managed their lead very well.
The most noise the Spurs fans made in the afternoon was the loud boos and jeering which rang out on the full-time whistle.
Analysis and moving ahead
Tottenham never got going and unlike previous games where the side showed the character and quality to come back into games when behind, this was completely different. The team faded badly, lacked confidence, and lacked leaders to improve the dynamic.
We probably shouldn’t get too down on the performance at this stage because of key absences, but it has become apparent this EPL has improved on last season, and right now we are not good enough to finish in the top four places.
With Son looking only marginally more effective than a laughing bad Gil right now, we desperately need Kulu, Moura and Richarlison back fit and available.
Kulusevski is a crucial part of the team but add to that Bissouma and not Bentancur sitting in the middle, we just didn’t have the quality needed against what to be fair was a disciplined and committed opponent.
Much of the talk post game is about Conte and his future. His body language looked deeply concerning but he is just too emotional to hide his feelings, and the sense from early on was that this game was not going our way.
Pochettino’s name was trending on social media during and after this match. Conte was dealt bad luck with absences, but his starting selection was badly chosen in my view. He should have started Sessegnon and not Gil, using Perisic in the front three. Alternatively, I would even have gone in a 5-3-2 with Skipp in XI and Gil as a sub, offering at least some attacking options.
I’d stick with Conte for now, but the likelihood is that we wont finish in the top four and he will leave in the summer at the latest.