Tottenham Hotspur fell to their first defeat of the 2022/23 season this afternoon, and to make matters worse it came against their bitter rivals, Arsenal.
Let’s take a look at five things we learned:
Same old problems – It was the same old problems for Spurs this afternoon. They had their shape and they threatened at times, but they simply did not play very well. The worrying trend is that I don’t think Spurs have played well for 90 minutes once this season. When you compare it to their top form towards the end of the last campaign, it seems a mile apart. Getting results while playing poorly is one thing, but it was always going to catch up to Spurs.
3-5-2 – People are going to be calling for a change to a 3-5-2 more than ever now. With Bissouma or Skipp ready to come in and add more solidity, allowing Son or Richarlison to join Kane up front, it could be an option for Conte. However, transitioning formations from the start will also have teething problems, so it depends on whether Conte wants to risk that. I suspect we will see Spurs swap between the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 depending on the opponent in the next few weeks.
Emerson Royal banned – Tottenham may appeal the decision, although I doubt they would be successful. It looks as though Matt Doherty could get a few games under his belt in the coming weeks as Emerson is banned following his straight red card. That could also mean some rotational minutes for Djed Spence, although Conte may opt to use Perisic at RWB instead.
Strength in depth – Tottenham have improved the depth of their squad so much over the summer, but you can see why Conte still ranks them below the likes of Man City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. Injuries to Kulusevski and Lucas, and suddenly Bryan Gil was the only attacking reinforcement named among the substitutes. As such, the only change Conte could really make from the bench was a formation change.
Five substitutions – Conte appeared to shut up shop and protect the scoreline after Spurs went three down. He clearly wanted to rest some key players amidst what had become a pointless fixture, while also switching to a midfield three and giving some bench players some key minutes. Oliver Skipp, Yves Bissouma, and Matt Doherty in particular would have welcomed the 30-minute run-out. Probably a wise decision from Conte, all things considered.
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