Football News

Tottenham displaying signs of a concerning trend seen during final stages of Antonio Conte’s reign

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:00, 8 May 2024

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou was left with very few positives to take from their recent 4-2 defeat at the hands of Liverpool.

The loss marked the fourth consecutive Premier League game in which they left empty-handed, with three defeats taking place away from home.

Postecoglou will be disappointed to see their dreams of reaching next season’s Champions League effectively end. With only three matches left to play, Tottenham can only achieve a maximum of 69 points. Aston Villa, who occupy the coveted fourth spot, must win just one of two remaining fixtures to secure a historic achievement.

This is a significant blow for Spurs, who started the season (Postecoglou’s first campaign after taking over last summer) with a point to prove after losing their talisman and top scorer, Harry Kane.

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As touched upon, Spurs have lost each of their last four games in the Premier League, their longest losing run since November 2004 (a run of six). Indeed, the only manager to suffer more consecutive defeats in charge of Spurs in the Premier League than Ange Postecoglou is Ossie Ardiles (seven games between January and February 1994).

The former Celtic manager, though, was not wallowing in self-pity following the recent crushing loss to Jurgen Klopp’s men.

“Our last two away games at Newcastle and Chelsea weren’t great, not only the performance but the results as well. At least today I actually thought we played more like ourselves and we at least endeavoured to be the kind of team we want to be,” he told BBC’s Match of the Day.

“I thought first half, we actually played well, it’s just whenever we got to the final third just nothing came of it and I think it allowed Liverpool to get comfortable and the flip side of that, when they got into our box, they were looking dangerous with the player they have. Obviously them getting the two goals made it difficult for us and in the second half, they obviously scored a couple of exceptional goals.

“I still thought our football was good in general and at least in the last half hour, our front third started to click a little bit more and looked a little bit more dangerous. A couple of goals, created a couple more [chances]. It is disappointing obviously when you lose but at least today, I can hold on to the fact that we looked more like ourselves.”

This incarnation of Spurs looks much like how they were in the final days of Antonio Conte’s troubled reign.

As mentioned, the Lillywhites began their 2023/24 season credibly well, and many predicted a potential title push. However, the wheels soon came off; since keeping consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League in October (against Luton and Fulham), Spurs have only kept two clean sheets in their last 26 games. They’ve also conceded the opening goal in their previous four league games, their longest run since January 2023 (seven under Antonio Conte).

Extrapolated across the Premier League season, Tottenham has conceded the first goal in 15 of their 35 matches. They have lost seven of those contests, albeit winning six, which for a time illustrated its powers of recovery under Postecoglou.

Up next for Spurs is a daunting encounter with the reigning champion, Manchester City. The Cityzens are on track for a four-peat, adding to the pressure on Tottenham; this clash presents a unique dilemma as City’s ongoing battle for Premier League supremacy is with Tottenham’s local rivals, Arsenal.