Football Features

Matt Doherty “reborn” as Conte’s comeback kings Spurs smash Newcastle 5-1 to go above Arsenal

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:30, 3 April 2022

Spurs came from 0-1 down to thrash Newcastle 5-1 at Tottenham Stadium.

The win moves Antonio Conte’s men up into fourth place ahead of Arsenal’s Monday night clash and keeps the pressure up on Mikel Arteta’s Gunners to maintain a flawless pace if they are to secure Champions League football for next season.

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What made the win against Newcastle so impressive for Spurs was the fact that they actually fell behind to Eddie Howe’s men. Despite dominating the opening half, as the break approached Newcastle won a free-kick and Fabian Schar stepped up, sliced open the Spurs wall to surprise Hugo Lloris and open the scoring.

Coming after an international break, one could have guessed that maybe this would be a classic bananaskin game for Spurs who are the epitome of inconsistency. But no, Antonio Conte’s men showed a remarkable resolve to dig deep and rout their visitors.

It helped that Ben Davies equalised almost immediately, letting them go into half-time level at 1-1. The Welsh defender nodded home a stunning Heung-min Son cross to get Spurs back in it instantly.

Then coming out from half-time Matt Doherty gave Spurs their first lead of the game, stooping to head home an utterly ridiculous cross from Harry Kane. The England skipper boomed the ball fully 40 yards laterally across the field taking out the entire Newcastle defence.

Son made it 3-1 soon after before Emerson completed the rout on the hour, converting Matt Doherty’s cross (after a fashion) to make it 4-1 and a comfortable last half-hour for Conte with their comeback fully complete. There was even time for Steven Bergwijn to add a fifth!

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That comeback is the most impressive thing, not just because all comebacks are inherently impressive but because it meant that Spurs have won a most 14 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season. That is very anti-Spursy!

Conte’s teams have become famous for their mental strength and ability to enact comebacks. Only Lazio with 36 points won more than Inter’s 35 points from losing positions in their two years under Antonio Conte.

When you consider the impact of this comeback against Newcastle, and then consider that their shock win over Manchester City actually involved twice “coming back” from City equalisers where Guardiola’s side appeared to have all the momentum only for Spurs to wrest it back and even win the game right at the death, then you have to consider that Antonio Conte is transforming Spurs into something more akin to what we have come to call “mentality monsters.”

And that is definitely scary!

Matt Doherty: a wing-back reborn

Matt Doherty to Spurs looked a move destined for success, but then it just sort of didn’t work. And Doherty looked absolutely finished. But Antonio Conte has never met a wing-back he couldn’t turn into a beast and so naturally after just a few months working with the Italian, Doherty looks not only back to his best but in fact better than he’s ever been.

After wearing no. 10 during the international break, today the ‘accidental centre-forward-full-back’ Doherty played a key role in Spurs’ comeback playing out of position at left wing-back. The Irishman worked his flank relentlessly and popped up with a brilliant back-post diving header to give Spurs the lead at the start of the second-half.

That goal completely turned the momentum of the game and Doherty even added an assist later on to made it six direct goal involvements in his last six Premier League games. He’s a man in form and given the trajectory of Conte wing-backs only goes up, we can expect much, much more from Matt Doherty over the next few months.