Antonio Conte’s Spurs suffered another defeat on Saturday as the Champions League race draws to a close in the Premier League. Arsenal also lost for the third time in a row as neither north London club can hold on to fourth place. However, Manchester United clinched a win, albeit in an unconvincing win over bottom Norwich.
Ahead of Spurs’ 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton on Saturday midday, Tottenham were on their best form in the Premier League since 2017. Conte had recorded six wins in his last seven games in the league at a crucial stage of the season, with Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski, who all fired for his side and his extreme methods seem to have finally paid off.
Football is a volatile game and it wasn’t long ago that things looked grim at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Conte’s side looked pathetic, particularly in the 1-0 defeat by Burnley in February, where Spurs had won just twice in six league games and also suffered four losses in that span. Her shape led to Conte himself that it was impossible for his team to end up in the Champions League.
Fast forward to March and now April, Spurs have turned things around, particularly with an influx of goals, scoring five against Everton and Newcastle and four away against Aston Villa. They had also recorded impressive victories at home against West Ham and away against Brighton and kept the pressure on their north London rivals Arsenal, who were in good form themselves.
Tottenham are more than happy with Kulusevski as part of a long-term project ⚪️ #THFC
▪️ Mandatory purchase clause in the event that Tottenham qualifies as a UCL starter in the next season/15 appearances;
▪️ €10m loan fee until 2023. Purchase clause worth €40m next summer, €35m this summer pic.twitter.com/YeMLZHZ08J
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 17, 2022
Spurs were ranked last in terms of distance covered before Conte took charge at Spurs, but he’s made his squad much fitter now and it seems his side are now adjusting to his ubiquitous 3-4-3 system Has. Before this weekend, Tottenham had scored more goals than any other team in the Premier League since the turn of the year. They are less dependent on Kane, particularly with Son’s fantastic form – six goals in his last four Premier League games – as well as Kulusevski, who has been on the right track since joining from Juventus in January.
Conte is known for bringing out the best in the players in his squad. Just look at the development of Alessandro Bastoni and Romelu Lukaku at Inter. One man who started performing under the Italian boss was Matt Doherty. The former Wolves man had found life difficult in north London since moving from Molineux in 2020 for around £15million, but the Irishman had started to really assert himself in his preferred full-back role under Conte before taking one Season suffered – end of injury at Villa Park last weekend. His absence was missed in Saturday’s defeat by Brighton.
Well, it certainly seems nobody wants that last Champions League qualifier. Tottenham could have taken a big step up in fourth place if they had beaten Brighton on Saturday as Arsenal suffered a third straight defeat 1-0 away loss to Southampton. However, the Gunners still remain just three points behind Spurs and have one game left in their hands.
Arsenal have taken some serious hits lately, particularly with the injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, and Mikel Arteta’s young squad appears to have run out of fuel towards the end of the season.
Manchester United are still struggling and are just three points behind Conte’s side with both sides playing 32 games apiece. Nonetheless, their current form is definitely nothing special as the Red Devils have only managed two Premier League wins in their last six games. The 3-2 win against Norwich on Saturday was anything but convincing.
Departures from the FA Cup and UEFA Conference League have allowed Conte to focus solely on the league, reflecting her recent upturn in form. With fewer games for Spurs, it has allowed his side to have plenty of time at the training ground, learning Conte’s system and philosophy and fully focusing on qualifying for the top 4.
Arsenal will have some serious concerns at the moment as their schedule certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier. Next up for the Gunners is a trip to Stamford Bridge before hosting Manchester United and taking on West Ham in a tricky series of games at the London Stadium.
Manchester United may have the easiest series of games to end the season but they still have to face fierce rivals Liverpool. They suffered a 5-0 defeat in the second leg at Old Trafford earlier this season.
With six games remaining in the Premier League, the race for the top four is still open. Spurs host Arsenal on May 12 in a titanic duel for last place in the Champions League. However, they are yet to meet Liverpool at Anfield in their final run. Expect plenty of twists and turns as the season comes to its dramatic conclusion. Let’s not forget that Manchester City and Liverpool are still fighting for the Premier League title.
Tottenham have a short trip to Brentford next Saturday as every point is valuable as we near the end of the season. Much drama has yet to unfold.