Antonio Conte problem threatens to ruin Tottenham’s Champions League dream for second time

It’s now Arsenal’s advantage in the race for the top four after Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Brentford on Saturday night. After watching the Gunners follow up their midweek victory at Chelsea with a 3-1 triumph over Manchester United early in the kick-off, Spurs drove through the capital knowing they had to leave the Brentford Community Stadium with the three points in the bag.

That never happened, however, and it was the hosts who came closest to victory. Extremely poor a week earlier as Brighton & Hove Albion picked up a late N17 win, Spurs simply never came up against the Bees and failed to register a shot on target for Game 2 on the trot.

Scoring for fun ahead of the last two games as they hit Newcastle United for five and Aston Villa for four, the goals have dried up and their current attacking struggles reflect their early campaign woes when Nuno Espirito Santo was at the helm . Harry Kane cut a frustrated figure up front, with his biggest contribution of the game at the other end of the pitch as he cleared Pontus Jansson’s header from the line.

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Tottenham have no problem playing against teams that attack them and leave gaps open in the process, with wins over Man City and Leeds being prime examples. However, the problem for Spurs is when they come up against defensive teams who sit behind the ball to try and frustrate them.

“Yes, I think in the last two games we struggled offensively because we found two teams who are very good defensively,” Antonio Conte explained in his post-match press conference. “Without the ball, these two teams defended very deep, with the whole team, with all their players. When you find this type of situation, you have to create space, also have players to beat their man in one on one, create superiority.

“I think that aspect we’re working on because this week after the game against Brighton we worked on that aspect to try in training to find 10 players behind the ball. In the end I think it’s a consequence when you score a lot of goals, you start to become a dangerous team and the opponent pays more attention.

“They try to have more balance when they play you. I think today we wanted to get three points but the draw was fair and we have to accept that result and try to keep working and we improve in situations we can improve.”

So how exactly do Tottenham solve the problem with five games remaining in the season and a Champions League place on the line? Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Spurs defender Eric Dier gave an honest assessment of the team’s performance and what he and his team-mates need to do.

Although Dier plays at centre-back and his main priority is to prevent the Lilywhites from conceding goals, he also plays an important role in the team’s attacking play due to his passing range and skill. ability to pass the ball to teammates. He knows this is something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible or Spurs will be pushed to the bottom of the Champions League by their rivals.

“At this stage of the season one point is never enough. We came here to win and we failed to do so,” Dier said when speaking to Sky Sports after the game. “Last week we should have finished 0-0 and we didn’t, so at least this week we didn’t get complacent at the end.

“They’ve made it difficult all along, but we’ve made it difficult for ourselves. We haven’t created enough chances. So it’s a bit of both. We haven’t had any shots on target yet, but it’s on me, on everyone else, if you don’t give the ball to the attackers in the right positions.

“It’s not what we expected, the way we attacked. We weren’t as smooth. Sloppy in possession, although we improved as the game progressed. We didn’t time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to win all our games.”

The games certainly don’t get any easier with a home game against Leicester City before the team surrenders to title challengers Liverpool. Managing to get back on track after their last fights towards the end of Espirito Santo’s tenure looked set to cost them a Champions League challenge, Tottenham cannot let the same thing happen again at such a crucial stage of the campaign. .