Conte’s Spurs Suffer Defeat, Champions League Race Goes to the Wire

Antonio Conte’s Spurs suffered yet another defeat on Saturday as the Champions League race goes to the wire in the Premier League. Arsenal also lost for a third time in quick succession, as neither of the two North London clubs can take a firm hold of fourth spot. Manchester United did pick up a win, however, albeit in an unconvincing manner against bottom-of-the-league Norwich.

Conte’s Methods In Full Swing

Prior to their 2-1 defeat at home to Brighton at Saturday lunch time, Tottenham had been on their best run of form in the Premier League since 2017. Conte had recorded six wins in his last seven matches in the league during a crucial period of the season, with Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Dejan Kulusevski all firing for his side and his extreme methods finally looking to have paid off.

Football is a fickle game and it wasn’t long ago when things looked bleak at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Conte’s side looked abject, particularly in their 1-0 defeat away to Burnley back in February. Spurs’ run of form led them to having won just twice in six league matches, also suffering four defeats in that time. Their form led to Conte himself stating that it was impossible for his side to finish in the Champions League.

Fast forward to March and now into April, Spurs have turned things around. They have had an influx of goals, scoring five against both Everton and Newcastle, as well as four away to Aston Villa. They had also picked up impressive victories at home to West Ham and away to Brighton, maintaining the pressure on their North London rivals Arsenal who had been on a fine run of form themselves.

Spurs ranked bottom in terms of distance covered prior to Conte taking charge at Spurs but he has now made his squad a lot fitter and it seems that his side have now adapted to his ever-present 3-4-3 system. Before this weekend, Tottenham had scored more goals than any other team in the Premier League since the turn of the year. They have become less reliant on Kane, particularly with the fantastic form of Son – six goals in his last four Premier League games – as well as Kulusevski hitting the ground running since his move from Juventus in January.

Conte has been known to get the best out of players in his squad. You just have to look at the development of Alessandro Bastoni and Romelu Lukaku at Inter. One man who started to perform under the Italian boss was Matt Doherty. The former Wolves man had found life difficult in North London since his move from Molineux in 2020 for around £15 million but the Irishman had really started to come into his own in his preferred role at wing-back under Conte before he suffered a season-ending injury at Villa Park last weekend. His absence was missed on Saturday in the defeat against Brighton.

Does Anybody Want Champions League Football?

Well, it certainly seems that nobody wants that final Champions League qualification spot. Tottenham could have taken a huge step forward in finishing fourth if they had defeated Brighton on Saturday, as Arsenal suffered a third defeat in a row after their 1-0 loss away to Southampton. However, the Gunners still remain just three points behind Spurs and they still have a game in hand.

Arsenal have taken some big blows of late, particularly due to the injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, and Mikel Arteta’s young squad seems to have run out of gas as the season nears its conclusion.

Manchester United are still battling and are just three points behind Conte’s side with both sides playing 32 games a piece. Nonetheless, their current form is definitely not something to shout about, with the Red Devils recording just two Premier League wins in their last six games. Their 3-2 victory over Norwich on Saturday was far from convincing.

What’s Next for Spurs?

Exits from the FA Cup and UEFA Conference League have allowed Conte to focus solely on the league and their recent upturn in form is largely attributed to this. With fewer matches for Spurs, it has allowed his side to have plenty of time on the training ground, learning Conte’s system and philosophy, and having full concentration on qualifying for the top four.

Arsenal will have some serious concerns at the moment as their schedule certainly doesn’t look like it’s getting easier. Up next for the Gunners is a trip to Stamford Bridge before hosting Manchester United and facing West Ham at the London Stadium in a tricky run of fixtures.

Manchester United perhaps have the easiest run of fixtures to end the season but they still have to play fierce rivals Liverpool. They suffered a 5-0 defeat at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

With six games remaining in the Premier League, the top four race is still all to play for. Spurs host Arsenal on May 12th in a gigantic clash for the final Champions League spot. However, they still have to face Liverpool at Anfield in their final run. Expect plenty of twists and turns to occur as the season comes to dramatic end. Let’s not forget that Manchester City and Liverpool are still battling it out for the Premier League title.

Tottenham have a short trip away to Brentford next Saturday as every point is valuable as we head towards the end of the season. Plenty of drama is yet to unfold.