Tottenham’s damning stats show Antonio Conte is being let down as their form plummets


With Antonio Conte now insisting his side have just a one per cent chance of finishing in the top four, it’s perhaps remarkable to think it was less than a month ago that Tottenham were riding high after Steven Bergwijn’s stunning late double sealed a pivotal victory over Leicester. 

A scintillating 3-2 win at the King Power Stadium saw Tottenham leapfrog rivals Arsenal into fifth place, while they moved just a point behind West Ham in fourth with three games in hand and eight behind Chelsea in third with four games in hand. 

Still unbeaten in the Premier League under their new beacon of hope, Conte, and with new additions to come in the closing stages of the January transfer window, Tottenham were once again a force to be reckoned with. 

It was less than a month ago that Steven Bergwijn scored his double against Leicester

Since then, Antonio Conte's Tottenham have lost three Premier League games on the bounce

Since then, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham have lost three Premier League games on the bounce 

Well, so we may have thought. Tottenham are now on a three-game losing streak in the league, plummeting to eighth place in the process – and next up is a rather ominous trip to the Etihad on Saturday night. 

Tottenham haven’t lost four Premier League games on the bounce since November 2004, and though a top-four place is technically still within reach, another defeat would be a damaging blow in their pursuit of a Champions League spot. 

Under normal circumstances, fingers would start being pointed at the manager, just like they were with Nuno Espirito Santo, who was sacked after just four months in charge. But with serial winner Conte at the helm, perhaps this time it’s not the manager to blame. 

So, what has actually happened since Bergwijn’s incredible cameo just a matter of weeks ago? 

Aside from brushing aside Brighton in the FA Cup, Tottenham have slumped to a one-sided 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and fallen to two highly disappointing home losses to Southampton and Wolves, 3-2 and 2-0 respectively.  

Two key themes were prevalent throughout the defeats: Tottenham’s lackluster attack and, more strikingly, their catastrophic defence. Scoring just two goals and conceding seven in three games, they haven’t quite resembled a trademark Conte outfit. 

But more so, it’s become pretty apparent that Tottenham did not address their evident shortcomings in the January transfer window. 

They rather bundled in Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur – both brought in from Juventus, Fabio Paratici’s former stomping ground – at the last minute, while Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil departed, the latter three on loan.   

Antonio Conte has talked down Tottenham's chances of a top-four finish in an interview

Antonio Conte has talked down Tottenham’s chances of a top-four finish in an interview

Conte said Tottenham have just a 'one per cent' chance of finishing in the top-four this season

Conte said Tottenham have just a ‘one per cent’ chance of finishing in the top-four this season

And bizarrely, Conte already appears to believe the signings aren’t what Tottenham required to transform his side into the title challengers he wants them to be. 

‘Rather than reinforce the squad, we on paper weakened it,’ he said. ‘Bentancur and Kulusevski are ideal prospects for Tottenham, because Tottenham are seeking young players they can develop and grow, not players who are ready. That is the issue. I have realised now that this is the vision of the club.’

Crucially, Tottenham didn’t address the obvious need for a centre back or a right wing-back, though of course attempting to sign Adama Traore, who instead went to Barcelona.  

Conte has always been vocal about the transfer policy at any club he’s been at, but at Tottenham the task ahead is clearly monumental.  

But while, on paper, he feels his squad may now be weaker, it’s important to highlight that none of Alli, Ndombele, Lo Celso or Gil were exactly at the forefront of the Italian’s plans.  

Instead, with their form plummeting, it’s worth looking at the players Conte can call on, and analyse exactly where this slump in form has come from. 

Antonio Conte’s Tottenham: First nine games vs last three games 
   First nine (per game) Last three (per game)
Goals scored 17 (1.9)  2 (0.7)
Goals conceded  6 (0.7)  7 (2.3) 
Expected goals  20.6 (2.3)  2.7 (0.9)
Expected goals against  8.1 (0.9)  5.2 (1.7) 
Total shots  145 (16.1)  31 (10.3) 
Shots on target  58 (6.4)  13 (4.3) 
Touches in the opposition box  272 (30.2)  58 (19.3) 
Possession won in the final 1/3  33 (3.7)  17 (5.7) 
Passes played into the opposition box  303 (33.7)  80 (26.7) 
Total shots faced  97 (10.8)  49 (16.3) 
Shots on target faced  28 (3.1)  24 (8) 
Errors leading to shots  4 (0.4)  5 (1.7) 

The stats make for difficult reading. In Conte’s first nine games, where Tottenham won six, drew three and picked up an impressive 21 points, the London outfit were creating chances, finishing them and staying tight at the back, keeping five clean sheets.   

Conte had breathed fresh life into his Tottenham side, albeit drawing 0-0 against Everton in a rather uneventful first league outing – where they failed to hit the target for a second game running, making it 227 minutes (almost four hours) since they last did so, and more than five hours since they last scored.  

Tottenham’s lack of attacking impetus wouldn’t last for long. They went on to score 17 goals in the opening nine games of his reign, averaging 6.4 shots on target and recording 30.2 touches in the opposition box per game. 

Errors leading to shots in the Premier League 

  • Arsenal – 15
  • Manchester United – 13
  • Wolves – 12
  • Leeds – 11
  • Tottenham – 10 

A certain Harry Kane was even starting to get amongst the goals. Having scored just one in nine under Nuno, the England captain notched four in as many games under Conte. His strike against Leicester was his fourth in five league games. 

Tottenham’s defence was also strong. They conceded just six goals in nine games, facing an average of 3.1 shots on target, making four errors leading to shots throughout. 

In both areas of the pitch, Tottenham have since capitulated. Kane has now gone three games without scoring, they are averaging fewer shots on target (4.3) and touches in the opposition box (19.3). They are also conceding considerably more shots on target (8).   

But in perhaps the most alarming stat of all, Tottenham have made five individual errors leading to shots in the last three games. They’ve made 10 all season. 

Against Chelsea, while there was nothing Lloris could do about Hakim Ziyech’s wonder strike, the marking as Thiago Silva headed home from a free-kick was abysmal. 

Against Southampton the defending was again comical. Ben Davies and Davinson Sanchez inexplicably failed to clear their lines for the Saints’ equaliser, before Tottenham were undone by two near-identical crosses in as many minutes as the away side picked up a deserved win. 

In both cases, Sanchez and Emerson Royal showed a total lack of defensive awareness as they afforded Southampton the easiest of free headers. 

Most recently against Wolves, Lloris – who has largely been a figure of consistency in recent weeks and months – was entirely at fault for the away side’s first goal. The Frenchman’s poor distribution also contributed to the second, with Davies’ woeful clearance then putting his side in all sorts of trouble. 

The marking for both of Southampton's late goals in their win over Tottenham was non-existent

The marking for both of Southampton’s late goals in their win over Tottenham was non-existent

Hugo Lloris was poor for both of Tottenham's goals conceded in their 2-0 defeat to Wolves

Hugo Lloris was poor for both of Tottenham’s goals conceded in their 2-0 defeat to Wolves

Conte, a manager hell-bent on controlling his side’s play to the nth degree, has been a visibly frustrated figure on the touchline in recent weeks. 

But though individual errors have certainly cost Tottenham, as the stats above show, their general play has also been considerably worse in the last few games.  

A key reason behind the downturn in form is the injuries to Oliver Skipp and Eric Dier, two players clearly instrumental to the way Tottenham function. 

Dier did play against Chelsea, while Skipp came on in the second half, when Spurs were already 2-0 down, but neither featured in the following two outings. 

Again, the stats are telling. With Skipp in the team, Tottenham’s win percentage is 55.6, while they have averaged 1.8 points and conceded 1.2 goals per game. Without him, Tottenham’s win percentage is 25, while they have averaged one point and conceded 1.8 goals per game.

With Dier in the team, Tottenham’s win percentage is 52.6, while they have averaged 1.7 points and conceded 1.2 goals per game. Without him, their win percentage is 33.3, while they have averaged just one point and conceded 2.3 goals per game. 

Interestingly, when Skipp, Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have started together this season, which has happened on five occasions in the league, Tottenham are yet to concede.  

In a boost for Conte, Dier is expected to be back for Manchester City, but there is more concern over the length of Skipp’s injury. 

Tottenham have won just one game from four when midfielder Oliver Skipp hasn't featured

Tottenham have won just one game from four when midfielder Oliver Skipp hasn’t featured

Equally, Tottenham have been drastically more successful with defender Eric Dier in the team

Equally, Tottenham have been drastically more successful with defender Eric Dier in the team

Tottenham have won nine of the 13 games when Skipp and Dier have both started

Tottenham have won nine of the 13 games when Skipp and Dier have both started

Conte has revealed he hopes to have both Eric Dier (left) and Oliver Skipp (right) back soon

Conte has revealed he hopes to have both Eric Dier (left) and Oliver Skipp (right) back soon

Tottenham’s defensive fragility has been on show in recent weeks, but their attack has been equally as futile, with Kane failing to net in his last three league games, while Son – although scoring against Southampton – has generally been pretty quiet since his return from injury.  

Though Son’s performances have been lackluster at times this season, he’s sat fourth in the Premier League top scorer charts with nine goals, so it’s perhaps unfair to attribute too much of the blame to the South Korean star. 

Kane, on the other hand, has underperformed this season. Yes, there have been off-field difficulties, and yes, he’s not had the best service. But against Wolves, he had chances. In fact he had six. He just didn’t take any of them. 

He headed a Lucas Moura cross comfortably into the hands of Jose Sa in the first half, sent his left-footed strike right at the keeper in the second after being played through by Son and typically failed to score from a free-kick.  

This has been a theme throughout the season: Kane has had chances; he’s just not been his quintessentially clinical self. 

Tottenham's Harry Kane has cut a frustrated figure at times in a low-performing season to date

Tottenham’s Harry Kane has cut a frustrated figure at times in a low-performing season to date

The England captain has dropped well below the standard he reached last season, where he scored 23 goals and recorded 14 assists throughout an incredible campaign

The England captain has dropped well below the standard he reached last season, where he scored 23 goals and recorded 14 assists throughout an incredible campaign

While Kane scored 23 goals and recorded 14 assists last season, the attacker has notched just five goals and two assist in a much more frustrating campaign. 

His goal involvements have fallen from 1.1 to 0.4 a game, while he’s also creating fewer chances (1.1 per game) than he was last season (1.4 per game). 

Of course, the numbers include his performances under Nuno, which were lackluster at best. But even despite the poor run under his former coach, Kane is still averaging more shots on target and more touches in the opposition box than last season.

His xG is also not too dissimilar, being 0.5 this season as opposed to 0.6 last season. But where he outperformed his xG last season, he’s now performing below it. 

For a striker of his undoubted quality, one who was desperate to move on last summer in pursuit of a club more able to match his ambition, Kane has to take some responsibility. 

Conte has continually defended his vice-captain, insisting Kane’s qualities extend beyond goals. And while that’s true, five goals and two assists in 21 games just isn’t good enough. 

Finally, we come to the wing-backs, a fundamental component of any Antonito Conte team.  

Ryan Sessegnon was dragged off after just 26 minutes with Spurs 2-0 down against Wolves

Ryan Sessegnon was dragged off after just 26 minutes with Spurs 2-0 down against Wolves

Emerson Royal has been highly disappointing since his big-money move to Spurs

Former Wolves wing-back Matt Doherty has struggled since moving to Spurs

Neither Emerson Royal (left) or Matt Doherty (right) have proved value for money on the right

It was a position Tottenham tried to address during the January transfer window but they missed out on key target Traore. 

Emerson Royal was slammed for his poor performance in the defeat to Southampton and found himself on the bench against Wolves, where Matt Doherty put in an equally uninspiring performance. 

On the other flank, while Sergio Reguilon is undoubtedly the most consistent full-back at the club, the flying Spaniard can’t exclusively carry the attacking burden. 

Second choice left wing-back Ryan Sessegnon was given the opportunity to impress against Wolves but he was hauled off after just 26 minutes, with Conte opting to switch from five to four at the back at 2-0 down. 

For a system so reliant on it’s full-backs, the numbers accumulated by Tottenham’s quartet is poor. In fact, in the four matches Kieran Tripper has played since his January move to Newcastle, he’s already scored as many goals as Tottenham’s full-backs in their 50 accumulative appearances (two). 

Tottenham missed out on key target Adama Traore, who went to Barcelona in January

Tottenham missed out on key target Adama Traore, who went to Barcelona in January

Reguilon has been Tottenham’s most consistent performer and has one goal and three assists in 20 league games, while Emerson is next with one assists in 18 games. Doherty has just one assist in seven games, while Sessegnon is yet to contribute to a goal in his five appearances.    

In truth, Conte has to take at least a modicum of responsibility for the poor results of late. There are reports circulating stating senior players are pushing for Joe Rodon to start, and perhaps that’s an idea worth exploring. 

But with Kane struggling to find the net – despite getting the chances to do so – while individual errors are soaring, it’s a tough ask for the Italian – particularly in the absence of Skipp and Dier.  

And without a recognised back-up striker to provide competition, while the search for a new centre-back and right wing-back have been pushed back to the summer, it’s up to the players to go above and beyond their usual standards, not below them. 



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