Tottenham slump to Villa defeat as top four hopes suffer blow
LONDON – Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of regaining their place in the English Premier League’s top four were scuppered after they suffered a demoralising 2-0 home defeat by Aston Villa on Sunday.
Antonio Conte’s lacklustre side were devoid of inspiration throughout the contest and were punished after the break by goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz.
Spurs have now conceded at least two goals in each of their last seven league matches, their longest such run since November 1988.
Spurs legend and former Tottenham and England manager Glenn Hoddle opined that this is the worst he has seen Spurs play when both their star attackers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane are on the pitch.
Tottenham’s France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, playing his first game since losing the World Cup final to Argentina, was at fault for Buendia’s 50th-minute opener.
Buendia told the BBC: “It’s an amazing win away. We needed to show everyone that we were capable of winning away, especially against a top team, so we take the three points.
“We knew before the game that we had to suffer, be compact, so everyone showed that character. We were ruthless in front of goal.”
And when Luiz added a second in the 73rd minute, home fans began streaming towards the exits.
Chants against Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy rang out and it could have gotten worse, as Villa sauntered to only a third win in their last 22 Premier League clashes with the Londoners.
Tottenham were booed off at the final whistle as defeat left them in fifth place with 30 points from 17 matches, two points behind Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and 13 behind local rivals and leaders Arsenal.
Villa, who claimed a third win in four league games since former Arsenal manager Unai Emery replaced Steven Gerrard in November, remain in 12th place with 21 points.
On Emery, Buendia said: “As soon as they came here, they told us we needed to win more points away from home and playing a top side like Tottenham team away and winning, we are very happy.”
Spurs, however, are not playing like a top side, with one pundit pointing out that they are “a long way off playing any decent sort of football”.
Mark Schwarzer, the former Australia, Fulham and Middlesbrough goalkeeper, said on BBC Radio: “It really has been a poor showing from Spurs. Players have lacked intensity and they have struggled with real quality.
“We’ve hardly seen Kane in the game. Son has had moments but nothing really came of it and (Ivan) Perisic has been quiet in the second half...
“I don’t think I have ever seen Conte so inactive in his technical area ever. He has been very, very quiet, he is just standing there with his arms folded, his hand on his chin... Conte will obviously not be a happy man. Losing 2-0, losing at home. Really poor from Tottenham, they really struggled.
“The hammer blow comes with the mistake from Lloris. But it was all about the reaction. The reaction was almost non-existent.”
Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness was more scathing on the custodian, saying on Sky Sports: “I am not a big fan of Hugo Lloris, I’ve said it for a long time.
“He’s made four errors leading to goals since the start of last season, the most of any ’keeper in the league. For me, he is past his sell-by date.”
Schwarzer, meanwhile, said Villa deserved their win.
He said: “Villa have played the game very, very well. They took the lead, it came from nothing but then from that moment onwards they have really controlled the game. They deserve to be 2-0 up and coming away with three points.” - REUTERS