Conte demands more after Tottenham stalemate

It's advantage Arsenal in the race for the top-four after Spurs are held to a goalless draw at Brentford

Saturday, 23rd April — By Dan Carrier

Antonie Conte 2 - Credit Tottenham Hotspur FC

Premier League


TOTTENHAM’S sticky form continued at the worst possible time this evening (Saturday) as they scraped a nil-nil draw away at Brentford.

Having watched Arsenal climb three points ahead of them after despatching Manchester United 3-1 at home earlier in the day, Spurs needed to find a win to stay ahead of Mikel Arteta’s side.

But against an in-form Brentford, conducted by former Spurs favourite Christian Eriksen, Antonio Conte’s men were fortunate to escape with a point.

Brentford created the best chances, with Ivan Toney hitting the woodwork twice with headers that beat Hugo Lloris. And when Tottenham did have promising spells, a worrying lack of confidence seemed to pulse through the side.

Speaking after the game, Conte said there was still plenty to play for – especially with the north London derby at Spurs on May 12 still a game upon which the season hinges.

“We have to continue to improve because I think it is not enough if we want to stay in this race,” said Conte. “For sure in November you cannot imagine to receive this question. Now we are in the race and we have to stay. We know it is very difficult.”

Brentford looked far the livelier in the first half hour, with the strange lethargy Spurs suffered against Brighton in their previous game still yet to be shaken from their limbs.

Sloppy passing saw Tottenham give the ball away with alarming regularity. Brentford, on the other hand, had pace up front that worried Spurs, and with Eriksen always asking for the ball and looking to thread those passes over the top and through the lines, the home team enjoyed the best chances early on.

A series of corners caused Tottenham difficulties, including a Toney header that smashed against the bar and a shot by Vitaly Janelt that could have gone anywhere.

On 32 minutes, Heung-Min Son raised the ire of the home fans after he collapsed on the edge of the box after launching on a dangerous run. It was the first spark from the forward, who had been as quiet as his teammates.

Spurs could hardly have played worse in the first half, so the improvement after the break did not have to be much to be noticeable.

They began to play more expansively and earned a series of corners, with one spell seeing three shots whipped in and all stopped by late and desperate blocks. Brentford, however, looked dangerous when they broke forward, enjoying the spaces afforded by Tottenham as they searched for a breakthrough.

Towards the end, Harry Kane had to clear a Pontus Jansson header off the line, while Lloris could only watch as another Toney effort flew past him and struck a post.

Up the other end, Kane nearly scored the goal of the season when he launched himself at a cross and executed a near perfect bicycle kick – the only imperfection being the inch it flew wide of the far past with David Raya well beaten.

Spurs at least upped their game as the final whistle beckoned, but were well off the pace overall and could not raise themselves to snatch an undeserved winner.

Conte added: “It was a tough game. For sure, it was very difficult. They are a very physical team and they tried to exploit set pieces in a very dangerous way.

“I think defensively we were good but at the same time, I think we can do much better with the ball to create more chances to score.”

So it is advantage Arsenal, who are now two points head of their north London rivals with five games remaining.

Brentford: Raya, Ghoddas (Wissa, 78), Roerslev, Jansson, Sorensen, Henry, Jensen (Dasilva, 78), Janelt, Eriksen, Mbeumo, Toney
Substitutes not used: Jeanvier, Fosu-Henry, Peart-Harris, Baptiste, Stevens, Young-Coombes Lossl

Tottenham: Lloris, Romero, Dier, Davies, Royal (Moura, 85), Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Sessegnon (Sanchez, 73), Kulusevski, Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Gollini, Reguilon, Winks, Rodon, Bergwijn, White, Scarlett

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