London — Tottenham are in trouble as rivals rise. His 0-2 loss to Aston Villa on Sunday was the inevitable end to a few weeks in which they have struggled. If you keep stepping into the mud, you may end up getting stuck.

Off-the-ball meek and utterly devoid of ideas: this was as bad as Tottenham have been since appointing Antonio Conte. I called again. The Spurs head coach may be relieved that his bosses are coming to pick up on the blunder, as he has scored 13 points in his league last 10 Premier League games. Thrilling, torn by a comeback and a late goal, but it’s been a while since Conte’s team was effective.

Since the beginning of October they have had a minus three goal difference, registered slightly fewer expected goals without penalties (xG) than they gave up, and gave opponents just as many as the 134 they took. Allowed shots. In almost every respect they are playing like a team firmly in the middle of the Premier League pack. They are a far cry from the team that placed Arsenal in fourth place last season. Conte argues it shouldn’t.

“I repeat that last season we did miracles,” Conte said of his side’s late-season rally to reach the Champions League. I only played 12 or 13 players who weren’t injured.We played with the best players every game.Don’t forget Arsenal were 4 points ahead with 3 games to go. Finished 20 points less than Manchester City.

“I remember a lot of people talking about Tottenham as a title contender in the summer. From my experience, it was a little crazy.”

They’re not talking about Tottenham as title contenders now. Ahead of that, Manchester United and Liverpool appear to be revitalized again with new ideas and influential signings. The Spurs have been waiting for Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to do something since the departure of Mauricio Pochettino this year. Between them they registered just four shots in a game where Aston Villa challenged the hosts to beat them. 14 players made just two shots.

For the first hour, this was a very impressive defensive display for the visitors, but the criticism that might be made at Unai Emery’s door is that they paid too much respect to this limp approximation of Tottenham. That’s it. The game was there to win early as Olly Watkins investigated with purpose and added by Leon Bailey’s direct run, but in the first half as he was worn by both John McGuinn and Emiliano Buendia , retreated until forming a back six. Sure he could have flipped the cross in the box, but adding body to his line of defense increased the chances of one of them making a crucial mistake. Ashley Young seemed likely to do so when he overshot the ball onside against Ivan Perisic.

Perisic fended off Robin Olsen’s onslaught and shoved a cross into the back post. Ultimately, the Spurs striker could only turn a rather tame header into goal, which Young was able to fix safely with a flick. That wasn’t too far off from Tottenham’s attacking threat total, as Tottenham went relentlessly for a ten-game streak in which they conceded their first goal. There are, but only the latter show tricks to open low blocks on a regular basis.

Conte may point to the lack of options within the squad, but the manager’s wit to use more of what he has, turning Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses into the Premier League’s most powerful offensive weapon beyond? He seems to think so.

“The central defenders, the central midfielders and the wingbacks played well,” said Conte. “We struggled a little bit up front. When you have the solutions on the bench to change the game, it’s easier.”

With Boubakal Kamara attached to Kane’s hip, Tottenham’s most reliable route to goal was blocked, with little precious opportunity for the England captain to turn and play a through ball from deep. The most worrying thing about the Spurs hierarchy is the inability of the manager and players to really adapt.

Villa achieved it and a bigger thrust coming into the second half was enough to take the lead with a goal typified by the passivity that Conte was appointed to eradicate from this ground.Hugo Lloris spilled Douglas Lewis’ bouncy hits and hopes. While Ben Davis and Ivan Perisic were on the indifferent sidelines, Watkins crept up in front of flatfooter Clement Langle. Had the former scrambled back quickly enough, Emiliano Buendía’s shot would have reached the goal line before it rolled into the bottom corner.

There was no loud roar from the wounded beast this time. A few tame swipes didn’t test the more enthralled Villa, with a strong block from Matt Doherty denying Watkins a goal his industry fully deserves. It was a rare example of the Spurs’ intensity in the closing stages. Immediately after Douglas Lewis walked around what should have been his opponent’s midfield, he directed a lofted pass past Loris with a flick of his right-footed boot without putting pressure on John McGuinn.

The only fireworks by a Tottenham employee were aimed at the auditorium, with Conte issuing a strong warning for refusing to sell ‘fantasies and dreams’ to supporters. Such an era has come to Spurs.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment,” he said. “Now we have to fight because we are there and in this league we can skate right away. From start to finish the road is not that long and we can skate right away. I I believe in my beliefs.” I believe in these players, but please don’t give me anything you can’t promise. ”

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