Ange Postecoglou was in a surprisingly good mood in his press conference following Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Sunday. Ange isn’t one for bombast pretty much ever, and we should be used to measured comments given to the assembled media, but there was a sense of stalwart resoluteness in his post-match press conference today. There was bad news, but also some contextual good news after a match that was equal parts chaotic, exciting, and disappointing.
First, the bad news. Rodrigo Bentancur was a first half substitute after taken out at the shins by a late challenge from Aston Villa
goon defender Matty Cash. The injury came soon after Lolo’s return from a significant knee injury that forced him to miss nearly a year of football. Big Ange confirmed that the injury was not precautionary and while he didn’t give any specific info the implication is that it might be a while before we see Roddy (as Ange calls him) on the pitch.
“Yeah, not sure [how he is]. It is his ankle I think. It wasn’t a great tackle. I thought he started the game so well and I think it was the reason we got a real good foothold on the game. He’s such a creative player. It’s the last thing we needed, another injury. So disappointed to lose him but we’re yet to see the extent of it.”
The loss to Villa today was Spurs’ third consecutive defeat after going their first ten matches of the season unbeaten. That said, there’s a pretty significant silver lining inside this cloud in that Big Ange was pretty pleased with how well Spurs played. This is a Tottenham blog and I’m biased, but I felt like Spurs outplayed Villa comfortably over the course of the match, with a bare-bones side and featuring two players (Bentancur, Gio Lo Celso) who hadn’t started a match all season.
Postecoglou agreed, noting that for him this was some of the best football Spurs have played all season.
“The outcome is obviously disappointing. Disappointing for our fans and particularly disappointing for our players because I felt the players we had out there did a fantastic job playing the football we want to play. On any other day it’s probably a game we win comfortably. It’s about those fine margins in football sometimes. Not happy with the defeat but as a manager when you put a team out there, what you’re looking for is some real belief and intent and the team we want to be and I saw loads of that today.
“You need to treat each game in isolation. There’s some pretty obvious reasons why the Chelsea game turned around and against Wolves it was extra time, but I didn’t like the way we played the whole game. So, that’s a different analysis. Today, I think we were so dominant in the game and it was disappointing to concede a goal from set-piece.
“They obviously looked threatening from crosses. We had four full-backs out there so we didn’t really have the height, which we knew would be an issue for us today but you kind of take those calculated risks with the flipside of it being that some of our football was outstanding today. I mean some of the goals we could have scored would have ended up being show reels for us in the way we want to play our football, so for me the positives definitely outweigh the negative of the result.”
That’s definitely a good sign because there are a lot of things working against Tottenham at the moment. The biggest is, of course, the injuries. Spurs have some significant ones including to James Maddison, Micky van de Ven, and Richarlison that have caused some issues, but have also opened up opportunities for some of the other players on the squad. One of those is Giovani Lo Celso, who played probably his best match for Spurs since Jose Mourinho was scowling on the sidelines. Postecoglou was quick to praise Gio for his work today and suggested that Spurs will need to rely on him a lot going forward.
“Yeah I thought Gio did really well today in the role we had him. He was creative and scored a good goal. He was always threatening and he worked hard. He hasn’t played a lot of football. The reality of it is that we’re not going to get too many back. We’ll get Biss back for next week but we might have lost Bentancur. We only had six or seven on the bench so everyone who is here at the moment is going to have to play a part.
“We have got eight [injuries], Bentancur [is] nine, we had a couple of suspensions today and we’ve only got a squad of 25. You do the sums and that’s what we’ve got. We lost Ashley Phillips during the week as well. It is just the situation we’re in at the moment, but we’ll get through it. It might take a little while, but we’ll get through it and as long as we show the same intent and play the football we did today, I’ve got no doubt when we come out the other side, we’ll be a very good football team.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier. Spurs’ next match is away vs. the league leading Manchester City next Sunday.