Tottenham Hotspur had a bad week, but had a chance to turn things around in Milan today, playing an AC Milan squad that’s been almost as bad as they have at the San Siro. It did not go according to plan. A defensive lapse led to an early goal by Brahim Diaz, and Spurs failed to generate much in the offensive end. Antonio Conte didn’t make his subs until it was basically too late to matter, and Spurs limped to a 1-0 loss.
It’s not a catastrophic result, as Spurs have a chance to turn things around at home in early March, but it’s not going to to do much to encourage Spurs fans who have watched this team lose to two inferior teams over their past two matches.
As expected, Antonio Conte opted to start a young and inexperienced central midfield pairing of Pape Sarr and Oliver Skipp, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma injured and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg suspended. Emerson Royal started the match ahead of new signing Pedro Porro, while Clement Lenglet slotted in for Ben Davies.
- That goal, whoof. Romero got cooked, and the bulk of the blame should be directed at him, but I contend Forster should’ve done a lot better to either come out and contest the ball before the shot or angle his body so the deflection doesn’t right across the face of goal. (But sure, fine, the goal was 85% Cuti being bad)
- VAR is never around when you need it. Kane got absolutely clobbered by a swinging elbow in the box at the half hour mark but they didn’t even bother to review it. Insane. There were also at least 4-5 yellow-card worthy fouls on Milan players that didn’t get cards (but did get called as fouls). There was another incident similar in the second half that just went... uncommented. Wild.
- Sarr and Skipp both looked quite composed on the ball, after a few sketchy minutes of bedding in. Sarr has a grace about him in midfield that is super fun to watch — you can definitely see the natural talent there and it’s crazy in hindsight how he hasn’t been getting minutes. He was everywhere, and looked excellent.
- Something’s wrong with Deki and I’m not sure what it is. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if we find out a few weeks from now that he’s been carrying an injury for a while.
- Cuti Romero, man. Rough match. Got turned around a few times in defense and had at orange card (and that’s generous) early in the second. This was a match in which we needed him to show his best self and he... didn’t.
- [boilerplate paragraph about how Son Heung-Min was bad and looks broken]
- Shout out to Emerson Royal who might have been Spurs’ best player today, non-Sarr edition.
- Dier picked up a cheap yellow (infuriating considering the no-calls on the other end), his third in the competition, and will miss the return leg in March.
- Antonio Conte’s reticence towards making timely and impactful subs is driving me absolutely insane. This match was screaming for Richarlison and Danjuma at about the 55 minute mark but we don’t get Brazil’s #1 striker until 75’. And Ben Davies had a bit of a shocker as a sub.
- You know, on balance a 1-0 loss at the San Siro isn’t a terrible result, if you had any confidence that Spurs would be able to turn things around at home. But Spurs got pretty well smoked in the second half and right now I don’t have that level of confidence. It feels like we’re just playing out the string. Honestly, the way the past two matches have gone I wouldn’t be shocked if Daniel Levy already knows that Conte is leaving at the end of the season and that’s exactly what’s happening here.