Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham good value for Leeds win despite lack of star performers

By Sean Walsh
Spurs were victorious on Sunday
Spurs were victorious on Sunday / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages
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From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - The first half of Spurs' 2-1 win over Leeds on Sunday was less 'vintage Tottenham' and more 'modern Tottenham'.

The Lilywhites failed to complete the basic fundamentals of football. The passing was wayward, the pressing was lopsided and it felt like they lost every single duel.

Leeds went in front on the verge of half time and Spurs could have no complaints - they were getting outcompeted by a team without their two star players (Raphinha and Patrick Bamford). Something had to change.

One can only imagine what Antonio Conte's half time team talk looked like. It probably resembled Mike Bassett's rallying cry on the way to England's 4-0 thrashing by Mexico.

But whatever the Italian did say worked. In the opening 45 minutes, Tottenham looked lost and dazed, unable to even lean on star forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to drag them through to the break.

Antonio Conte, Sergio Reguilon
Reguilon fought hard to earn his goal / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon - who were atrocious in the first half - were the ones to grab the goals, albeit scruffy ones, to turn the game around. They'll be the ones to grab the headlines by virtue of finding the back of the net, but there weren't any standout players in the battling performance.

The whole team improved their levels just enough to battle their way back into a contest with one of the Premier League's toughest pressing sides. It required a collective improvement and Tottenham, for the first time since the days of Mauricio Pochettino, were able to count on a team performance without the need of one or two heroes.

Conte has preached that he will be fiercely loyal to players who show him the same respect, that the fortunes of the team is reliant on players who are willing to sacrifice and 'suffer'. That's exactly what Spurs showed in order to pick up the three points on Sunday and close the gap on fourth placed West Ham to four points.

The former Inter boss arrived in north London to find a team broken by the last two regimes, a team in need of uniting (and a lot of work required on their fitness). The star performances will come in time - of course they will, there's still plenty of quality in this squad - but Conte will undoubtedly be pleased to see such desire and intensity in lieu of that so early into his reign.

Antonio Conte
Conte immediately embraced his coaching staff at full time / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Spurs will not face another so-called Big Six side over the next five Premier League games, giving them ample time to boost their Champions League credentials and find their feet in Conte's perfect image before their real tests begin.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has seen few team performances as strong as that with a full crowd backing the team. Sunday's win could prove pivotal in creating that bond between players and fans again.


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