An excellent, well-fought game between two arch-rivals
Antonio Conte sensed a lull around a stadium that, from the start of the second half, had pulsated to the rhythm of a relentless Tottenham performance. There had been scant threat of a Leeds equaliser but the volume had tailed off and, with a few minutes left, any drop in energy could prove costly. Looking up to the stands, he waved his arms furiously until the faithful had summoned a noise to his liking; it did the trick, because Spurs heaved themselves over the line and bred a sense that the handover between eras started right here.
That is what Conte brings: an intensity, drama and insistence that sweep others along with him. Natural charisma like that does not grow on trees and, whether you are a player or a fan, it comes with demands. Meeting them tends to be worth it and, if evenings like this become the norm here, Spurs may discover that soon enough. They looked like a team in their head coach’s image after the interval, undoing the harm caused during a horribly laboured first half and setting a standard Conte will demand they match.
What a turnaround this was given the fact that, at half-time, Spurs were booed off by a crowd who had witnessed a continuation of the worst traits they displayed under Nuno Espírito Santo and José Mourinho. “Our fans weren’t satisfied with the football we played and I agreed with them,” Conte said. Bad habits cannot be erased overnight and this was a reminder: Dan James’s opener for Leeds, prodded in just before the interval, was entirely deserved because the only initiative on show had come from Marcelo Bielsa’s markedly improved visitors.
Conte had 15 minutes to cajole a reaction and the ferocity of Tottenham’s response was underlined by the statistics. They ran 3.7km further than Leeds, who had been a version of their fizzing best, in the second half and it gave their extra quality a platform. Within six minutes of re-emerging they hit the woodwork twice, Harry Kane’s effort squeezing on to a post via Illan Meslier and Son Heung-min’s cross-shot pinballing off Diego Llorente on to the bar; they did not let up and their goals, while not in contention for any end-of-season awards, were well signposted.
|21 November 2021||9:00 am||Green League||2021-2022|