Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-0 in the first match of the new year to ruin Antonio Conte’s men’s plan of finishing in the top four.
Tottenham lost first for the tenth time in a row in all competitions thanks to a mistake by Hugo Lloris in the lead-up to Emiliano Buendia’s first goal in the 50th minute.
With his 73rd-minute goal, Douglas Luiz secured the victory for Unai Emery’s team, giving Tottenham manager Antonio Conte a lot to think about.
After some strong work from Ivan Perisic, Tottenham got their first genuine chance for either team in the 40th minute when Ashley Young was compelled to make a fantastic goalline clearance from a Harry Kane header.
But after the break, Villa seized the lead thanks to Buendia’s low shot after Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris dropped a long-range Luiz shot.
When Luiz sprinted onto the end of a wonderful ball from John McGinn, he surprised Tottenham once more and confirmed a costly defeat for the north London team.
The atmosphere at Tottenham is always on the verge of deteriorating, and the irate locals were not shy in expressing their displeasure after a demoralizing home loss made it a miserable start to the new year.
Emiliano Buenda capitalized on a mistake by the returning Hugo Lloris as Aston Villa struck early, and Douglas Luiz completed a swift move to maintain their impressive progress under the leadership of new head coach Unai Emery.
Antonio Conte’s pragmatic approach hasn’t seemed to resonate with Spurs’ fans, and this humiliating defeat, which was met with loud whistles from the crowd, won’t stop rumors of a coaching change. The season’s finish marks the end of Conte’s contract.
In their first game back following the league’s restart, the Spurs boss made four changes to the lineup that drew at Brentford.
Since his contribution to Argentina’s World Cup victory, Cristian Romero made his first appearance.
Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga were benched in favor of Romero and Ben Davies in the defense.
Lloris made his debut after returning from France’s trip to the Qatari World Cup final.
For Tottenham, Bryan Gil received his first Premier League start, and important winger Dejan Kulusevski was sorely missed due to a muscle injury.
Emery chose the same lineup that fell to Liverpool at home on Boxing Day, relegating World Cup winner Emiliano Martnez to the bench and keeping Robin Olsen in goal despite the Argentinean’s tardy return to training on Friday.
Ollie Watkins was set free by a long ball played by Villa, and he cut inside before shooting low and harmlessly wide of the goal post.
When Spurs countered, Matt Doherty nudged Tyrone Mings for their first shot on goal, but Boubacar Kamara diverted the defender’s effort for a corner.
Villa was content to sit deep and frustrate their opponents, which made it difficult for Tottenham to generate openings.
Romero’s lunging tackle on Watkins provided the game with the spark it needed to get going, and as a result, there was a brief altercation between the two teams that culminated in Romero receiving a yellow card.
With Spurs having to open them up, Villa’s gameplan appeared to be working well, and as the half went on, the home crowd started to get frustrated.
Team Emery was playing with conviction and assurance. While Villa played with their struggling opponents, Douglas Luiz’s effort was stopped by Lloris and a third goal nearly materialized. A third victory in four league contests under Emery is a fantastic run, but storm clouds are forming for Conte.
Unai Emery has led Aston Villa to victories in three of his first four Premier League contests. He also became the first Villa manager to win his first two away contests in the league since John Gregory in March 1998.