Antonio Conte blasted for ‘insane’ Tottenham derby selection which gave Arsenal upper hand

Antonio Conte Rangers v Tottenham

A pundit has slammed Antonio Conte for his Tottenham selection against Arsenal at the weekend, calling the decision to leave Ivan Perisic out of the starting lineup ‘insane’.

Perisic joined Tottenham on a free transfer from Inter Milan in the summer. He has gone on to make 25 appearances for the north London side, registering eight assists in that time.

Conte signed Perisic as he knew the wide man well from their time together at Inter. The manager was influential in changing Perisic’s style from a regular winger to a wing-back.

The Croatia international has done well this season, putting in several good performances and chipping in with goal contributions.

Surprisingly, though, Perisic was left on the bench for the visit of rivals Arsenal on Sunday. Instead, Conte selected 22-year-old Ryan Sessegnon at left wing-back.

Perhaps Conte thought Sessgnon would be more defensive-minded and could therefore deal with Bukayo Saka better. However, the change did not work as Saka ran the show in a 2-0 away victory for Arsenal.

Saka got in behind Sessegnon in the build up to Arsenal’s first goal. The Spurs man did not do enough to close him down, and this allowed Saka to fire at goal. Admittedly, Hugo Lloris should never have let it go in, but Sessegnon will know he should have done more to prevent a shot/cross in the first place.

For Arsenal’s second goal, Sessgnon was caught high up the pitch when the Gunners won the ball. This allowed Saka to carry forward before playing in Martin Odegaard, and the Arsenal skipper did the rest by picking out the bottom corner.

Antonio Conte lineup gamble backfires

Sessegnon had a great chance to get one back for Spurs in the second half, but he saw his left-footed effort thwarted by Aaron Ramsdale.

Perisic did eventually get on the pitch as Conte changed things up by bringing him on for Sessgnon in the 76th minute. By then though it was too late and Arsenal were controlling the derby.

During an interview with Football Insider, Spurs pundit John Wenham reacted to the loss and Conte’s selection by saying: “The decision to not start Perisic can be aligned with the decision to start Sessegnon.

“Absolutely incredible. Perisic was signed for exactly this magnitude of game. He has played in all the big games across Europe. AC vs Inter, Bayern v Dortmund.

“This is a player with a wealth of experience playing in stadiums like these. Conte’s system depends on these full-backs getting high and adding width, you then take out the one full-back we have who is capable of doing that, voluntarily, what can you say?

“You then replace him with someone who isn’t a Premier League-level footballer in Sessegnon. The weakening of the team is incredibly dramatic.

“Even a small change like that drained me of all confidence before a ball was kicked. It was an insane decision to not start Perisic.

“It backfired massively, I mean, what was he thinking? Where was the benefit?”

Conte could be coming to the end of his tenure at Spurs. According to the Daily Express, pressure is mounting on the Italian to turn things around. But if he fails to do this, then Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has a few replacement options in mind.

The man at the top of his list is former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. Other targets include Thomas Tuchel, Joachim Low and Luis Enrique.

Amid all the manager sack talk, Spurs are continuing their push for new January arrivals. And as per an Italian journalist, they are the frontrunners to capture a Roma star.