Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Conte defends major team selection call and refuses to compare Tottenham to Chelsea

Dan Burnham
Antonio Conte looks on during the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea, January 2022

Antonio Conte defended the call to start back-up goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and refused to compare his Tottenham side to Chelsea after their Carabao Cup defeat.

Spurs were comprehensively beaten over the two legs of the semi-final. The Blues were a class above them as they secured a 1-0 win to progress as 3-0 aggregate victors to next month’s final at Wembley.

They were handed their solitary goal when Gollini missed his punch from a corner and Antonio Rudiger headed in.

Despite that, Conte felt the Atalanta loanee was a positive performer in the games at both Stamford Bridge and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Speaking post-match, the Italian manager said: “I don’t know about this [frustration at first choice Hugo Lloris not playing].

“I made the decision and I think Gollini played a good game. In the first game we lost 2-0 and in this game we only lost 1-0. I think we have to think about a situation more important than this one.

“Pierluigi had always played in the Carabao Cup and Europa Conference League. I think it’s always important to give goalkeepers minutes and I think he deserved to have this chance and play an important game.

“I don’t think we can compare the Tottenham and Chelsea situations right now. It’s not fair to compare. It’s impossible to compare.”

After a first half where they rarely threatened, Tottenham did fight back after the break. But ultimately they still didn’t do enough to score.

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Conte still claimed: “I think the performance was much better than the performance in the first leg.

“The first half we struggled a bit, especially the way to try to bring pressure without the ball. In the second half the performance was good, the intensity was high.

“I think we deserved a better final result today. But I think after two games Chelsea deserved to reach the final in this competition.”


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Conte explains Ndombele decision

Another of Conte’s team selections which was put under the microscope was the exclusion of Tanguy Ndombele from the squad.

The French midfielder was booed off by Spurs supporters in their FA Cup third-round clash at the weekend.

“It was a tactical decision but before to take the decision, I don’t take the decision if I don’t consult the club. There is the club line and I have to follow the club line,” Conte explained.

Next up for Tottenham is a north London derby on Sunday, which their manager offered further concern about.

He said: “We have to recover some players. When we lose one, two or three players we’re in a bit of trouble.”

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