Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

‘Ripped to shreds’: Paul Merson goes all out for Conte, naming Tottenham problem position after Arsenal embarrassment

Antonio Conte Tottenham v Fulham

Paul Merson has torn strips off Tottenham and has gone all guns blazing at their manager Antonio Conte after analysing what he feels was a north London derby ’embarrassment’ against Arsenal.

First-half goals after 14 minutes and 36 minutes – the first a woeful own goal howler from Hugo Lloris – put Arsenal in total command. And while Spurs improved second half, the damage was long done and they could not find a way past Man of the Match Aaron Ramsdale.

It means the 2-0 win extends Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League to eight points following Man City’s loss at Man Utd the previous day.

The Gunners next face another massive test of their title credentials next Sunday against Erik ten Hag’s improving side.

As for Tottenham, the games don’t get easier with a trip to face Manchester City on Thursday evening next.

Their fans, however, are far from happy at the direction the club is going. While they are through to the Champions League last 16, there is disharmony lurking strongly. Their supporters trust has already written to the club to express anger at the direction the club is heading.

And with Spurs now sat fifth, and five points adrift of Man Utd in fourth, the signs do not look good for Conte.

Now Merson has rubbed salt into the wounds by tearing strips off their display.

And he did not hold back in his criticism of Conte, feeling he left it far too late to change what he feels is a problem position.

Discussing Tottenham’s non-existent midfield, he told Sky Sports: “You’re talking about one of the greatest managers about in Conte, he hasn’t changed it.

Merson labels Tottenham an embarrassment

“He’s just let that team go out there and just get absolutely ripped to shreds. He had to change it.

“If I’m being honest I think any of us could play where [Thomas] Partey is playing at the moment. Honestly I do, no one has got near him.”

Merson went on to say that it was “embarrassing” from Tottenham in the first half.

He added: “I can’t believe how a manager of that quality has not tried to nip this in the bud. It’s pretty embarrassing.”

Assessing Tottenham’s set-up under Conte, Merson added: “Tottenham are letting in two goals every week and Arsenal are playing the best football they have in many years.

“Not like this (level of confidence), they’re top of the league, flying along, breaking records. It’s a roll I just couldn’t see Tottenham matching.”

Merson does not think the way Tottenham set up is helping their performances.

“They [Tottenham] are playing three at the back, two holding midfielders and every week they let in two goals. I don’t know how you get away with it, it’s unbelievable,” he added.

Spurs midfield outclassed

“Bar the Palace game – which if Palace had Kane they would have won 4-0 that day – they can’t keep turning it off and on like a tap.

“And people forget about the second half, the first half was embarrassing at the highest level. I’ve never seen a derby game like that.

“They were outclassed, everything Arsenal were doing you see patterns of play you could see what they were doing. Zinchenko coming in then going and Partey will come short. Then the other two will go forward or open the game, (but) with Tottenham it’s cuffy. You can’t see any plan.

“The second goal… that happens on Sunday morning down the scrubs. I feel sorry for the midfield players they have been left to be embarrassed today.”

After City, Spurs then hot Fulham next Monday night. Having lost four from 10 games at home this season, they will not want to be beaten again.

Following that, it’s Preston away in the FA Cup before another midweek home game, against Manchester City, on Wednesday February 5. Failure to pick up some good results could see the atmosphere become toxic.

READ MOREConte explains why Tottenham loss doesn’t concern him; compares Arsenal to another Premier League side