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Thursday, February 2, 2023

WATCH: Antonio Conte claims Spurs can't stand the schedule as Newcastle move into top four

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London – Tottenham boss Antonio Conte claimed he does not have the strength in depth to compete for the Premier League title after Newcastle’s 2-1 win ended Spurs’ perfect home record this season on Sunday.

A second damaging defeat in five days for Conte’s men leaves them five points adrift of leaders Arsenal, having played a game more than the Gunners.

Newcastle moved into the top four and only two points behind third-placed Tottenham thanks to first-half goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron.

Harry Kane pulled a goal back for the home side after the break, but it was not enough to prevent a first defeat in 11 games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Conte rubbished suggestions his side could challenge for a first league title since 1961 after being thoroughly outplayed in a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday.

Spurs are seven games into a run of 13 matches in 43 days.

And without the injured Cristian Romero, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevki, the Italian said the fallibilities of his squad were exposed.

“The squad doesn’t allow to lose four players in this moment,” said Conte.

“The important teams that are going to fight to win, the title contenders, you see them when you play every three days because you need a deep squad and strong squad with quality. We have only just started our process.

“If we play one game every six or seven days, I think we can fight for something important.

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“To play every three days, I think we have to be patient and not be disappointed too much.”

– Magpies’ marker –

Newcastle laid down a marker in the battle for a place in next season’s Champions League as Eddie Howe’s men edged ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Howe will be given further resources to strengthen in the January window, posing a major threat to the traditional powers for a place in the top four.

But the Newcastle boss claimed putting his side’s rise down the club’s new-found wealth is unfair on the efforts of his players, many of whom were signed before the Saudi takeover.

“The problem is that (the money) takes away the credit from the players,” said Howe.

“We’re enjoying the moment but we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves.”

If it were not for the heroics of Hugo Lloris, Spurs would have been on the end of a humiliating scoreline at Old Trafford in midweek.

But the France captain was culpable for both Newcastle’s goals before the break.

Lloris was furious the opening goal was allowed to stand as he collided with Wilson.

As Lloris fell to the ground, Wilson spun and lifted the loose ball perfectly into an unguarded net. Despite a VAR check, no foul was awarded.

“Sometimes the goalkeepers get too much protection,” said Wilson. “He’s come out and just jumped into me. I don’t have to get out of his way and thankfully we’ve gone 1-0 up.”

Five minutes before half-time, the visitors doubled their lead when Almiron jinked through the Tottenham defence before slotting beyond Lloris, who should have done better to keep the Paraguayan’s shot out.

Spurs were given hope as Clement Lenglet headed Son Heung-min’s corner into the direction of Kane to nod in his 11th goal of the season on 54 minutes.

But Tottenham were otherwise lacking in ideas and Newcastle showed why they boast the best defensive record in the Premier League as they held firm in the final half hour.

AFP

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