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Tottenham take another step forward as Antonio Conte continues to build momentum

·4-min read
 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Spurs continued their encouraging progress under Antonio Conte with a 3-0 win over Norwich to maintain the pressure on the top four.

Conte remains unbeaten in four League games and his side have now won three on the bounce, building impressive momentum ahead of the hectic festive schedule.

Spurs looked set for a comfortable afternoon when Lucas Moura fired them ahead in the tenth-minute but for long periods Norwich, who came into the game unbeaten in four, were worthy of a point, only to squander a host of chances.

But just as Norwich were gearing up for a big final push, Conte’s side killed the game as a contest when Davinson Sanchez pounced on a loose ball from a corner to double Spurs’ lead in the 67th-minute.

And, having won by two clear goals for the first time this season against Brentford on Thursday , Spurs showed a newfound ruthlessness to add gloss through Heung-min Son’s late strike.

Even considering the quality of the opposition, it felt like another big step forward for the team under Conte, and a number of individuals shone.

Oliver Skipp and Lucas were impressive, while Ben Davies is transformed under Conte and made both Spurs’ second-half goals, having earlier gone close himself.

With Brighton, Leicester and Liverpool to come in the next week, there could easily be a bump in the road just around the corner but there is little doubt that Conte has quickly improved everything about Spurs.

There were, however, reasons for concern for Conte, who could be without three wing-backs for Thursday’s visit of Rennes after Sergio Reguilon pulled up in the first half.

His replacement, Ryan Sessegnon, is suspended for the Europa Conference League game, while Emerson Royal missed the Canaries clash through illness.

Steven Bergwijn and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg also appeared to finish the game with knocks.

Lucas, Son shine but Kane frustrated

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Son has returned to form with two goals in four days, while Lucas was Spurs’ outstanding performer against Dean Smith’s side – along with Skipp

The Brazilian occasionally has these games when he feels unstoppable but they have been scarce this year, and his brilliant goal was his first in the League since February.

It was worth the wait, as Lucas left Billy Gilmour for dead with a deft touch, played a one-two with Son and fired into the top corner from 20 yards, leaving Tim Krul helpless.

Lucas was involved in Spurs’ best moments of the first half, including a killer pass to release Kane, only for the England captain’s lob to drop wide.

The performances of Son and Lucas this week are further encouraging signs for Conte’s Spurs, who are clicking in the final third, but only served to highlight Kane’s ongoing frustrations.

Ahead of the match, Conte said he had no worries about Kane’s form and suggested he would start scoring if the side created chances for him.

But the chances Kane is getting, he is missing – even if he twice tested Krul with fierce shots, the first leading to the corner for Sanchez’s goal.

And it is hard to escape the feeling that Kane still isn’t quite up to speed this season. More than once, he was leggy and short of a yard as Spurs tried to counter.

Doubting Kane is, of course, a fool’s game – he has always proved his critics wrong – but having sparked Lucas and Son back to life, Conte still needs to do the same for his talisman.

Skipp impresses again

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Skipp was one of Norwich’s most important players as they won the Championship at a canter last season and the Canaries wanted to re-sign him on loan for a further year.

Spurs eventually said no and Norwich turned to Chelsea’s Gilmour instead.

Skipp has been consistently solid for Spurs this season but in the early months of the campaign, it was easy to wonder if he was really ready to be a starting midfielder for a club with European ambitions.

It looked like he might have missed out on a year of getting to grips with the Premier League, as Gilmour at Carrow Road and Conor Gallagher, another young Chelsea midfielder, at Crystal Palace.

It is increasingly clear, however, that that view underestimates Skipp, who is growing with every game under Conte and was excellent again against his former club.

Skipp has been given more licence to get forward in the last two games, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg covering behind, and Conte has said he has huge scope to get better in possession. His qualities with the ball were on show when he burst forward from inside his own half and tested Krul from the edge of the area.

He was also involved in Son’s goal, returning a pass for the excellent Davies, who played in the South Korean.

Skipp’s tackles were equally eye-catching and twice he earned applause from the stadium for sliding in and winning the ball from an unlikely position.

The idea that Skipp missed out a year in his development by not returning to Norwich in the summer now looks farfetched.

He is already one of Spurs’ most important players and only looks likely to get better.

Read More

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Tottenham 3-0 Norwich: Efficient performance sends Antonio Conte’s side fifth

Tottenham player ratings vs Norwich: Ben Davies a major threat with Oliver Skipp improving every game

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