Having not lost in his first nine games in domestic competitions after taking over in early November, Antonio Conte has now seen his Spursy Spurs consigned to four defeats in seven such games. Three of those came at the hands (well, feet) of Chelsea, all in January (in both legs of the League Cup semifinal and then in the league as well). The fourth arrived last night, courtesy of
Chelsea B Southampton.
While former Chelsea prospect Valentino Livramento did not play thanks to a knee concern, Chelsea loanee Armando Broja did, and even got on a scoresheet to bring Saints level halfway through the first half. (And I suppose Oriol Romeu is a former Chelsea man as well.)
Spurs then took the lead again in the second half (despite a foul/head injury to Broja at the start of the play), but two late (nearly identical) goals gave the visitors all three points anyway, and gave Conte another night of questioning his recent career decisions.
The fact that Broja played and scored was noteworthy in and of itself, since the 20-year-old was a gametime decision thanks to a knee injury suffered in the weekend’s FA Cup match against Coventry City. Fortunately for all involved, it turned out to be only an impact injury rather than anything more serious as initially feared.
Broja’s latest heroics will of course only strengthen Southampton’s attempts at keeping the loanee beyond this season, though Ralph Hasenhüttl has dialed back on his confident claims in the last few days. It’s still far from a foregone conclusion that Broja stays with Saints for good.
“We have a good relationship with Chelsea and are in good contact. He is their player. We have tried to develop him here, and I think we have. If they think we should do it another year and do not want to sell him in the summer, then there is no better spot to be.
“It is not always in our hands and if he or the club have any other ideas, it is how it is.”
-Ralph Hasenhüttl; source: Hampshire Live
The points dropped mean that even if Spurs win all (three) of their games-in-hand now, they would not overtake us.
Despite the point gained, Norwich remain in the drop zone thanks to Newcastle beating Lampard’s Everton on Monday. Also on Monday, West Ham narrowly beat Watford (though the most notable thing from the game was noted animal abuser Kurt Zouma still getting to play) and Manchester United hilariously dropped points against Burnley with a 1-1 draw.
Our next Premier League game is still not for another ten days, but we remain third fairly comfortably, which isn’t too bad.