Tottenham manager Antonio Conte admitted that he was overjoyed with the attitude and composure his side showed against Aston Villa despite being under the cosh. Spurs took the lead early in the first half but were placed under immense pressure by Villa but hung in the game to win 4-0.
Following both Arsenal and Manchester United losing early in the day, it saw a lot of pressure placed on Tottenham to get all three points and ensure that they cement their place in the top four. However, the North Londoners took the lead early against Aston Villa through Heung-Min Son but were then subjected to relentless pressure from the home side. Somehow, Hugo Lloris managed to stop the Villians not once but six times over the space of the first half to keep the lead going.
Things changed in the second half as Dejan Kulusevski and Son netted a few more times with the South Korean capping off his hattrick to ensure that Spurs emphatically walked away with a 4-0. It pushed their lead to three points over Arsenal and hands Antonio Conte’s side some breathing room. But the Italian was overjoyed at the performance and admitted as much, with him pleased with the attitude they showed.
"A strong team needs character and personality to be strong mentally, because during a game you can have a period when you suffer because the opponent is pushing you a lot. Today, the first half was difficult but we knew this because when play at Aston Villa away in this stadium with this fantastic atmosphere I don't think there is one team that wins easy,” Conte said, reported Sky Sports.
"For this reason, I was pleased with attitude of the players, the composure. They decided to stay strong. And then in the second half, I think we won the game in an important way. For sure, we have to be more good when there is this type of pressure and try to continue to play. Because every time we had the ball we had chances to score. If you have an opposition who plays with high pressure, the space will open to attack. In the second half, we were much better I think because the intensity of Aston Villa was slower.
The win does give Tottenham a three point lead over their North London rivals but they have also played one more game than Arsenal, who still have two games in hand. That includes one against Spurs and one against Chelsea but they aren’t the only side in the race with West Ham and Manchester United six points behind Spurs. It saw Conte believe that they knew they couldn’t lose to Villa and he’s pleased to see not just the tactical improvement but also a change in attitude.
“It was a great win for us. Especially when you play a game after your rivals for a place in the Champions League - Wolverhampton, Manchester United and Arsenal - have lost. In this moment you start to feel the blood. It is important in this moment not to fail. We are working a lot on the mentality and the players are giving me satisfaction.
“For sure, to see this improvement makes me proud. It gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, I know we have to work on this improvement. Because there is not only the tactical, technical and physical aspects but there is the mentality. There is a lot of space for improvement. But today they showed me they have improved this aspect,” he added.