EPL

Conte demands improvements after Sanchez edges Spurs past Watford

By Sports Desk January 01, 2022

Antonio Conte insisted Tottenham have room for improvement if they are to enjoy future success after his side edged past Watford.

Spurs have yet to lose in eight Premier League games under Conte, extending the longest unbeaten start by a Tottenham manager in league competition.

It seemed for large parts on Saturday that Spurs would have to settle for consecutive draws as Daniel Bachmann repeatedly thwarted the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min at Vicarage Road.

However, Davinson Sanchez headed home Spurs' latest ever winning Premier League goal since Opta began recording data (95:45) as he rose the highest to seal all three points for the visitors in a 1-0 win.

Victory over Claudio Ranieri's struggling side moves Spurs within two points of fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played two games more, but Conte still wants more from his side.

He told Sky Sports: "It is important to get three points. We know we have to suffer to get points. We are building a team to try to be competitive in the future but we know we have to be competitive in this season too.

"It is important to be humble, to fight and to suffer. I think everything can improve.

"It was difficult because we didn't score but created chances and when you find an opponent who is well organised it is not simple.

"But when you score the game changes and you find spaces to attack. I am happy with the commitment and effort from the players. We were a bit tired but I wish the world to my friend Claudio Ranieri the best because [Watford] deserve something."

Conte has never lost a Premier League match against an Italian manager (W5 D1), with three wins to his name against Ranieri.

The former Inter head coach expressed his satisfaction with the performance of his side as he commented on how difficult the busy festive period has been.

He added to BBC's Match of the Day: "To play so many games in a few days is not easy. This was the fifth game in 13 days and if you think we played almost with the same players, this period is busy but at the same time we try to get a result because it is very important, three points is very important.

"We have to improve the last pass, in the first half it was 29 crosses and no goals, it is important for us to improve the quality in the last pass because that gives you the possibility to score."

Before the Watford clash, Conte called for patience as he warned Champions League football will not be sealed with a couple of months of work and one transfer window.

But Conte feels the best way for Spurs to succeed in January is to keep playing the way they are doing, as opposed to focusing on various needs in the transfer market.

"Honestly, when Tottenham put me in charge, I asked for time to make my evaluation about the squad, now I did and for sure we will have a meeting with the club," he continued.

"It is important always to be honest, to understand where we are at in this moment, which is our point of start and then I will see. January is not simple, but maybe we will see what happens.

"We have to continue to work in this way and these players are giving me everything, great commitment and trust – the best buy in January is to continue this way. Then we will see what are our intentions are."

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    Los Angeles FC head coach Steve Cherundolo is hoping to maintain their "contagious" winning feeling when they travel to the Q2 Stadium to take on Austin FC. 

    The Black and Gold are unbeaten in their previous six MLS fixtures after emerging 3–1 victors away at Orlando City last time out to keep them within striking distance of league leaders Real Salt Lake.

    Cherundolo's team have the comfort of an extra game in hand over the surrounding sides, but the 45-year-old wants an improved performance after their display last week. 

    "Winning is contagious, and winning is important," Cherundolo said. "Winning away from home is a lot of fun. 

    "It certainly wasn't one of our prettiest games, but we had solutions at times, but not all the time. We were hoping to manage our game a little better in possession, but we were unable to do that. 

    "That is what we will take away for something to improve on, but the result, the effort are some big pluses to take away from tonight."

    Meanwhile, Austin are eighth in the Western Conference having suffered a third consecutive defeat as they went down to the Colorado Rapids.

    Austin are winless in their last three games against their opponents, and head coach Josh Wolff expects another difficult encounter on Thursday. 

    "LAFC are one of the best teams in the league," Wolff began. "They have enough weapons, and their attacking players are ruthless and are extremely dangerous.

    "For me they are the best team in the league once again. I think they have so much talent and so much depth which goes a long way in this league. If it's a difficult day, they still have players to make plays. 

    "We have got to do better with our chances. Our key players have to perform and execute."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Austin FC – Sebastian Driussi

    The Austin captain will hope to mark his 100th appearance for the club with a goal, and is currently the top scorer for the Verde and Black's with five goals. 

    LAFC – Mateusz Bogusz

    Mateusz Bogusz has been involved in a goal in six consecutive league matches with four goals and two assists. 

    Only Carlos Vela (11 in 2019-20) has produced more in LAFC history, while only two players (Luciano Acosta - nine, Lionel Messi - eight) have had a longer streak in MLS this season.

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    The Black and Gold's are unbeaten in their last three meetings with Austin scoring at least three goals in each of those triumphs. 

    Austin's last victory over their opponents came in 2022, with the Texas side winning both of their MLS encounters with LAFC that season. 

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    Austin FC - 27.6%

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    LAFC - 48.3%

  • Inter Miami v Columbus Crew: Black & Gold aim for further road joy against gutsy Herons Inter Miami v Columbus Crew: Black & Gold aim for further road joy against gutsy Herons

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    The Real Madrid-bound attacker sustained a blow to his nose after an aerial challenge with Austria's Kevin Danso before Mbappe was withdrawn on Monday.

    France held on for a 1-0 victory in Dusseldorf to move level with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, but Deschamps will have to sweat over Mbappe's fitness before facing Ronald Koeman's men on Friday.

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    The former Paris Saint-Germain man remains without a goal from a total of 18 shots in the tournament, while he has registered 12 strikes from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

    Mbappe played the cross in for Max Wober's decisive first-half own-goal, however, as the centre-back's inadvertent error proved the difference in the pair's tournament opener.

    France are the first European side at major tournaments (World Cup/Euros) to benefit from 10 own-goals, four more than any other side – Germany are the next best on six.

    Deschamps was still satisfied with Les Bleus' work, though acknowledged their failure in front of goal.

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    N'Golo Kante was named as the Player of the Match after his efficient display in midfield, having only returned to the international setup for this tournament after a two-year absence.

    No France player made more successful tackles than Kante's two (level with Jules Kounde), while the midfielder's pair of interceptions marked the most for Les Bleus.

    "Everything was not perfect but we have the result we wanted, this is a good start," Kante said. "There are solid foundations, we have to be more efficient.

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