Antonio Conte bemoaned Tottenham’s fatigue and foggy thinking as his side failed to make proper inroads to fourth-placed Arsenal after being forced to settle for a draw against 10-man Southampton.
Spurs hoped to build on Harry Kane’s first-half equaliser from the penalty spot but had two goals disallowed by the officials, the first for a marginal offside and the second for a supposed foul. Kane replied for Spurs on 41 minutes after the Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse’s third goal in three matches gave the hosts a deserved lead.
Kane had the ball in the net seven minutes after the break but the VAR deemed the England captain offside and, later, Fraser Forster avoided the ignominy of an embarrassing own goal after the Tottenham half-time substitute, Matt Doherty, was penalised for a foul in the buildup. Spurs are now five points behind their north London rivals, albeit with two games in hand.
“It was an opportunity but we missed it,” Conte said. “When you have that situation you have to try to exploit it to get three points. We knew very well. The situation at one point of the game was positive for us but I think the second half we felt the fatigue and our mind wasn’t clear to make the best decisions.
“I tried also with substitutions to change something [by bringing on] Lucas Moura and [Bryan] Gil. I decided to change [Sergio] Reguilón because he was on a yellow card and I think it was much better in this way. We didn’t find a solution. We scored but they decided to disallow the goal.”
Conte made three changes from his team’s victory against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, with Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Ben Davies replacing Moura, Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp. The Italian also confirmed that winger Steven Bergwijn was absent altogether with a calf injury sustained against Palace.
“To play after 44 hours is not easy for every team and I think I have seen a bit of fatigue in my players. For this reason we make sometimes not a good decision in the last pass [and] the finishing. We can do much better.”