Tottenham Hotspur’s top four hopes were dealt a dent as the north Londoners played host to the opening Premier League clash of 2023.
In what Antonio Conte hoped would be a new year, new Spurs, it was anything but that for the Italian’s side.
Heading into the game with Aston Villa, the Lilywhites had conceded the first goal in their last nine matches in all competitions and indeed they would continue that trend of 2022 again on Sunday afternoon, stretching that wretched run to ten fixtures.
However, unlike they did against Leeds in a 4-3 win and the 2-2 draw with Brentford on Boxing Day, they failed to bounce back this time out.
Goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz meant Conte saw his side swept aside 2-0 with relative comfort.
Unai Emery is still yet to lose to Spurs and it was a fellow countryman he arguably had to thank.
Bryan Gil was given his first start of the league campaign for Tottenham this weekend but failed to grab what PA reporter George Sessions described as his “big opportunity“.
It may have been the returning Hugo Lloris’ error that saw the Londoners head behind in the second half but at the opposite end of the pitch Gil was incredibly quiet.
It was hardly a surprise, therefore, that he was dragged off shortly after the hour mark having lost the ball an alarming 12 times, once every 5.2 minutes of play.
Afforded a chance to play as a result of Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison’s unavailability, it was a golden opportunity to showcase what he could offer to Spurs.
Yet, this was a laboured showing, one which is unlikely to earn him too many Premier League starts in 2023.
The 21-year-old completed just one of his three dribble attempts and made one key pass, while also failing to register a single shot or cross.
Gil’s defensive side was also lacking a great deal with the Spaniard winning only two defensive duels.
Ryan Sessegnon was the youngster’s substitute on 63 minutes and if Richarlison and Kulusevski are to be unavailable again, Conte is much better off selecting the former Fulham man instead.
Gil is yet to score for Spurs and on this evidence, that is no great shock. He is better served on the bench for the time being.