Paul Merson slams Antonio Conte’s tactics after Spurs’ woeful first-half performance against Arsenal

‘It was quite embarrassing’: Paul Merson slams Antonio Conte’s tactics after Tottenham’s dismal first-half performance against Arsenal… and insists he ‘has no idea how a manager of this quality’ failed to adjust his strategy

Ex-Arsenal star Paul Merson slammed Tottenham boss Antonio Conte for failing to change tactics during Spurs’ woeful first-half performance in the north London derby on Sunday.

An own goal from Hugo Lloris and a long-range shot from Martin Odegaard gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead over Spurs at half-time, while Mikel Arteta’s side dominated their north London rivals.

The Gunners went into the heated derby with added motivation, knowing that a win would put them eight points clear at the top of the Premier League after Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester United on Saturday.

Paul Merson heavily criticized Tottenham manager Antonio Conte for not changing his tactics

Paul Merson heavily criticized Tottenham manager Antonio Conte for not changing his tactics

Arsenal dominated Spurs in the first half but the manager chose to maintain his form and tactics

Arsenal dominated Spurs in the first half but the manager chose to maintain his form and tactics

Speaking to Sky Sports at half-time, Merson said: “The only heart for Tottenham is Kane’s chance. Arsenal were great. Spurs were really bad but had two good chances.’

He went on to suggest that he and studio mates Jamie Redknapp and Louis Saha could have played in defensive midfield instead of Arsenal star Thomas Partey, who almost scored a miracle goal in his impressive first-half display.

“Conte just let this team go out and tear them to pieces,” Merson said. “I think any of us could play where Partey is, nobody is near him.

“I don’t know how a manager of this quality didn’t try to nip this in the bud. It was quite embarrassing.’

Harry Kane almost pulled one back late in the first half but his side went 2-0 down

Harry Kane almost pulled one back late in the first half but his side went 2-0 down

Jamie Redknapp questioned Conte's decision to play Ryan Sessegnon against Bukayo Saka

Jamie Redknapp questioned Conte’s decision to play Ryan Sessegnon against Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka caused Spurs left-back Ryan Sessegnon many problems in the first half and was directly involved in both Arsenal goals, forcing Lloris’ own goal and assisting Odegaard in the second.

Redknapp, who called Saka one of the “best attackers” in world football, questioned Conte’s decision to play against Sessegnon.

‘Saka is one of the best attackers in world football. The manager has to take responsibility (for picking Sessegnon),” the ex-Spurs star said.

“That’s where someone like Ben Davies comes in. I can’t remember a 45 minute derby that was as one-sided as this one. Arsenal are like 12 men on the field, a class a game in 45 minutes. Splendid. The midfield dominated this first half.”

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Maureen Mackey

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