Tottenham Hotspur suffered a second Premier League defeat in the space of just a few days as Antonio Conte was left to rue another defensive disasterclass led by skipper Hugo Lloris after they were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle United on Sunday evening.
The long-serving veteran was at fault for Callum Wilson’s lobbed opener and arguably the second as well.
The Magpies forward collided with the 35-year-old but managed to fire home an excellent chip before a poor clearance from the Spurs goalkeeper fell to Sean Longstaff, only for Miguel Almiron to weave his way past two defenders to slot in a winner.
He wasn’t the only Lilywhites star to struggle, however, as in the absence of some of the team’s injured on-pitch leaders such as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cristian Romero, centre-back Eric Dier looked off it once again.
As did Emerson Royal, whose recall to the starting XI was quite a contentious decision, given just how well Matt Doherty had performed in two of the three games he was suspended for.
When the Brazil international was sent off for a nonsensical tackle during the north London derby, he was rightfully lambasted by talkSPORT pundit and ex-Spurs player Jamie O’Hara, who was one of the more vocal critics.
“Royal is just a complete liability,” he claimed.
“Every single week we play him, he makes mistakes. I don’t care how much money he’s spent on trying to make himself a better footballer, he’s not good enough to play for Tottenham. It’s like having [Serge] Aurier back in the team. He’s just a mistake waiting to happen.”
On his arguably surprise return to the side, we saw the same old from the 23-year-old wing-back. It’s a crucial role in Conte’s system, not only is he expected to get back and defend – where, as above, he’s been a calamity at times – but he’s also needing to get forward to provide creativity for the two strikers, Harry Kane and Heung-min Son.
Emerson failed to provide a single accurate cross from four attempts and lost possession a whopping 16 times from his 81 touches – only Dier (20) lost the ball more times and that’s largely because he was the man trying to spray those dangerous long balls (19 attempts) into the final third, as per Sofascore.
Further back, the £26m flop registered only one tackle, which was five fewer than Rodrigo Bentancur and two fewer than fellow wing-back Ryan Sessegnon, who was hooked on the hour mark.
The £40k-per-week lightweight also picked up a yellow card for his nightmare display, whilst the FootballJOE Twitter account offered a tongue-in-cheek comment on the matter. “Genuinely can’t fathom how bad Djed Spence must be in training if he can’t get a game ahead of Emerson and Doherty.”
Indeed, the mind boggles on that front as Emerson was evidently the true villain of Conte’s dismal woes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.
“Emerson Royal just isn’t good enough at all, he’s not Premier League quality whatsoever,” journalist Josh Bunting added. “Maybe the worst player to play for Tottenham in my lifetime.”
He’s not wrong and the sooner the Italian head coach realises that, the better it’ll be for Spurs, the team and the fanbase.