Nuno Espirito Santo cut a relieved figure after seeing Tottenham end their losing streak by beating Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, the Portuguese coach thrilled with the team’s character.
Spurs went into the match having lost three on the bounce in the top flight and another defeat would have seen them hit a 17-year low.
Unsurprisingly, Nuno’s future has been called into question lately as a result of their struggles, with Spurs’ performances largely underwhelming even when they have won.
Prior to the weekend, Spurs’ 56 shots in the Premier League was the lowest of all clubs, yet they managed 17 against Villa, the most Tottenham have attempted in a single game this term.
Nuno will be able to rest a little easier over the international break because of this win and he was much more satisfied with the performance in general, particularly their reaction to being pegged back by Ollie Watkins’ equaliser.
Asked if he was happy with Spurs’ mentality, Nuno told reporters: “Definitely, yes. It’s something we’ve improved from previous games. The reaction was really, really good.
“Definitely a better reaction. Much better. Previously we became a little bit flat and today was immediately reacting.
“After that moment we continued to create chances and I honestly believe there were more goals there for us today.
“But the production and the way we produced, the way we created was much, much better.”
Son Heung-min was the key man for Spurs, the South Korea international setting up Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s opener before then playing the decisive pass for Matt Targett’s own goal shortly after Watkins had levelled.
His assist for Spurs’ first goal took Son on to 11 goal involvements in his last 12 home league matches, but Nuno was reluctant to shower any individual with much praise.
“All the players are very important, all the players,” he continued. “Not only Sonny did a good game, overall the team did very well.
“Sonny, the way he took the team forward and the way he imbalanced them in one-on-one situations was very important, but all the team, there were a lot of good individual performances and when this happens the team plays better, it is natural, so I am pleased.”
11 – Son Heung-min has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last 12 Premier League games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (6 goals, 5 assists). Constant. pic.twitter.com/JApVOhdZVG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 3, 2021
Emerson Royal was another Spurs player to catch the eye, the Brazilian right-back working tirelessly on the flank as he won 66.7 per cent of his 15 duels – a total bettered only by Harry Kane (25) among the Tottenham team – and making a match-high four interceptions.
But again, Nuno was keen to not go overboard with any praise, adding: “I think we have to be very patient with all the players. I honestly think he has to improve.
“He had a good game. He was stable, especially in the way that he controlled the width. He was really good going forward. I think he had moments when he should have decided better when he was in the box, but not only Emerson.”
Nuno also confirmed his South American internationals will join up with their national teams as normal next week despite potential quarantine restrictions upon their return in England, though he expects minimal disruption to training due to the club’s onside accommodation.
“I can update, they will go and they will return and they will return on different situations,” Nuno said. “They will have to isolate, but we are fortunate enough to have the Lodge [Tottenham’s training base] and work normally with the team.”
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