While Tottenham might have been smelling the chance to open 2023 with a flurry on Sunday afternoon, Spurs were eventually hit with a worrying 2-0 loss at home against Aston Villa.
Missing out on the chance to break back into the Champions League spots, Antonio Conte’s side were met by a chorus of boos at the final whistle after a second-half double from Emi Buendia and Douglas Luiz.
Still appearing to struggle in their bid to find some stability, Spurs largely failed to lay much of a blow on a Villa squad who are riding quite the wave of momentum on either side of the World cup break.
Now claiming three Premier League victories from their last four appearances, Unai Emery’s new side have also skyrocketed themselves away from any potential relegation scrap.
Pilling more pressure onto Conte’s shoulders and handing Tottenham’s top-four dreams a real blow, we have taken a look at the main talking points.
Could Conte be on his way out of north London?
Although many around north London might have been excited by Conte’s arrival 14 months ago, it appears that there is some growing friction between the dugout and the stands.
While the one-time Chelsea boss might have guided Spurs to a top-four return last season, Sunday’s hosts have really failed to find any stability this time around.
With Conte’s pragmatic approach not going down well with large sections of the Tottenham fanbase, they have now managed to muster just a pair of Premier League victories from their last seven attempts.
With that run stemming all the way back to October 15th, Conte should have a real headache over his side’s extended defensive issues this season.
Shipping a pair of strikes here and caused a string of problems by Villa on Sunday afternoon, Spurs have now failed to record a single clean sheet in any of their last seven appearances.
Slipping out of the top-four and watching the likes of Manchester United and Newcastle enjoying their own recent purple patches, Conte’s side could be facing an uphill battle in 2023.
Villa open 2023 with a statement
While it might be Tottenham’s toothless display that steals most of the headlines here, Aston Villa deserve a host of praise for what has been an eye-catching rise under Emery.
With the ex-Arsenal boss taking over from Steven Gerrard back in October, Sunday’s guests have continued to skyrocket up the table and it looks like the mood around Villa Park is at a real high.
Although Emery’s new side might have marked their return from the World cup break with a 3-1 loss at home against Liverpool earlier in the week, they certainly came roaring back here.
Putting in what was a gritty display and keeping the likes of Harry Kane quiet throughout, Villa have now taken nine points from just their last four Premier League appearances.
Pushing themselves away from a bottom-three scrap and laying down what was a real second-half marker in north London, Villa should now have their sights set on mounting a genuine top-half charge in 2023.
Now collecting victories against both Manchester United and Spurs on either side of the break, Emery deserves plenty of praise for his immediate impact.
Could Martinez be on his way out of Villa Park?
While Emi Martinez might have made his Aston Villa return on Sunday afternoon after helping Argentina claim a third world crown in Qatar this winter, the ex-Arsenal keeper had to settle for a spot on the bench here.
Although the 30-year-old might have also been handed the World Cup’s Golden Glove award in the Middle East, he has found himself at the heart of an ongoing controversy.
Coming under some scrutiny for his post-World Cup antics and publically taunting Kylian Mbappe on Argentina’s homecoming last month, it has been suggested that Martinez could be on his way out of Villa Park over the coming weeks.
With deputy keeper Robin Olsen putting in a professional display here, reports over the past week have hinted that Emery is far from impressed by Martinez’s behaviour.
Although the Argentina hero might have gained a string of plaudits thanks to his Qatar heroics, The Daily Mail are reporting that Emery is already lining up a potential new number one in January.
Tottenham: Lloris, Romero, Lenglet, Davies, Doherty, Bissouma, Hojbjerg, Perisic, Gil, Kane, Son
Subs: Sessegnon, Spence, Royal, Skipp, Sarr
Aston Villa: Olsen, Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Buendia, Luiz, Kamara, McGinn, Watkins, Bailey
Subs: Coutinho, Bednarek, Chambers, Ings, Cash
Goals: Buendia (50′), Luiz (73′)
Yellow Cards: Tottenham: Romero, Lenglet, Davies, Bissouma – Aston Villa: Konsa, Mings, Chambers
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Chris Kavanagh