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Antonio Conte’s future at Tottenham is in doubt following a disappointing Champions League defeat to AC Milan which ended the club’s chances of silverware this season.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Spurs failed to capitalise on a raucous atmosphere in North London on Wednesday, managing only two blocked shots in a listless first-half performance.

As has been the case all season, Conte’s side improved after the break but could not find the goal they needed to take the tie into extra-time.

Here, the PA news agency picks out some key stats behind Tottenham’s habit of starting games slowly.

Wait and see

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Fewer than a third of Tottenham’s 46 Premier League goals this season have been scored in the first half, by far the lowest share of any team in the top flight.

If games ended after 45 minutes, Spurs would be ninth in the league, with eight wins out of 26 and a goal difference of -3 (15 goals scored compared with 18 conceded).

In contrast, their record in the second period – 14 victories and a goal difference of +13 (31 goals for, 18 against) – is bettered by only Arsenal and Manchester City.

Conte’s side have been even more conservative in cup competitions this term.

Apart from netting three times in the opening 36 minutes at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, Spurs failed to score before half-time in 11 of their 12 matches in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Mountain to climb

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Tottenham have consistently fallen behind in games, conceding the first goal in exactly half of their 26 Premier League matches.

They have regularly got out of jail with improved second-half displays, earning 14 points from losing positions – the joint-second most behind Arsenal (15).

Dejan Kulusevski expressed his frustration over Spurs’ slow starts following their most recent comeback – a 2-2 draw at Brentford in the first game back after the World Cup, in which the Bees had taken a 2-0 lead before being pegged back.

“We have to improve. It’s not OK to start games like this,” he said. “If we want to be a big team we have to start playing from the first minute.”

Inviting pressure

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte
Tottenham have been outshot in the first half of Premier League games this season (John Walton/PA)

Tottenham’s underlying numbers suggest that their cautious first-half approach could be a deliberate tactic.

In the Premier League, Conte’s men have combined for 157 shots in the first period, while allowing 178 efforts on their own goal.

Fulham and Brentford are the only other teams in the top half of the league to have been outshot before half-time.

Tottenham's Harry Kane
Harry Kane has scored 11 of his 18 league goals in the second half in 2022-23 (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Spurs look to turn the tables in the second period, with 203 shots for compared with 174 against.

They are one of just four sides – along with Arsenal, Liverpool and City – to have recorded more than 200 goal attempts in the second half.

Tottenham are also one of only three clubs, with Fulham and Southampton, to have faced fewer shots in the second half than the first – when teams are more likely to be chasing a goal.