Lloris the liability - from World Cup winner to Spurs' weak link

Own goal against Arsenal the latest in a litany of errors by the Tottenham goalkeeper, but lack of options means Antonio Conte is likely to persist with the Frenchman against Manchester City

Hugo Lloris's place in the Tottenham goal has come under threat following a string of high-profile errors. EPA
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How do you solve a problem like Hugo? Tottenham's problems are widespread but none are more alarming or pressing than addressing the issues with their last line of defence.

Despite collecting 23 points from their first 11 matches – their best start to any Premier League campaign – Spurs have amassed only 10 more from their last eight. Tottenham's timidity on the ball has been an issue all season while their concession of first goals has been commonplace. Of their 33 points from 19 matches, 14 have had to be clawed back from losing positions.

And while it would be unfair to single out one player to blame for Tottenham's problems, Hugo Lloris' blunders are too frequent and many to be ignored.

Lloris' latest gaffe came at a huge cost in last Sunday's North London derby. The Frenchman allowed a tame Bukayo Saka effort – admittedly with the aid of a deflection – to bounce off him and into his own net from an angle that should not have caused any goalkeeper problems, let alone a two-time World Cup finalist.

Tottenham v Arsenal ratings

This was no isolated incident. Premier League statistics do not count own goals as errors leading to a goal but the reality is that Lloris' mistakes have cost his side on at least four occasions this season – and that's before taking into account his passing that constantly puts his teammates under unnecessary pressure.

Arsenal have been beneficiaries in both encounters this season. During October's first meeting at the Emirates, Lloris' weak save from Saka's initial effort forced a goalmouth scramble in which Cristian Romero miskicked the ball back to Lloris, though the Frenchman was ultimately at fault as he let the ball roll under his body, allowing Gabriel Jesus to smash home as Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners.

Callum Wilson, right, chips the ball over a stranded Hugo Lloris to give Newcastle the lead against Tottenham on October 23, 2022. PA

A mad dash from goal saw him collide with Callum Wilson before the Newcastle United striker turned and lobbed the stranded Frenchman in a league match later that month, while his attempt to keep out Miguel Almiron's effort left plenty to be desired, too.

Lloris' first match after losing the World Cup final on penalties with France produced another error-strewn display in the New Year's Day meeting with Aston Villa. The Spurs stopper inexplicably spilt a routine Douglas Luiz shot from 35-yards and was then beaten to the rebound by Ollie Watkins who set up Emiliano Buendia to score.

There are plenty of other examples: during the 2017/18 season, he made as many as five during the Premier League season – his worst to date – and that's without factoring in the biggest gaffe in World Cup final history when he was tackled by Mario Mandzukic trying to dribble round the Croatia striker from inside his own six-yard box.

France were 4-1 up at the time, so no real harm done, but on another day, that lapse in concentration could have cost Les Bleus the biggest prize of all.

There is no denying Lloris is capable of the spectacular, and his leadership qualities have helped guide the club through their most successful period in decades. But his propensity to commit avoidable mistakes should make his place in Tottenham's goal vulnerable. The reality is, with only veteran Fraser Forster as a viable alternative, the Spurs captain is likely to keep his place for the Premier League trip to Manchester City on Thursday.

Lloris signed a two-year contract extension in January 2022 but Spurs boss Antonio Conte must surely now be considering replacing the former Lyon keeper if he hopes to sustain Spurs' top-four challenge. Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak as well as David Raya and Jordan Pickford of Brentford and Everton respectively have been linked with January moves.

Arsenal's 2-0 win at their North London neighbours put them eight points clear at the summit and left Spurs five points off the Champions League places. Unless the issue of Lloris the liability is addressed, Spurs' woes are only set to worsen at the Etihad.

Atletico Madrid's Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been linked with a move to Tottenham. EPA
Updated: January 18, 2023, 8:34 AM