SAMI MOKBEL: Hugo Lloris gaffes in north London derby will speed up Tottenham’s search for new No 1
“Oh, now you want to talk,” Hugo Lloris murmured softly as he turned down interview requests after England’s heartbreaking defeat by France at the World Cup.
His reply was noticeably terse, almost bitter.
It has since emerged that Lloris took offense at the claims made ahead of the quarter-finals that he was a weak link for France.
Hugo Lloris was at fault for Arsenal’s first goal as he turned the ball into his own net
He would have enjoyed this moment; Who doesn’t like to have the last laugh?
Five weeks later he faces similar allegations at Tottenham.
Life comes at you fast; Unfortunately for Lloris, the joke was on him here on Sunday with Arsenal giggling at his expense.
Lloris’ predicament was not improved by the fact that opposite number Aaron Ramsdale reinforced his reputation as one of the best rising goalkeepers in European football with another bulletproof display.
Spurs keeper Lloris fumbled a Bukayo Saka cross into his own net after 14 minutes
On the odd occasion of Tottenham managing to break through Arsenal, they faced Ramsdale in one of those moods where he wouldn’t let a mother with a double buggy pass.
For so long there hasn’t been a realistic challenger to Jordan Pickford’s role as England No 1, but don’t be surprised if Ramsdale overtakes the Everton keeper for England at Euro 2024.
Ironically, Pickford is one of the names being considered by Tottenham to replace Lloris – a transfer that would bring sharper focus to the battle for Gareth Southgate’s first choice.
But that’s all for the future. For Tottenham, Lloris’ form is a problem in the here and now.
The keeper was lucky Arsenal didn’t take an early lead after his dawdling on the ball saw him make up for his own mistake of refusing Eddie Nketiah a specific goal.
Saka’s cross was deflected by Sessegnon but the French keeper had to do much better
His next error in the 14th minute gave Arsenal the lead. Okay, Bukayo Saka’s attempt was hit hard and distracted Ryan Sessegnon, but Lloris somehow managed to get himself into an almighty mess – falling back to deflect a cross-cumshot into his own net.
Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium fell into deaf silence for a second. Even the Arsenal supporters double-tapped before going into a frenzy.
This was a mistake of epic proportions; in a game with gigantic consequences.
Lloris shook his head as he stood up, but there was no one else to blame.
It’s a problem that has become increasingly common at Tottenham in recent months.
Is Lloris the weakest link in this Tottenham team? Probably not – but that’s nothing special.
This is a side of Spurs that needs drastic repairs; they have greater flaws than Lloris.
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard drilled in a second from outside the box in the 36th minute
But his error catalog is growing. Mistakes against Aston Villa and Newcastle resulted in goals and defeats, while another flawed performance in the first North London derby of the season saw Arsenal win 3-1 at home at the Emirates.
Parts of the match-going fanbase have had enough. His manager Antonio Conte also seems to be at the end of his rope.
The Spurs boss struggled to support Lloris after his latest stray and insisted the 36-year-old remains “one of the best goalkeepers in the world”.
But the machinations behind the scenes suggest otherwise.
There was hope that Lloris – who retired from international football last week – could see his current contract, which expires at the end of next season, as the club’s No1 before he rides into the sunset at the age of 38.
But the process of ending Lloris’ decades-long tenure as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper is accelerating.
Tottenham recruitment staff are identifying Lloris’ replacement to secure a deal ahead of next season.
Lloris had another day to forget as Tottenham were beaten 2-0 in the north London derby
Spurs want a keeper who is comfortable with possession and able to make quick decisions with the ball at his feet; a trait Lloris has noticeably struggled with.
Pickford has all the attributes Tottenham are looking for; Indeed, if Everton were to be relegated, that deal should be relatively easy to complete – although it’s difficult to question when Daniel Levy is involved.
Brentford’s David Raya and Brighton’s Robert Sanchez, both excelling in possession, are also options.
It’s hard to blame Lloris; He has saved Tottenham time and time again with his brilliance.
During a barren era, at least in terms of trophies, Lloris’ excellence has been a constant – but all good things come to an end. The time seems to be drawing near for Lloris.