Chelsea – Tottenham: Be careful, the Spurs advance masked …
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The numbers are already pointing in that direction. Last season, the Spurs posted the third record in the Premier League since the appointment of Antonio Conte as coach with 56 points taken between the 11th and 38th day. Only Manchester City (73 points) and Liverpool (70 points) had done better than the London club over the same period. That says it all for Tottenham’s underdog status, further bolstered by that inaugural success against the Saints. But also of the still significant gap that he still has to fill to compete with the team of Josep Guardiola and that of Jürgen Klopp.
The base was already solid
City and Liverpool are already well placed to know that Tottenham should not be taken lightly. Spurs had achieved the feat of remaining undefeated against the two Premier League ogres last season, whether with Nuno Espirito Santo (1-0 victory against City) or Antonio Conte (draw 2-2 and 1-1 against Liverpool, 2-3 win at City). If they had lost to Chelsea (2-0), Conte’s men had mainly been penalized by their points lost against less upscale clubs, Southampton (1-1, 2-3), Burnley (1-0) , Brighton (0-1), Brentford (0-0) and even Wolverhampton (0-2).
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In the space of a few months, Conte had already managed to shape a difficult team to play last season. « The structure Conte brought has proven very useful for Tottenhamexplains Pete Sharland, our colleague from eurosport.co.uk. Conte has built a solid defensive sector that gives the offensive elements the freedom to do what they think is the best option. This is something often overlooked when talking about Conte’s teams. But like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa under his guidance at Chelsea, Heung-min Son and Harry Kane are thriving and Tottenham’s opponents are struggling to find a way to stop the forwards. »
Recruitment makes sense
The Italian technician had already laid a coherent collective foundation last season. A trend confirmed by the Spurs transfer window, with the arrivals of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perisic in particular, but also those of Fraser Forster, Clément Lenglet or Djed Spence to densify the London group. « I think they are doing a good transfer windowbelieves Pete Sharland. The rookie picks make sense, especially when compared to the structure of Conte’s system. And above all, they were able to keep Kane and Son. They both look happy and keen to stay at Tottenham. »
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A workforce reinforced by a subtle blend of youth and experience that can allow Tottenham to aim even higher. But it still has some limitations. « If we accept that Bissouma will be as good as he was at Brighton, the biggest problem is still the pistons, and perhaps the third central defenderbelieves Pete Sharland. Ivan Perisic looks like a very good signing and Cristian Romero remains one of the best centrals in the Premier League, but I don’t think Ben Davis and Eric Dier will be good enough for them to play for the title over the whole of the season. However, they will be useful in achieving their current goals. »
The ultimate challenger
Appetite may come with eating. In the meantime, Tottenham advances masked, more in the shoes of a candidate for the Champions League than in that of a real contender for the title. « In England, it’s difficult to fight to win the titleunderlined Conte before the resumption. But we want to be competitive and improve on last season. To be a strong team, you need stability and vision. It must be clear. And then you have to go step by step to reduce the gap. To catch up with City and Liverpool, like them, you would have to spend €100m on one or two players, not on six, like us. »
Structurally, the Spurs have progressed, but they certainly still lack a bit of collective experience and some leading individuals to really compete with City and Liverpool in the title race. « I expect them to finish third or fourth, and pass the group stage of the Champions Leagueannounces Pete Sharland. I don’t think they’re good enough yet to finish ahead of City and Liverpool in a full season, realistically. However, on a game they are a very dangerous team so I expect them to do well in the cupsThe challenger par excellence. This is perhaps the status that best suits Conte’s team. Because it only makes them more dangerous.
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