Will Tottenham’s midweek wake-up call be answered with three points against winless Leicester?
After a 2-0 loss on Tuesday in Lisbon, Tottenham will be looking to make amends against Brendan Rodger’s struggling Leicester side. Spurs remain unbeaten in the league and are third in table, whilst the Foxes are rock bottom with only one point from six games.
Despite not reaching their maximum potential in previous league games, Antonio Conte’s side consistently managed to grind out a point or take all three. The almost inevitable loss came when an admirable Sporting put on a show for their fans and were deserving of the victory come the final whistle.
The issue Conte will have with the performance in Portugal is that a draw was within reach. The former Inter boss responded to the result by calling the players in for training just hours after their Lisbon loss, reassuring us of his distaste for defeat.
Captain Hugo Lloris did his bit in attempting to keep the score level, however, his teammates failed to match his excellence. There are certainly solutions for Conte as Spurs head into the weekend.
In the last few games, the Italian manager has stuck with the same group of thirteen or so players, rotating very rarely. With summer acquisitions Djed Spence and Yves Bissouma warming the bench, along with Matt Doherty and Oliver Skipp, rotation would give the team a fresh look.
Conte knows the players better than anyone, however, there is no hiding from the slow starts and nervy endings to the last few matches. A minimum of two changes to the starting line-up this weekend would be many fans’ expectation.
With Dejan Kulusevski frequently making an impact off the bench, as well as being our best player on the opening day, his place in the team should be reinstated. He can operate as a right winger or a wing-back, which could free up space for another central midfielder if Conte opts for tactical changes.
Matt Doherty was in immense form before being injured by Matty Cash last season. His full recovery and return to the team is surely imminent with Emerson Royal having started every game since mid-April.
When asked about the Brazilian, Conte commented, “He could have scored three goals in the last game. He has improved a lot since last season.
“Don't forget Emerson played every game in this period, for sure now he can be a bit tired.”
There may also be an opportunity for Djed Spence to make an appearance in the near future with games coming thick and fast. Supporters got a glimpse of his pace against Nottingham Forest and his attacking prowess is something we have lacked on that right hand side.
Oliver Skipp and summer signing Yves Bissouma have struggled to make an early impression on Antonio Conte this season, with only one start between them. The Mali international was dubbed ‘the signing of the summer’ by many, however, it’s Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur who feature regularly for the team from North London.
Conte recently noted that it was a lack of tactical knowledge keeping Bissouma from breaking into the starting eleven. The Spurs manager said, “The midfielder for sure, to go into our idea of football is maybe the most difficult position, but we are talking about a player that has great skill, good running.
“We only have two midfielders and then they have to be good with the ball and without the ball, but I'm really happy with his signing.”
The expectation of rotation this weekend comes following the growing frustration around the club’s fanbase, regarding performances over a 90 minute period. Tottenham teams of yesteryear would play attractive football and aim to entertain an audience, in a way former Spur, Marcus Edwards, did in the Champions League midweek.
Edwards was the star for Sporting CP, continuing to showcase his talent on Europe’s biggest stage as he dreams of a Premier League return. He has a £52million release clause with fifty percent going to the North London club if he is sold, thanks to Daniel Levy’s smart negotiations.
This being said, Conte is not struggling to get results with his players considering the side are respectively placed third in the table.
Spurs’ potential is undoubtedly greater than what we are seeing at the moment. Will this Saturday prove a glimpse into what a fully functioning Conte team at its very best looks like?