Tottenham have sharply improved in form since Antonio Conte took over last month, but how will the Italian approach his toughest test yet when they host Liverpool in front of the Sky cameras this weekend?
Three wins and a draw in four league games under Conte saw Spurs rise from turbulent waters to seventh in the league table into the weekend, with three games in hand above all but one – potentially an additional nine points, which, as Hey, it would leave Tottenham just three points behind third-placed Chelsea.
This scenario came against the backdrop of a new wave of Covid-19 cases, with the London club postponing a match with Burnley due to snow, and the match with Brighton called off due to the Covid outbreak at the club and the 11th hour cancellation in Leicester on Thursday.
In addition, the fate of Tottenham’s advance into the opening edition of the European Conference League remains uncertain after the club was forced to cancel their match with Rennes due to the virus – a match they needed to play and win to ensure qualification to the next round. .
speaks exclusively to Sky Sports, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte explains how the current crisis has shaken the club, the importance of his back team, his source of passion, why he made Spurs run again and how Liverpool are the model for success…
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Sunday December 19 4:00 pm
Stability in tough times
“Honestly, at the moment, it’s not easy,” Conte says. “We have three games to play, we don’t know when, we don’t know if other games will be postponed in the future. With the Covid problem, it’s very hard for us to think about what’s going on.
“We were working very well for two weeks and then the Covid problems started. Now, we played the last match two weeks ago. We had three days on the training ground and we didn’t have a training session.
“And then many players affected by Covid, and for this reason, we had several training sessions with only 11 or 12 players. It is not easy: you need the whole team. [in order] for work “.
Despite the current complications, when asked about his first impressions of the team, he nodded approvingly. “The players have worked, to try to improve – to follow our tactical idea. I found this at Tottenham and I think that is very important.”
The back team was also formed, which includes Christian Stellini, Costantino Corati, Gian Piero Ventroni, Stefano Bruno, and brother Gianluca Conte – an assistant and analyst with a coaching resume spanning 15 years – working exclusively alongside his younger brother at Bari, Siena, Juventus, the Italy national team and Chelsea. Inter Milan.
“I have an important relationship with my brother. Certainly, we have many meetings to discuss the analysis about the team we are going to play, and sometimes he gives me important advice during the match, between the first and second half. He has an important role in my staff.”
fire and ice
In the usual way, Conte looks cool and collected when answering questions – but where does his passion for animation come from on the sidelines? “I like to play with my players,” he says. “I live in a high intensity fashion.
“When you start playing against your opponent, I want my players to know that I’m with them on the field and also try to help them if they don’t find a good solution.”
This energy reflects his style of play, with his teams frequently covering above-average distances. In fact, Conte lifted Chelsea from 17th to 7th on this scale during his first season and third in his second term.
However, Tottenham were running less than any other team in the Premier League when Conte was appointed. In fact, the team ran significantly less than the opponents in six games out of 10 prior to Conte’s arrival.
Since his appointment, Spurs have scored more distances than the opponents in all four matches, culminating in last season’s 121km run against Norwich – a far cry from the 95km against Crystal Palace in September.
“I think if you want to have a good team, the ambition to work in many aspects [is necessary] And not only the tactical aspects, but the physical ones as well. [In the Premier League]You must be in good physical condition.
“We want to increase intensity and intensity during training. For this reason, it is very important for the team to be [work with staff on this]. “
The Italian has become almost synonymous with the three-man back system, which the title holder successfully used during his first tenure at Chelsea. But, of course, there is much more to his preferred gameplay than the choice of system.
“My career started with four players at the back, 4-2-4 in Serie B, in Italy,” adds Conte. “When I started my career with Juventus and Chelsea I started playing 4-2-4 or 4-2-3-1, but then it depends on the characteristics of the players.
“When I arrived at Tottenham I thought it was very important to find a solution and play with three in defence [because] Player characteristics. I think the most important thing for the team is to find a balance between attack and defense.”
Expectations: Cup? The top four?
Conte entered the dazzling Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with a chain of command to chairman Daniel Levy, whose reputation as a shrewd and tough businessman grew, with a vision for the team on and off the field.
So what is the measure of Levi’s and the club’s success – going 14 years without any major title? “Honestly, we didn’t talk about this [target]Conte says.
We have just started our work. We need patience.
“I wanted to come to Tottenham because I found their characteristics to be what I love to work with: a great training ground and a stadium. Me and the people, I know very well that at this moment we have just started our work. We need patience.
“When you start working, you have to work in many aspects, and there are psychological aspects as well.”
Liverpool’s model of success
Questions remain over the future of Harry Kane – who has scored just one league goal from 13 games this season after his move to Manchester City collapsed in the summer – and Conte is likely to make his mark on the team as the transfer window sways. In two weeks.
Indeed, Conte points to the visitors from Liverpool as a model of success since the club appointed Jurgen Klopp in 2015.
“On Sunday we play against a team that can teach us a lot, because I think Jurgen Klopp, when he arrived at Liverpool, started a great job. But the first season they didn’t. [achieve] So much but the work has begun.
“If you want to reach this level, you need work, time, patience and investment [on transfers]. “
How did Liverpool stop?
The figure’s evidence bodes well for Spurs, but 10 points out of a potential 12 under Conte came against an opponent in the lower half. So, Liverpool certainly pose the greatest test yet for the 52-year-old?
If you want to reach this level, you need work, time, patience and investment.
“Yes, Liverpool have many solutions during the match. It will not be easy but we have to work as a team. We are preparing for the match.
“We know very well that we are facing one of the best teams in the world, but at the same time, I think it is good to have this kind of match, because we want to understand [how to face] This is the big difference.”
Watching the Tottenham and Liverpool match live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4.15 pm on Sunday; Match kicks off 4:30 p.m