Tottenham under Nuno were underwhelming and inconsistent. Their five league victories were narrow and won by one-goal margins. While they were decent in some games, Tottenham’s poor form on the pitch eventually caught up with them. The defeat against Manchester United was the last straw for Spurs hierarchy, and they decided to pull the plug off of the Nuno Era four months after it began and put Antonio Conte at the helm.
Conte’s first game in charge for Spurs was a tough 3-2 win over Vitesse in the Europa Conference League. While they were impressive during the start of the game, they slowly began to fade out and struggled to keep hold of their lead. Nonetheless, they won 3-2. Reports from the Spurs’ training ground suggest that Conte had already increased the level of training intensity several times after the game against Vitesse. Conte’s first game in charge in the Premier League for Tottenham proved to be a tough test. Everton were relentless during the game, but in the end, Tottenham did manage to hold on and take one point at Goodison Park.
Let’s dive into some stats from recent games and benchmarking to gauge whether Spurs can challenge for the top-four spot in the Premier League.
In the game against Everton, Spurs lined up in a back three 3-4-2-1 formation. Conte has been famous for using a back three 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation during his managerial career. Spurs’ passing through the midfield has been an issue for them this season, and Conte would need to decide whether to bring in a more creative option at the centre or stick with both Skipp and Hojberg. Ndombele could be the creative option at the centre, while Hojberg would act as the holding midfielder. Spurs’ defense is also in need of a solid framework.
Overall, both teams were almost equal in terms of the majority of the stats. Everton had a higher xG than Tottenham, while also taking marginally more shots. Spurs did not have a shot on target in this match. They were poor in their forward passes and final balls. One of Conte’s first orders of business other than providing defensive solidity would be to get the best out of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, two of the Premier League’s best forwards. Both Moura and Kane were below-par in the game against Everton. Both teams were even in possession at the final whistle.
Spurs are placed near the bottom at the 18th spot in terms of expected goals, indicating that they have failed to create quality goal-scoring opportunities this season. So far, they have scored just nine goals. Only Norwich, who are at the bottom of the table, have scored fewer goals than Spurs. Their average xG is similarly poor as well. Conte would also need to find a way to get the best out of Spurs’ creative players if they are to create quality goal-scoring opportunities.
In terms of successful progressive passes and average successful progressive passes per match, Spurs are placed at the 18th spot in the league. Their problems with forward and progressive passes were evident in the game against Everton as well.
Antonio Conte would need to fix multiple issues if Spurs are to mount a serious challenge for the top-four spot. Bringing a solid defensive framework combined with getting the best out of their attacking and creative talent would be a start upon which they can build on.