“It’s very important that we go to this big club – with a massive stadium and a full house – and don’t be afraid: we have to try to do our style and be brave on and off the ball. Off the ball we need to press high, and on the ball we need to play forward. Spurs will come out flying, attacking, there’s no doubt about that. We’re facing a club with big ambitions and they want to be in the top four at least so I guess the pressure is a little bit on them.”
The Spurs manager says he expects to see his players implement what they have been doing in training: “I think we are improving and have been working together for weeks so now is the right moment to see the improvement on the pitch.”
Conte makes two alterations to the lineup that started their last league match, the 2-1 victory over Leeds. Sanchez and Skipp come in – after, um, impressing last week agaisnt NS Mura? – in place of Tanganga and Winks. Meanwhile, Brentford are unchanged from the win over Everton.
Spurs: Lloris; Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Skipp, Reguilon; Lucas, Kane, Son
Subs: Gollini, Doherty, Tanganga, Sessegnon, Winks, Ndombele, Bryan, Bergwijn
Brentford: Fernandez; Pinnock, Jansson, Goode; Henry, NOrgaard, Janelt, Onyeka, Canos; Mbeuma, Toney
Subs: Cox, Jensen. Forss, Wissa, Ghoddos, Baptiste, Roerslev, Maghoma, Stevens
Referee: J Moss
Hello and welcome. Spurs and Brentford have not met each other in the league since December 1949, back when both were in the second tier (though Spurs won promotion at the end of that season, their first under a visionary new manager, Arthur Rowe). Now both clubs ensconced in the middle of the Premier League. Yes, this is ninth place versus eleventh place with practically nothing – just little ol’ Manchester United – between the two clubs. Praise be Brentford, shame on Spurs.
Thomas Frank’s side have enriched the Premier League by showing a lot of the qualities that Spurs have often lacked this season, such as cohesiveness, dynamism and sharpness. Sustaining that with their modest resources will be a neat trick. Spurs’, meanwhile, have been a puzzle that Nuno Espirito Santo failed to solve and Antonio Conte now has to get his head around: they’re produced one excellent half in four matches under the Italian and their best result so far may have been the snow-enforced postponement of last Sunday’s game at Burnley. That gave the Italian more time to tutor his new charges, or just to study them and try to figure out how to get them to perform well consistently. Reviving Harry Kane is one of the challenges faced by Conte. Maybe Spurs’ dwindling striker will be inspired by the sight of Ivan Toney, who could make a good case for being included in the next England squad instead of Kane? It’s on!