KAMPALA: Antonio Conte is to get a true measure of how far his Tottenham Hotspur side have progressed in the ten months since his appointment when the North Londoners lock horns with Manchester City on Saturday evening in the pick of Premier League matches this weekend. This is the case for two reasons.
First off, for all the strides made under the Italian’s tutelage, Spurs remain a counterattacking unit that suffers when confronted with opponents as polished in possession based football as Pep Guardiola’s City. Earlier this season, Spurs escaped from Stamford Bridge with a late leveller after being played off the park in a manner not dissimilar to City’s modus operandi.
On Wednesday night, Igor Tudor’s Olympique Marseille were on their way to an upset Champions League result thanks to a near identical approach until Chancel Mbemba’s red card titled the game back in Spurs’ favour.
Secondly, they have not yet confronted a striker as potent as Erling Braut Haaland. Evidence the addition of Richarlison to an attack featuring the most effective strike partnership in Premier League history – Harry Kane and Son Heuing Min – will deliver results, was apparent when the Brazilian netted two late headers to help subdue a spirited Olympique Marseille 2-0.
Haaland is an altogether difference kettle of fish due to the sheer volume of goal scoring chances Etihad Stadium midfielders create. So while the Norwegian is guaranteed a steady supply of passes from the likes of creative genuises Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden, the same cannot be said of Spurs’ front three that has tended to be starved of service by astute defensive midfielders.
Premier League action commences with new Chelsea boss Graham Potter pitting his wits against Fulham’s Marco Silva in a West London derby. Potter has replaced Champions League winning manager Thomas Tuchel on the basis of the attractive brand of football played by former side Brighton Hove. The Cottagers have an early opportunity to test Chelsea’s new look back four that eventually cost Tuchel his job by leaking a goal a game.
Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Bruno Lage will relish the opportunity to inflict further misery on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the aftermath of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners’ surprise 1-4 Champions League reverse at Napoli whereas Arsenal will be hoping to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Manchester United when they host Everton on Sunday.
Fulham v Chelsea,
Bournemouth v Brighton Hove,
Leicester City v Aston Villa,
Liverpool v Wolves,
Southampton v Brentford,
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur,
Arsenal v Everton,
West Ham United v Newcastle United,
Crystal Palace v Manchester United,
Leeds United v Nottingham Forest