Tottenham’s record start under Antonio Conte precedes rest tests

It speaks perhaps to the level set and demanded by Antonio Conte that Tottenham have had the best start to a Premier League season without fully breaking out of the blocks.

The coming days could provide the spark to really kick-start their season, but Spurs could still set records. A fairly routine 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday was Tottenham’s 10th consecutive home win under Conte and gave Spurs 23 points from their first 10 games that season, their best start to a league campaign since 1963.

As Harry Kane wins and then converts a second-half penalty to give Tottenham the lead, Spurs are doing their job and the striker’s record of now scoring for the first time in five Premier League games in a row goes too slightly under the radar.

In addition to Tottenham sitting at the top of their Champions League group in four games, there’s certainly ample evidence that Conte is doing pretty much everything right at Spurs at the moment. A win over Sporting Lisbon next Wednesday would secure their place in the last 16 while strengthening the ‘fortress’ Conte was desperate to build for Spurs fans in north London.

“It must be difficult for us to play in our stadium,” was Conte’s message after Tottenham drew level with Manchester City in the pursuit of Arsenal. The Italian spoke of the visiting team, of course, drawing parallels with the experience of meeting both Sporting and Eintracht Frankfurth away in Europe this season, but there are times when his words could apply to Spurs as well.

Tottenham’s winning streak at home can be illustrated by a solid green block, but in reality there were many stages throughout the run when they struggled to assert their authority and should have fallen behind. Everton were always second best on Saturday but Frank Lampard’s approach was designed to limit Spurs. “We restricted them,” was Lampard’s assessment

Everton were also two chances from the lead and had either Demarai Gray or Amadou Onana capitalized on their chances on the counterattack Tottenham would have been faced with an awkward second half. “We were very competitive in the game, the way we played and another day when we take our chances I think it’s different,” said Lampard.

However, there was never the same sense of danger for Spurs in the second half. Conte’s side started well and increased their intensity in the phase of the game that led to Kane’s penalty. After three games and three wins this week, Spurs have struck in moments with the tenacity and mentality of the title challengers Conte is trying to create. Conte was delighted with his side’s performance and energy levels, but a lack of rotation means he’s also playing a dangerous game.

Conte is relying on a key group of players to see Tottenham through

(Getty Images)

Conte is relying on his generals to get through Tottenham’s relentless schedule but the crisis is set to come now as Richarlison’s injury adds to fitness concerns over Dejan Kulusevski. Spurs won three times last week with six fielders – Eric Dier, Cristian Romero, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Rodrigo Bentancur, Son Heung-min and Kane – starting every game and it’s certainly not sustainable at this level and ahead of the World Cup where everyone is will play a key role.

At the moment it’s those players who are pulling Spurs through, as evidenced by Bentancur and Hojbjerg, who both advanced from midfield in the 86th minute against Everton and combined to seal the win. They had been sacked with the addition of Yves Bissouma, who will now start against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday if Kulusevski is unable to return.

Bissouma and a switch to 3-5-2 brought a balance that had been lacking prior to Richarlison’s injury. Conte’s decision to change the system by adding a third midfielder instead of replacing the Brazilian with a third forward changed the game and until then Spurs seemed blunt and a little predictable.

Their left flank had been the source of the greatest danger with Ivan Perisic and Son but it was another game where the South Korean’s scoring threat was limited. There are now eight encounters that Son and Perisic have started together in which last season’s golden boot winner failed to score.

That’s why Tottenham travel to Old Trafford and, despite their winning streak, still have problems to solve. No less than 10 straight home wins is a respectable record and another sign of progress under Conte. Spurs have gone about their business by beating the teams they were supposed to be beating.

It was on the way, in their defeat at Arsenal, salvaging a draw at Chelsea and being held by West Ham where they were unable to deliver the statement win that would add excitement to their record start. Contes Spurs should finish above Manchester United again this season but prove Old Trafford is the test. It comes as injuries make the battle a little more difficult for a Spurs side whose determination to continue will be tested in the days to come. Tottenham’s record start under Antonio Conte precedes rest tests

Fry Electronics Team

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