Arsenal provoked Antonio Conte’s Chelsea by winning the Premier League title, now the Italian must once again make Tottenham “a great power in English football”
For some, Antonio Conte and Tottenham will be seen as a mismatch.
Conte is a proven winner, winning trophies in three of his last four managerial positions. Spurs last tasted glory in 2008.
But now, it seems that the Italian is named successor to Nuno Espirito Santo.
It is perhaps the biggest challenge of the 52-year-old managerial career, as Spurs find themselves in disarray on the pitch.
He was once an enemy of the North London club after beating them to the Premier League title at Chelsea in 2016/17 and also defeating them in the FA Cup semi-finals in the same campaign.
Nonetheless, Spurs are a club for which Conte seems to have always had a lot of respect.
He said in April 2017: âI think Tottenham should stop being seen as an outsider because Tottenham is now a big power in English football.
“I think it’s a good time to finish talking about them and consider it [Mauricio Pochettino] an outsider and find his excuse.
Conte will have a long list of things to do if he accepts the job, including getting Harry Kane back in shape. But after that, it will be a question of moving up the Premier League rankings.
To rub salt in Spurs’ injuries, sentiment at North London rivals Arsenal is positive, with Mikel Arteta’s men undefeated in their last nine matches.
But Conte has been provoked by Arsenal in the past, as a 3-0 loss at the Emirates Stadium was identified as a key moment in his side’s Chelsea victory in the league.
Chelsea started the season with the four more traditional defenders of the starting XI, but a home loss to Liverpool and a chaotic performance against the Gunners which saw them concede three goals in the first half prompted a move to a third.
It worked wonders, triggering a 13-game winning streak in the league, taking them to the top of the Premier League.
“The first time was during the Arsenal game,” said Conte, who had used training at Juventus and with Italy, in February 2017.
“Never [with these players in pre-season]. To tell you the truth, in my mind there was always that option.
âI knew I had the players for this system, but we had never tried this solution in our training. I have always played four behind, then 4-2-4, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 …
âIt’s not that simple to say that a change in formation has brought us to the top. It took work. We know all the work that we have done in the past, and we are now doing it with the team to try to improve this system.
“But I only decided to do it ten minutes after the start of the second half at Arsenal. I’m glad I did because now we are leading the league and, at the time, we were eight points behind Manchester City, it just shows that things can change very quickly.
The winning race actually ended with Spurs, but the Blues were already on their way to becoming champions as they won the Premier League trophy at a gallop.
And perhaps that is why Conte could go along with the idea that he can once again make Spurs “a powerhouse in English football”.