It will have been an exhausting week for the Tottenham players not on international duty, as Antonio Conte continues to drill the team on the training ground. This weekend, they host Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United in what will be an intriguing tactical battle. No team is fitter than Leeds and they will be hopeful that they can cause a surprise at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. For the home side, they will know that this is a game they need to win if they are to challenge for the top four this season.
Tottenham supporters will be excited at the prospect of Antonio Conte. However, the Italian coach rarely takes over sides in the middle of the season. There are some unknowns about how players will adapt to his style in a short amount of time. Conte will be pleased that his team managed to keep a clean sheet in his first Premier League match in charge. However, the attacking fluidity was lacking. It may take some weeks for the players to settle and find the balance on the pitch.
Leeds United have had a challenging start to the season and find themselves as one of the teams near the bottom of the table. They are in 15th position, just three points clear of the relegation zone. It is too early to worry too much about the bottom three, but Leeds haven’t looked as fluid or dangerous as they did during their first season back at this level. Injuries have played a part with Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford among others missing large portions of the season to date. Little is expected of them this weekend, but Leeds have the energy and quality to beat any team in this league.
Only Norwich City (5) have scored fewer goals in the Premier League than Tottenham (9). Spurs have failed to score in their last three league matches.
In their five Premier League away matches this season, Leeds United have failed to keep a clean sheet.
It has been a difficult start to the season for Harry Kane at club level, with just one Premier League goal to his name. However, he scored seven times in two matches during the international break, becoming England’s top scorer in competitive matches. Although the opposition may not have been the strongest, it will have given Kane a lot of confidence and he will be taking momentum into the weekend. If Spurs create clear cut opportunities for him, he will take them. Leeds United are a very open team, that look to man mark. This means that there is often space for the opposition team to exploit. It would be a surprise if Tottenham don’t create a lot more in attack this weekend and Kane will be the player they want the chances to fall to. During the next few weeks, Spurs play Leeds, Burnley, Brentford and Norwich City. This is an opportunity for them to click into gear under Conte. It is also a chance for Kane to get back to his best in the final third.
The Brazilian international is the player that regularly catches the eye during Leeds’ matches. It is clear that he is the talisman of this team and he will be relishing the chance to star against one of the top six clubs. Raphinha is a player that could go to the very top of the game and his consistency will already be attracting interest from Premier League clubs. This season, he has scored five goals in the Premier League. Surprisingly, he has yet to register an assist. During his first campaign in England, he contributed six goals and nine assists, showing the dual threat that he carries. He is averaging 3.5 shots, 2.2 key passes and 2.8 dribbles per game showing how dangerous he is to opposition teams.
Cristian Romero has been ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up on international duty. Giovani Lo Celso is a doubt for the weekend, while Oliver Skipp is suspended. This will give opportunities to others in the squad.
Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling remain long term absentees, with both stepping up their recoveries. Junior Firpo and Jamie Shackleton are both available.
This is going to be another opportunity to see an Antonio Conte-led Tottenham side. There have been some pleasing signs during his first two matches in charge, but they are a long way from the finished product. Despite a slow start, Leeds United know how they want to play under Bielsa. They definitely have the quality to get a positive result this weekend, but their defensive structure is always a concern against the top six. Home advantage and attacking quality should mean that Spurs pick up three points.
Tottenham 2-1 Leeds United