This Thursday, Tottenham may face the toughest test Premier League football has to offer to travel to the Etihad to face Manchester City.
Both sides had rather unenjoyable weekends, tasting defeat to their respective local rivals in what may prove to be essential derbies come the end of the season.
Welcoming Arsenal in the North London Derby, Tottenham barely got started in the game, finding ourselves 2-0 down at halftime, and whilst there was a marked improvement in the second half, we were well beaten in the end.
From Conte’s perspective, the only real positives from Sunday were the return of Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison bolstering the side moving forward. Still, it was a largely disappointing game that won’t be looked back on fondly.
For visitors Man City, it was a different story with the same outcome. Despite taking the lead, two late goals from Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford sealed the points for rivals Manchester United at an energetic Old Trafford.
Moreover, with Arsenal winning and Man City losing, the Gunners now sit eight points clear at the top of the table, rubbing yet more salt into Tottenham’s wounds and likely leaving City desperate to make amends in their upcoming games.
But Spurs fans should take refuge in the fact that we boast a surprisingly strong recent record against the Citizens, regularly being a thorn in the side of manager Pep Guardiola.
Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Spurs have faced City seven times, delivering wins on four occasions, including an unprecedented double last season that saw Harry Kane produce a performance for the ages at the Etihad.
However, this time around, the presence of Erling Haaland will pose an unfamiliar challenge to Spurs. In truth, one the Norwegian is likely looking forward to fronting as he may smell blood in a shaky Tottenham defence.
With his pace, power, and finishing ability, Haaland has a skillset like few others. However, Cristian Romero will undoubtedly be keen to leave his mark on the forward and become one of the few centrebacks in the league to defend him successfully.
The return of Rodrigo Bentancur will also be a welcomed sight in the Spurs midfield, as although Pape Matar Sarr has performed admirably in his absence, the Uruguayan’s composure and experience will be helpful at the Etihad.
There’s no question the situation is tense for Tottenham and Conte at the moment, and in truth, there could hardly be a worse time to travel to Man City.
However, although it’s unlikely, Conte has shown the ability to beat England’s elite sides in the past. With Richarlison, Bentancur, and Kulusevski available for selection, he has a near full-strength squad to pick from.
Moreover, despite Son having an incredibly poor season, for relatively unexplainable reasons, the Korean always seems to perform against Man City, so this could be a game where he can rediscover his form and even kickstart his season.
Ultimately, Thursday is bound to be a challenging game for Tottenham, but hopefully, we can continue our strong record against the Sky Blues and return to N17 with at least a point, if not three.