Everton played a good defensive game against Manchester City last weekend and, if not for a few unlucky calls - or non-calls - a point or even three might have been gotten by Frank Lampard and company. As it stands, no points were earned in that match, and Tottenham are next on the Premier League schedule.
While the Premier League has been difficult for the Blues this season, the team remains in the FA Cup and will be trying to build confidence coming off of the mid-week victory against Boreham Wood. Tottenham, however, will be a much different test for the Toffees than was the Wood, but a good showing could do wonders for the confidence and trajectory of this outfit.
RBM: First off, with the up and down form of Tottenham over the previous matches in the Premier League and FA Cup, what is the feeling like around the club and around their supporters?
It depends on the day of the week, really. After the City match, everyone was buzzing and it looked like things were truly clicking. Then Spurs lose to Burnley and the world is falling apart. We get the uptick with the Leeds win, then Middlesbrough brings us into the basement. One thing is for certain: It’s never boring at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Right now there’s a mixture of hope and dread because the club can still push for Champions League football but the dread of basically existing in purgatory is extremely difficult to shake.
RBM: How has this team changed over the short reign of Antonio Conte? What are the expectations for this side at this point in the season?
Conte came in and got his system in place. It took a couple of weeks (some players longer) to understand the patterns and movements he wants, but this team is definitely better than under Nuno Espirito Santos. The expectations are to finish in a European spot and hope everyone else falters to crack the Top 4 to get back to the Champions League. Europa League at minimum, given the turmoil of the season, would be a disappointment but at least it’s not Conference League.
RBM: I asked it earlier in the season as well, so please forgive me if it’s redundant, but has Antonio Conte done enough with this Tottenham side for Harry Kane to stay in north London in the long term?
To be determined, and the summer will be a telling tale. We know full well that Antonio Conte is a winner who wants to be shown the club has the same desire and aspirations. The problem is that Spurs don’t have a blank checkbook to buy anyone they want. Deals have to be done in a certain manner (See: Bentancur and Kulusevski) in order to make sure the books stay balanced. We know that Spurs, going into January, were a staggering £400m above Financial Fair Play but that didn’t mean the club had that to spend. COVID really screwed up the growth plan that the club had, and there was no way to plan for that.
The sentiment is largely if Conte sticks around, so will Kane. If not, Kane is gone. I think Kane might be gone regardless because he’ll be 29 this summer and if he feels he can’t win trophies at Spurs, this is the summer he can truly force a move. Levy held the power last summer. It’s a different story this time around.
RBM: How have this team’s transfers fit into Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side?
So far, extremely good. Rodrigo Bentancur has provided fantastic depth in the midfield and showed he’s up to the task. He had a bit of an injury from the Burnley match but he’s back and available for selection against Everton. He’ll be a sight for sore eyes after watching the revolving door that is Harry Winks in midfield.
Dejan Kulusevski had a slow start in his first match, but ever since his performance against City, he’s been excellent. He looks to be a perfect fit in the attacking band with Kane and Son, and the hope is that it only gets better especially with Lucas Moura out due to injury.
RBM: Which of Spurs players do you think could cause Everton the most problems, and how do you expect Tottenham to set up on Monday?
The obvious answer is Heung-Min Son. He’s been up and down for a bit, but even he admitted that there was a bit of exhaustion and that he should be more than ready for Monday’s match. That extra day does matter, especially if Conte recognized he just needed a bit more rest.
As for the lineup, I think we’ll see this:
(3-4-3): Lloris; Davies, Dier, Romero; Sessegnon, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Doherty; Son, Kane, Kulusevski
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Monday’s match?
If we’re following the yo-yo system, Spurs come out and smash Everton. I have no idea anymore, and that theory makes as much sense as any other one.
Spurs win 3-1.
Our thanks to Sean for his time.