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Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur Preview: Spurs still figuring out life under Conte

Early days for the new manager, but every point is vital right now.

Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

The same old story seemed to be unfolding when Leeds United took a 1-0 lead right before halftime last week. Tottenham Hotspur looked less motivated and energetic than the home team, and it seemed like Antonio Conte was on his way to his first loss in charge of his new club. However, a drastically different second 45 minutes saw Spurs snatch both a deserved equalizer and winner.

Hopefully some of that positivity will carry over to the weekend. Clearly the performance did not travel to Slovenia midweek, as a somewhat decent starting XI looked uninspired against Mura in an embarrassing 2-1 defeat. Spurs will need to brush that off and now focus on a Burnley team they already took down at this park just 32 days ago.

That League Cup victory was Nuno Espirito Santo’s last in charge — he was sacked just days later. A mostly drab affair at Turf Moor was won by a Lucas Moura header from an Emerson Royal cross to make it 0-1. Changes at the helm have restored hope in North London since then, but clearly there is still much room for growth on the pitch.

Burnley (18th, 9 pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-6th, 19 pts)

Date: Sunday, November 28
Time: 9:00 am ET, 2:00 pm UK
Location: Turf Moor, Burnley, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)

Last weekend saw two unlikely goal scorers in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon, but perhaps their contribution speaks to how Conte is already making his impact. Both Reguilon and Royal are key to this system, and the wingbacks have been noticeably present in the opponents’ box, not something seen often under Nuno.

Burnley sit near the bottom of the league in goals allowed and xGA, so there could be some opportunities. Harry Kane scored Tottenham’s lone goal against Mura, and the squad really needs the striker to get going. Crystal Palace put in three goals against the Clarets last weekend which is an encouraging sign for the visitors.

The other end of the pitch has not been much better for Burnley. While the club has scored more leagues than Spurs this season, the Tottenham defense held up pretty well in the League Cup tie. The injury to Cristian Romero is a bummer, but the whoever makes up the back three should be able to shut down this pedestrian attack.

Three themes

  1. A few weeks into Conte’s tenure there are some clear preferences he has in personnel. Oliver Skipp is likely to slide back into the starting lineup after his yellow card suspension, and Ben Davies and Lucas Moura have started against both Everton and Leeds. Their inclusion may not draw a ton of cheers, but it looks like this is the new manager’s preference.
  2. The positioning of the wingbacks up the pitch, as well as the action required from the midfielders, are nice changes, but at some point the front line of Kane, Lucas, and Heung-Min Son needs to start producing. With more quickness and incisive passes there should be an increased number of chances, and there is too much talent for Spurs’ scoring woes to continue much longer.
  3. Davidson Sanchez started midweek and was not good. The other two centerbacks were Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga, with the latter replacing Romero in the lineup last weekend as well. Tanganga looks like the choice to start alongside Davies and Eric Dier, but Conte will need to figure out how to handle the workload in this upcoming busy period.