Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-2 win over Manchester City at the Etihad today was certainly the most exciting match of the season, and dare I say it one of Spurs’ best and most exciting Premier League performances in the past decade. Antonio Conte certainly seemed to think so. Ahead of Saturday’s match, Conte made a point of saying that to beat City Spurs would need to play a nearly perfect match.
“For sure was a great win for us against a fantastic team like Manchester City. Compliments to Manchester City because also tonight they showed to be the best team, in my opinion, in the world for their organization, for the players they have, for Pep [Guardiola].
“To win a game like this means we had a perfect performance. We were very good defensively. Before the game, during the press conference, I said we prepared for the game very well, we had a plan. For sure, when you play against Manchester City, you know the ball possession will be 70 % for them.
“But I always say to my players, also in the moments we’re defending, in our minds has to be the target to win the ball and to attack. Then when we had possession of the ball we moved the ball very well. The first goal was outstanding for me. Because we prepared for this type of situation. This type of win has to give us confidence to trust in the work we’re doing. But we know very well there are many, many games in front of us. We have to fight a lot to stay very close for the first positions.”
Conte praised his players after the match, speaking to Sky Sports in the Etihad tunnel. In that initial interview, he talked about how this win is validation for the hard work that Spurs have been putting in since his arrival, and even went as far as to say that this Tottenham squad is one of the best he’s ever worked with.
“This is a fantastic team, a wonderful team. It was a good win to give us confidence, it wasn’t simple to play against Manchester City after three losses in a row. But this is a process. We are working very hard to try to improve every aspect. This type of game will give us confidence to trust in the work we are doing and continue to do our best.
“One win is not enough. Don’t forget we’re coming after three losses. But for sure the win against Manchester City can give you confidence and to trust in what you’re doing. We can improve a lot.
“The players are fantastic. Honestly, for me this group is one of the best group of players I’ve worked with in my career. We have a lot of space for improvement, especially because we have many, many young players to improve and to get experience. Also in this game against City we have a lot of work to do, but we are not scared of work.”
It’s a hugely important win, not just because it means Spurs are one of only two teams to beat City this season (and they’ve now beaten them twice), but because of what it means for the team’s confidence going forward. After three straight disappointing losses, this win means Spurs have a very real chance of pushing on and gaining some momentum in the league. Spurs’ next three matches are away at last-place Burnley and 15th place Leeds before hosting Everton in early March. There’s every chance that Spurs can head to Old Trafford to play a six-pointer against Manchester City on March 12 unbeaten in their last four.
Maybe that won’t happen. It’s safe to say that Tottenham have been anything but consistent this season, even under Conte. But what this win does is send a signal to the rest of the league that Spurs have the ability to beat anyone on their day. Antonio Conte intends to keep putting in the hard work to see that it happens.