In-form Tottenham face top-four rivals Leicester on Wednesday before a blockbuster clash with Chelsea on Sunday – but what has changed under new boss Antonio Conte?
Tottenham will be looking forward to getting back to Premier League action at Leicester on Wednesday night, having not played a league game since New Year’s Day.
Since Conte’s team won 1-0 at Watford – thanks to a 96th-minute goal from Davinson Sanchez – Spurs have suffered a disappointing 3-0 aggregate defeat against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final and recorded a late FA Cup win against League One Morecambe.
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But it is in the Premier League where Tottenham have been most impressive, with Conte becoming the first manager in the club’s history to remain unbeaten in his first eight league games in charge.
Spurs had lost five of their previous seven league games before the Italian’s arrival, so what has brought about such a striking change in form?
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The most obvious place to start is up front: Tottenham have scored in each of Conte’s last seven Premier League games – having begun his tenure with a 0-0 draw at Everton.
Over his eight leagues games, Spurs have scored at least two goals in five of those. Prior to his arrival, Tottenham had scored more than once in just two of their first 10 games.
Additionally, Spurs have scored 14 league goals under Conte, averaging 1.8 goals per game – twice the ratio registered in the 10 games before his appointment this term.
Kane finds his groove
Much of Tottenham’s attacking play depends on the form of talisman Harry Kane and the 28-year-old seems more of his usual self in front of goal under Conte.
Kane is Spurs’ joint-top scorer in all competitions under the Italian with five goals, alongside Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son. Three of those have come in the Premier League and all in the last four games. Prior to Conte’s appointment, Kane had scored just one goal in nine league appearances.
This upturn in goalscoring is unsurprising, given the England captain is now having more shots and touches in the opposition box. His shooting and conversion rates have almost doubled since November.
Furthermore, as the shot maps below show, many of Kane’s shots under Conte have been struck closer to goal and from more central areas than previously this season.
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As Tottenham’s attacking threat has improved under the new manager, so has their work defensively.
Spurs have conceded just four league goals in eight games under Conte – only Wolves have conceded fewer over the same number of fixtures.
In fact, only the top three clubs have faced fewer shots per game since Conte’s first game in charge – and only the top two have faced fewer shots on target per game.
Much of that defensive improvement could be down to Tottenham covering more distance. Spurs have covered more ground in every Premier League game under Conte than they did in any other game this season and are averaging 14km more per game than before his arrival.
Tottenham have outrun their opponents in all eight of their league games since November and the 121.1km they covered against Norwich was the furthest by any team in the division this season.
Tottenham’s improvement under Conte, both offensively and defensively, has led to an impressive tally of 18 points from his eight games in charge – only runaway leaders Manchester City have won more points over the same number of fixtures (24).
With four games in hand over fourth-placed West Ham, Conte will be hoping their recent form could lead to a successful charge to a top-four finish this season.
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