The Spurs-Conte union: What should worry Arsenal fans and what shouldn’t

The Spurs-Conte union: What should worry us and what shouldn’t… by Rafi

It is that time of the year again. On the eve of the 5000th day since they last won a trophy (yes that is a real stat), Tottenham Hotspur have decided that it is worth calling quits on their latest managerial appointment after only 10 Premier League games of having him in-charge. Nuno Espirito Santo would consider this a spell to forget. Despite winning Premier League Manager of the Month in August, he could only inspire his side to collect 15 points in 10 games. Although that may not be the worst way to start off a season on paper, it is important to consider some key context (Conte-xt if you will). Having created less goal scoring chances than every other team in the division bar Norwich, there was no substance to Tottenham’s build-up play and the struggle to pick up points against inferior teams in the league as well as the UEFA Conference League was no coincidence.

Their appointment of Antonio Conte, in my eyes, mirrors the appointment of Jose Mourinho by Spurs 2 years ago. Two world class managers who have a CV of working miracles by establishing systems that, although different tactically, are renowned to be defensively resilient and disciplined while also being quick and efficient in transition. They have proven themselves in the biggest of leagues, including and most importantly in the Premier League. The latter took up the job of replacing the artefacts in the Tottenham trophy cabinet with something worth looking at, but it is safe to say that he failed to do so, while also jeopardising his track record of winning silverware everywhere he’s gone. The former is yet to write his own fate.

It would be delusional of me to conclude that Conte’s time at Spurs would not be any different to Jose’s, and I am indeed not going to do so. In fact, I strongly believe that Conte would make Spurs a very difficult team to beat. Being the unofficial pioneer of the 3-4-3 system in England and having used 3 at the back with 2 strikers in his remarkable Scudetto winning campaign with Inter last season, it would be fair to assume that Conte will be seen transforming Spurs using a somewhat similar approach. 5 defenders means he’s here to stink up the league with park the bus football, right? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is no. Often perceived as a defensive manager, Conte revolves his game plan around well-coached, robotic yet attractive patterns of play, and setting up an extremely high work rate defensive unit. Chelsea’s Charly Musonda will tell you how brutal the sprinting drills are under Conte, having collapsed out of exhaustion in one himself.

It is not just his tactical nous that puts Conte in the ‘Pep-Klopp-Tuchel’ bracket of managers, but also his man management. His ability to make above average players into world class contributors, and give out of form players a renaissance of sorts is remarkable, and will be encouraging for the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane, etc. There are few better examples than Romelu Lukaku and his revival under Conte at Inter Milan. From being labelled ‘overrated’ and a ‘technically poor’ striker at Manchester United, Lukaku under Conte became an unreal physical specimen who could hold-up the ball, beat his man, score consistently, and create chances. His 60 g/a in 72 league games across 2 seasons and being awarded Serie A MVP as well as golden boot earned him a £100 Million back to the same league where he was told he could not make it.

What does this mean for Arsenal? I can only speak for myself when I say that I am not fazed by the recent developments at Tottenham. That does not imply that I do not consider them as added competition for the European spots. I feel that although the two clubs do not have much to separate them in the league table, Arsenal are not in quite the same predicament as Spurs. Arsenal have a unique approach to reach the top of the pyramid that simply does not need to change any time soon. Assembling a young core and establishing a dominant style of play seems to be our way forward and the best of this project is still yet to come. Meanwhile Spurs are trying to have an immediate shot at glory, which to be fair, is very much possible under a serial winner like Conte. But at the same time, no Spurs fan would expect a project to guarantee longevity under Conte, who has never lasted longer than 3 seasons in any of the 9 managerial positions that he has held.

As Arsenal fans, we can only hope that a manager like Conte, who tends to demand unconditional backing in the transfer window to assemble his squad, eventually runs out of time at a club like Tottenham who are often considered to be conservative spenders. He will surely be looking to improve his poor managerial record against Arsenal, having beaten us only once in 8 attempts (3D 4L). Do you think Spurs can (God forbid) finally break their trophy drought? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.



Tags Conte tottenham


  1. Okay, I’m trying to see some new series, anyone who can recommend some good crime/thriller series, please?
    Something similar to Mr. Robot, or Prodigal Son.

    1. “Shetland” on BBC1 is an excellent series Eddie.In fact the beaches and scenes are so impressive that I am seriously considering visiting the Isles. Far more interesting and satisfying than a discussion concerning the appointment of a Manager to another Club .A Manager who needs the comfort of a wig/hair extension to face the World?

      1. Thanks Grandad, I’ll check it out.
        Yeah, I’d rather spend my days watching movies than being engulfed with another team’s appointments for two days

        1. @Eddie
          If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend an American series called “True Detective”. Seasons 1 and 3.

  2. What are the expectations? That is so fundamental to any clubs season? Taking over in Nov/Dec is not a good time. Klopp. Pochetino Arteta and Ole all struggled when they took over Nov/Dec. Arteta and Ole are struggling years later. Pochetino played great football went close but won nothing. Only Klopp won but it took 3 seasons. Tuchel by comparison started in late January and took over a very expensively assembled world class squad who had already qualified CL knock out stage and had been as high as 3rd under Lampard. Tuchel finished 4th in the PL but did win the CL but lost to leicester in the FA Cup final.
    At Spurs what were the expectations for Nuno? Top after three and a win off top 6 after ten. Why sack him now? For Conte it all depends on the expectations. If Top top 6 let alone top 4 is the expectation then he will be sacked in June. If winning the Conference or the Carabao is enough this season and a summer rebuild then maybe he will survive. My impression is Spurs expect a miraculous top 4 run by May. Yes they have 5 easy games right now but long term top 4 is just not going to happen. The Newcastle situaton is the same. What are the expectations? If top 6 is required the manager will be gone in May. If avoiding relegaton and a top 10 finish is the requirement before a summer rebild then the manager has a chance. So everything boils down to the expectations.
    BTW what are the expectations at Arsenal right now? 4th/6th 7th?

  3. We should not be measuring ourselves against a team like the spuds, no matter what who the manager is.
    We have always been compared with manure, chelski, pool and, now city.

    THAT was where the bar was set and we shouldn’t lower it, simply because a top manager has stepped on board a s(t)inking ship.

    Who cares anyway!?
    If MA completes his vision, the spuds will not be a problem.

  4. Conte – is it our club ? ….no, so couldn’t care less.

    Whilst on, can ANYONE offer any other argument that progress is not now being made under Arteta OTHER THAN the crushingly blinkered and short-sighted trotting out of the HISTORIC 2 x 8th finishes ?????

    In 1930/31 & 1932/33 Herbert Chapman won the league for us, we may as well use that as our reference point as to how come were 6th today !

    Action needed taking to stop our slide – we needed shaking out of our sleepwalking lethargy.

    Arteta had the balls to take this on !

    It’s taking longer than some can stomach, but we are getting there.

    Seriously – if you so vehemently disagree, and CONSTANLY snipe, what would YOU have actually done – let’s be constructive eh ???????

    If you are CAPABLE of anywhere near understanding the process the club embarked upon during the seasons in question (THE FIRST SEASON BEING FROM DECEMBER ONLY, LANDING THE F.A. CUP DISPOSING OF MAN’ CITY & CHELSKI, THEN LANDING THE SHIELD BEATING LIVERPOOL) you may get the bigger picture.

    Part Season 1 – ARRIVE and ACCESS the complete and utter mess inherited.

    Season 2 – Take remedial action by way of a CLEAROUT.

    Convince an absent owner that drastic action needs to be taken.

    Part Season 3 –

    Oversee your OWN window activities, and convince existing players who figure in your future plans to sign up to your vision.

    Finally field you OWN side.

    Said side is so far attaining 6th position, 3 points off 3rd.

    Some touted Benitez as our “saviour” – and the point was ??????

    Rafa would have stabilised us at best.

    Guess what , that has now occurred and the signs are we could in fact exceed this.


    Those who have genuine concerns – what are they exactly ?

    The fact that for the LAST 2 YEARS we finished 8th (try changing that NOW) ], or is it that we are not top of the league right now despite gradually closing the gap ???????????????

    And that was the processes remit was it not ?

    1. So anyone who states actual fact that Arteta finished 8th x2 is short sighted and crushingly blinkered (whatever the hell that means )?

      Defensive much AJ

      1. Perspective.

        In terms of how the “process” was obviously laid out (as we can now see) – a resounding YES to your question.

        So when someone stands staunchly by M A, they are of course defensive ?

        When folk state the situation of improvement AS OF NOW on the so boringly multi-repeated monotone 2 x 8th finishes argument – they are not stating fact ?

        Defensive – have you seen the abuse M A has shipped on here ?

        No just stating my opinion as O O G.

        I’m sure you do yourself a great disservice Dan.

        If you don’t know what “short sighted and crushingly blinkered” means, I’m sorry mate you need help.

        I have a strong feeling you could argue your corner very well, without constantly reverting to the simplistic historic league finishes “point”.

        1. AJ
          I know what short sighted means buddy,it was your crushingly blinkered statement which I didn’t get as I said in previous post ,so maybe like you said I need help Or maybe you need help yourself for making up fairy dust words .
          Like I said Before maybe you need to stop being defensive about any posters who you believe do not toe the Arteta line buddy .
          I’ll keep my opinion to myself and not be a brown nose ,maybe you could do the same mate 👍
          Thanks mate .

          1. Cheers Dan.

            Not sure where “ Brown nose” comes into it ?

            Who. am I apparently “ brown nosing” when it’s an opinion i. e. specifically not sucking up to any given individual.

            At the risk of Brown nosing” ???, I apologise if I’ve offended you in any way.

            But upon reading my original post it was put out there in general terms, and you chose to reply ( fair enough, good for debating on here that’s what it’s all about).

            If someone takes the time to reply to a comment, I just think it’s polite (as opposed to “brown nosing”) to respond.

            Perhaps the terminology different folk commonly use in life gets used on here, which some find offensive in written form whilst others find it natural to them.

            So no “fairy dust” words – see that’s a new one to me , but I have no reason to question your voice of the phrase – I don’t use it but get your drift so fair enough.

            Few of us actually know each other, we come together on here through our support of our football team.

            One thing I am not, never have been never will be, is a “ brown nose”.

            If fact – can’t stand them.

  5. Spurs will probably break their recent duck one day and it could be over the next 18 months, particularly as they are involved in the Europa Conference League (although I think Mourinho’s Roma are also in it?) but would it vindicate Levy’s managerial decisions over the last two years if they did?, who knows, who cares, you would have to ask Spurs fans

    Meanwhile Conte’s appointment has nothing to do with what Arteta is doing, I wouldn’t be happy if Spurs won something but “worry”, not really

  6. By the way, good post AJ, I am with you on all that, the only point that I might slightly differ from you on is I think that Josh is different to Stan and that rather than him being convinced by Arteta I believe the Arteta appointment was with this massive change management in vision

    Now it may not ultimately be as successful as some fans would like but it is already successful in that if Arteta went whoever came in would inherit a very good, young squad with many internal problems sorted and therefore a great legacy for the future

    Conte, Mourinho, Ancelloti and Benitez amongst many other big name managers would not have taken that challenge on, arguably Arteta had nothing to lose in doing so, first job in management and all that but for me still pretty gutsy and so far he has done extraordinarily well in my opinion

    Ironically if Arteta did leave for whatever reason a big name manager could swoop in and get all the glory by delivering on what has already been done

    1. Thanks for taking the time F F

      Whatever our stance in any given debate, it’s good to exchange with other Gooners.

      Your reply makes a great read.

      Last paragraph – never thought of the situation in those terms.

      May well happen as personally, I can easily see Mikel moving back to Spain one of these fine days.

      Not yet (too early) but we read Laporta at Barca is an admirer.

      I know they are moving for Xavi next, but M A ticks many boxes for them if he does well at our place. I’m sure they have been keeping one eye on his progress- but let’s hope he’s “done the business” for us before moving on.

      Take care.

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