Tottenham have won only one of their last 35 visits to Chelsea, but their rejuvenation under former Blues boss Antonio Conte shows Wednesday’s trip could be different.
The 13-year-old trophy-less itch – could it finally end for Spurs? Live of Air sports On Wednesday night, Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge, a ground where they have a miserable record – just one win in their last 35 visits.
But if anyone can change that, Antonio Conte can. The Italian led Chelsea to Premier League and FA Cup titles in his two seasons there, and he has a winning record of 72% at Stamford Bridge (38 wins in 53 games).
The spurs go the distance
Conte was named Tottenham manager on November 3, and since then only Manchester City of Pep Guardiola – who have won all 11 games – have improved Spurs’ points per game total by 2.3. Their transformation from the Tottenham squad has been truly remarkable given how devoid of creativity and energy they are in the season opener under the guidance of former head coach Nuno Espirito Santo.
The biggest difference is in the distance Spurs players walk, run and run per game. After covering the lowest average distance in the league under Nuno (100 km), they are now recording the most (114 km). Spurs have covered more than the Premier League average of 102km in just two matches under Nuno, and their best record under him was 103km. Moreover, the 94.5 km covered in their game against Crystal Palace in September is the lowest of any Premier League team this season.
In Conte’s first game in charge, Spurs drove 10km longer than Nuno’s league average, and in his second, they added another 7km (117km in total). Having covered the shortest distance in a Premier League game this season, they covered the most in their game against Norwich, a staggering distance of 121.6km.
The variation of 14 km in the average distance traveled under the different managers is a collective effort of all the actors – they are all move at least 1 km more. Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez and Oliver Skipp made the biggest improvements. Their distances traveled increased by 1.9 km, 1.7 km and 1.5 km respectively every 90 minutes.
The average positions of Spurs players under the two managers paint an interesting picture. Under Nuno, Heung-Min Son (LW) and Harry Kane (FW) played in very similar positions and therefore gave their teammates few other options. Width was only provided by the two full-backs, and the rest of their game seemed extremely tight. Under Conte, there is a much wider gap between the positions of Son (LAM) and Kane (FW) – resulting in a more evenly distributed formation.
The change in form allowed Spurs to create more chances, but also in different ways. They don’t just depend on their front men. Per game, wingers Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal collectively had five more touches in the opposing box, placed three more crosses and created 1.5 more chances.
An avant-garde approach …
A change of manager has increased the performance of the two leaders of Spurs, Kane and Son. What immediately emerges from Kane’s heat map under the various managers is that he gets more hits in and around the area under Conte, and this is confirmed by the improvement in his stats from attack by 90.
He more than doubled his shots from inside the box (2.7 under Conte v 1.2 under Nuno) and tripled his xG (0.6 under Conte v 0.2 under Nuno). This has seen Kane quadruple his Premier League goalscoring tally from one to four since the Italian took charge, with three in eight games under Conte.
Son’s offensive output has also increased and he has scored four goals and two more assists since the Italian took over. The biggest difference in Son’s play can be seen in his number of forward passes. Under Nuno, most of his passes were back to his own goal. Under Conte, the majority is played forward or sideways, attempting to extend the game to the right wing.
Defensive strength has always been a cornerstone of Conte’s sides – his Chelsea side racked up 43 clean sheets in 106 games – so the big question at Tottenham was whether he would be able to turn their fortunes into attacking.
At first glance, they seem to pass the test. Tonight’s game against fierce London rivals Spurs Chelsea, coupled with the difficulty of winning their first trophy in 13 years, will surely be a tougher examination of their credentials.