Antonio Conte has admitted that Tottenham Hotspur have a point to prove in their season opener against Southampton on Saturday after the Saints took five points off the Lilywhites last season.
Conte and his coaching staff have been working the Spurs squad hard during pre-season and the Italian will be hoping that the work pays off when his side takes to the field against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men on Saturday.
Barring the final game against Roma, Tottenham’s performances during pre-season have been positive, with the team creating plenty of chances going forward.
When asked if he has been satisfied with the pre-season, the Spurs head coach told Sky Italia: “The pre-season went well, it was tiring, we had to make two long and demanding trips between Korea and Israel. But we worked hard, both from a tactical and a physical point of view.
“There were new players to add like Perisic who came from a major injury, or like Bissouma who got Covid and arrived a week later due to the Nationals.
“There were minor setbacks, but at the same time I’m happy to be able to continue working on an idea of ‘last year, without having to start all over again, as happened in November: it was very hard there, you have to bring your idea from scratch.”
Although Tottenham improved considerably after Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Santo at the helm in November of last year, Southampton got plenty of joy against the Italian’s set-up.
Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s in December despite the home side being down to ten men while Hasenhuttl’s men pulled off a dramatic 3-2 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in February.
When asked about the difficulties that the Saints could pose, Conte said: “Last year Southampton took away 5 points from us in the standings. One against them we drew and one lost at home. So our first goal is to score more points against them, to add points to our 72 for the year.
“Southampton is a tough team, difficult to face, we know it well given the results of last season. But we want to do well. We have a team that has seven months of work behind us and we have improved the squad with players of quality, even in terms of numbers, to face our four competitions.”
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It did seem like Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 matched up well against Conte’s 3-4-3 in both matches last season. So, it will be interesting to see if the Italian makes any tactical tweaks to the side on Saturday to ensure the same problems do not occur again.
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