Opinion: Three changes Tottenham must make ahead of Leicester match

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Wednesday’s Champions League defeat to Sporting Lisbon was nothing short of disastrous. Tottenham came out second-best against an opponent that should have seen Conte’s side take three points, with the performance being one to forget. 

Not to suggest that Conte doesn’t know what he’s doing as a manager, as he certainly does, but from a fan’s perspective, there are obvious adjustments to be made. Ahead of facing Leicester City, Conte must take action, so here are three things that should change before Saturday’s Premier League clash.

Earlier Substitutions

Conte has complained extensively about the need for more substitutions as well as spending many a press conference lobbying for squad reinforcements. Both of his wishes came true this summer, yet the Italian is still to fully capitalise on either.

Of the seven new signings – six of whom are in the squad, Conte has only used Ivan Perisic and Richarlison regularly. Yves Bissouma and Clement Lenglet have both appeared sparsely, and Djed Spence and Fraser Forster have just one substitute appearance between them. 

Whilst it wasn’t expected all six new faces would break into the team, fans likely expected to see more than what we have thus far, especially given the introduction of five substitutions in the Premier League.

Moreover, with an attacking quartet of Kane, Son, Kulusevski, and Richarlison, Conte always has a high-quality forward to bring off the bench, so when our attack is stale, like it has at times this season, it’s hard not to question the Italian’s reluctance to make earlier substitutions.

Take Sporting Lisbon as an example, Spurs created little in the first half and continued in a similar vein after the break, yet Conte waited until after the 70th minute to introduce Kulusevski as the first substitute.

Hopefully, Conte learns from this mistake and is hastier in making changes in the future, as having a pair of fresh legs and a new challenge for the opposition to deal with in the latter third of the game can be a real difference maker.

Son out, Kulusevski in

As last season’s Golden Boot winner, it’s painful for Spurs fans to have seen Son start the season so poorly.

The Korean is yet to score in 2022/23 and has assisted just once on the opening day of the league, although it should be noted he has been unlucky, hitting the woodwork several times in the subsequent games.

But after a string of poor performances and no attacking returns, even Son’s tether must now be wearing thin, especially with Richarlison and Kuluseveski quite literally waiting in the wings.

Since joining Spurs, Richarlison has been excellent; quickly making himself undroppable with Kulusevski being the makeweight.

However rightly so, the Swede may feel hard done by, as since his own arrival in January he has hardly put a foot wrong being one of the league’s best players. 

Nevertheless, with Richarlison’s form and Kane and Son’s goodwill with Conte, Kulusevski was always going to be the one to make way, however, in his recent substitute appearances, particularly against Marseille, he reminded the Spurs faithful of why he so quickly became a fan-favourite at N17.

With Son still underperforming, now seems like the right time for Conte to test a frontline of Kane, Kulusevski, and Richarlison as objectively speaking, these are our three best-performing forwards at present.

Whether Conte has the guile to drop Son is another question as he’s no doubt a popular figure at Tottenham, but a strong argument could be made to bench the Korean for our upcoming game.

A new face at Right Wingback

Once again, Emerson Royal put in a strikingly uninspired performance as Tottenham suffered defeat in Portugal.

At the start of the window, an upgrade at RWB was an obvious target, and even perhaps our biggest necessity. Tottenham moved for Djed Spence, and although Conte has made it clear the Englishman wasn’t his first choice, Spence must now be wondering when, if ever, he will get his chance.

Emerson has been largely sub-par this season, and in a system such as Conte’s that is so heavily reliant on wingbacks is frankly a liability to the side. 

Yes, he is usually a robust defender, but his attacking threat and crossing ability are non-existent, and being paired alongside model wingback Ivan Perisic on the opposite flank further highlights his flaws.

Surely now must be the time for Conte to finally drop Royal to the bench, as a game against a struggling Leicester side this weekend looks ideal to trial Spence.

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