Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte is not often known to ring the changes, but he made five adjustments to the starting line-up today for the visit of Fulham, including a full debut for Clement Lenglet.
Spurs were looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance against London rivals West Ham United in midweek. As a result, Conte made wholesale changes to his starting XI for the fixture against the Cottagers.
Previously this season, Conte’s team selection has been fairly consistent, with just one or two changes at a time. However, against Fulham, the Italian opted to make five changes.
Cristian Romero and Rodrigo Bentancur both returned to the starting line-up after injury, while Ryan Sessegnon replaced Ivan Perisic at left wing-back.
Conte also handed full debuts to Richarlison and Clement Lenglet, who replaced Dejan Kulusevski and Ben Davies respectively.
Every player brought into the starting line-up today was impressive, with both Sessegnon and Richarlison providing assists. The latter also had a goal disallowed which would have made it 3-1 late in the game.
Despite the success of his team selection, Antonio Conte explained in his post-match press conference (via Football.London) that in his mind, there were only two “real changes” to the usual starting XI.
He said: “The real changes compared to last season were only two because Bentancur is a player who usually starts every game in starting XI. It was the same for Cuti Romero and Sessegnon. Sessegnon played the whole season in the starting XI.
“The real changes were two, Richy and Lenglet. I think they showed they are really good players who can improve us a lot to become stronger and to become also the squad more deep and give me the possibility to make rotation without a drop in quality.
“I think Lenglet showed to be a really good player with personality, with quality. When you sign a player from Barcelona for sure he arrives with a big background and for me it’s easier to explain the football to him.”
Spurs Web Opinion
While consistency in team selections can be beneficial, it’s clear that Spurs needed to try something different against Fulham today and the players Conte sent out there duly delivered. It’s a real testament to the strength in depth the squad now possesses that the boss can make five changes and see a performance like that.
Richarlison was phenomenal in attack and caused Fulham all kinds of problems. Lenglet was solid at the back and added a level of composure in possession that was lacking against West Ham. It will be fascinating now to see who Conte picks for the next game, and if the likes of Richarlison and Lenglet can keep their place.
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