The trio of Eric Dier, Cristian Romero, and Ben Davies were abysmal, and a repeat performance would result in another defeat, as Conte sees the Magpies as fierce competition for a top-four finish, as he stated during his pre-game press conference.
“We have a difficult game against a team that is in good form.” Newcastle drew with Manchester United, then beat Everton. They’ve made a strong start and now want to be a title contender in the Premier League. “They will, without a doubt, be a danger to everyone in the present [and] future,” the 53-year-old said.
Given this, it will be interesting to see what changes the Italian head coach makes. Clement Lenglet, on loan from FC Barcelona, appears to be a viable replacement for Davies, as he is the more natural centre-back and a far better prospect on the ball.
Despite being praised by the Lilywhites manager as a “reliable” option, the Wales international trails the Frenchman in passing accuracy, according to WhoScored, while FBref highlight additional defensive attributes in which the 27-year-old also leads the way – including successful tackles, successful pressures, blocks, and interceptions per 90.
Newcastle United travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium having won three of their last four games, scoring nine goals in two of them. For context, Conte’s men have scored seven goals in their last six matches across all competitions, indicating that Eddie Howe’s side poses a threat in the final third.
Indeed, according to WhoScored, the northeast giants are fourth in total shots per game (15.3), ahead of Spurs (13.9), and have scored the fourth-most goals from open play (12), also ahead of Spurs (nine), in the Premier League this season.
As a result, Davies may be devoured by Callum Wilson’s goal-scoring exploits or Chris Wood’s intimidating physical presence.
That is why a more solid switch at center-back is required this afternoon, and for Conte, it must be an easy, albeit brutal, decision to replace his £80k-per-week regular – who Bundesliga statistician Ben Griffis once dubbed a “beast of a player” – with Lenglet, who is simply a better fit for the system, this game, and the position today.
It might be the game-changing spark Spurs need to get back on track in N17.
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