The latest Team News …
From the last game all the players will be available for this game. No extra players will be available.
Zanka has something behind the knee linked to the hamstring. He will be assessed weekly; he will not be available for Tottenham. Kris Ajer is doing well and is working hard on the pitch. He will most likely be about three to four weeks still. Tariqe Fosu was very unlucky to have a hamstring injury in training which needed surgery. That will take a while.
Sunday’s three points …
It was a massive win. I stand by that you build confidence from training well every single day, putting performances in the matches, and, on top of that, results. I also understand the psychology of having not won a game so needing to get over the line, winning the game, and building from there. What I like is that we train well, we perform well, and now we also got the result which I think we deserved. It was an even game; we were the better side in the first-half, second-half we weren’t able to put three passes together. Everton pressed us but we defended like beasts with great structure and aggression.
If you don’t believe in your own abilities as a club, team, manager, or player then it’s difficult to achieve anything. We need to keep going, keep improving, and keep pushing.
Alvaro Fernandez’ first league clean sheet …
We all need that defining performance where you believe you belong here and can perform. There was definitely a bit of extra spring in Alvaro’s step today walking into the training ground. He was very good in training. We have been practicing the kicking so hopefully that’s going to a higher level on Thursday.
Our Premier League gameplan …
Before the season we said that the defensive area was a big area that we needed to be bang on. I haven’t seen one team perform well in the Premier League without a top defensive side to their game. We started so well this season from that perspective. For whatever reason we didn’t manage to keep that high level but this time we put the effort in, showed mentality, and had the structure and tactical discipline throughout the game to give us a well-deserved win.
First-half against Everton we tried to build from behind, be composed, and dominate on the ball which was fairly good in spells. Second-half we threw the ball away too quickly and didn’t have enough composure; those are the spells I would like us to play more and keep the ball better. That is something we are constantly working on. This season so far it has been going a little up and down; we’ve had some fantastic games like the first-half against Wolves and the first-half against West Ham and the first-half against Leicester. We were extremely good on the ball, doing what we want. To be consistent in that area takes time.
We defend a bit more in the Premier League so we need to understand it is OK to only defend, like we did second-half against Everton. I would like us to be better there but it’s a learning process and we are getting better every day.
It is no secret what we like to do on the pitch. We like to play our own style of play as much as possible but when you play teams who are better on paper it is difficult to be as much on top as we want to be. If we want to create a good result in the Premier League, it is very important to be defensively good. We need to be very good on set pieces and very fit. We are ticking those three boxes. A part of that is also a top mentality and that top mentality comes from the core of the team because they need to lead it. I am privileged to have some strong characters in the team.
Thursday’s opposite number …
Antonio Conte is one of the best managers in the world. One thing is his results with the different teams he has been in charge of but for me there are two main things; they are always very structured and defensively solid, they are not playing defensively but they know exactly what they do, and then they show a top mentality. I like to see that the team is always reflective of the personality of the manager; he has a very strong mentality. They have that structure and defensive side of the game, and they will learn his mentality. Hopefully they are not there yet, and we can maybe do something against them on Thursday.
I like the way that Conte is on the touchline. I’ve only met him once before when we faced them in the FA Cup. He was top class after the game. What happens during the 90 minutes and extra-time is one thing but also what happens before and after is another.
Tottenham Hotspur …
I like teams with structure because it’s easier for me to analyse and find solutions against them. They are very good at what they do but any structure and style of play has weaknesses; it is about us trying to explore that. One thing is the system and style of play, the other thing is the quality of players. I love my players; I trust and believe in them massively, but we will face world class players again on Thursday.
We’ve shown the last couple of years when we’ve played Premier League clubs in the cups that we can put in a performance to make it fairly even. The first 13 games have given us a confidence that we will have a chance, we can discuss how big that is, against any team in the Premier League. We fancy that we have a chance on Thursday. We will definitely go there, try to be brave and do the bits we believe in. That is how we approach every single game. Compared to the game in January it is a different manager and different system so, in terms of what we do to try and get on top of the game they will be different areas.
The wing-backs at both ends of the pitch will be key battles, no doubt about that. Both teams will try to tweak it a bit to create local superiority so three vs twos, and four vs threes. That will be a big part of the game.
No doubt if they get things going it will be a difficult place to go to but if it’s not working and we are defending well, aggressive, and going forward then that could make it very quiet. We hope we can make it not as noisy as possible.
The December fixture list …
We know that is going to be intense. The intensity of the game is higher in the Premier League and the number of sprints is higher in the Premier League. Those are two bits we have been working very hard on the training ground; leading up to this spell of games we have been adding more sprints in training so we are best prepared to hit those sprints in games. We are as prepared as we can be; we can’t wait to get into this intense period.
Tickets for this fixture are sold out. Tickets for Sunday's away game against Leeds United are still available at the Box Office only until Thursday 2 December (subject to availability).