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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Tottenham Hotspur's Emma de Duve on Spurs' Champions League hopes

22 April 2022

Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League table, at the time of speaking, comfortably in the top six and just a handful of points behind third-placed Chelsea. What have you made of what you have seen over the past few months?

It has been a rollercoaster few months for Spurs, who started the year with an unintentional win one and lose the next pattern. Inconsistent performances matched these inconsistent results and Tottenham needed to get out of this rut. It looked like they had come out of the other side, with the players looking like they were enjoying playing again and it being exciting for fans to go and watch. The performance and result against Brighton put an abrupt end to this and showed the work that still needs to be done. However, Antonio Conte will be hoping his side can bounce back and get back to their best for the game on Saturday.

There was a little bit of a wobble throughout January, February and into March, with a series of league defeats and exits from both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup. However, would you agree that, for the most part, Antonio Conte’s time at the club so far has been promising?

Definitely. With his track record, Conte was always going to get a warm welcome from everyone in and around the club. However, the changes he has been able to implement in such a short space of time have been pleasantly surprising. Not only has he helped members of the squad he walked into step up, he has brought in two new players who have made an immediate positive impact, despite the inconsistency.

The obvious target now is to hold off Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United and finish in the top four for the first time since 2018/19. Do you think they have what it takes to do so?

All Tottenham fans know not to get too carried away, no matter how well the team is doing, which was shown with the result against Brighton. On paper, Spurs seem to have the more favourable fixtures, most of which they will be expected to win. No game in the Premier League is easy, though, and results can go either way. With Arsenal losing to Southampton, it allowed Tottenham to remain in the fourth spot. Aside from the weekend, Spurs have shown cohesion and quality in other recent games and if they can find that for the final stretch of the season, I definitely think they have what it takes to secure a spot in the top four.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Saturday?

The cliché answer would be to say Harry Kane or Son Heung-min, who have both been in solid form in a number of recent matches. However, I think the new arrivals, Dejan Kulusevski (centre above) and Rodrigo Bentancur, have already shown the impact they can have and the former is making goal contributions most games. At the other end of the pitch, Cristian Romero has also been solid in his first season at Spurs and his aggression will be something Brentford will have to keep a close eye on, too.

How is Conte likely to set up his side in west London?

The last few games have seen Conte keep with much of the same starting XI. The injury to Matt Doherty is a big blow for Spurs, with the Irishman’s form majorly improving in recent games. Therefore he will be forced to make a change on the right flank. With Ryan Sessegnon returning from injury, there is now a battle at left wing-back between the 21-year-old and Sergio Reguilon. Much like a number of players in the Tottenham side, Reguilon's performance wasn't as solid as expected against Brighton and so Conte may look to give Sessegnon a chance to impress and help build up his match fitness once again.

Tottenham ran out 2-0 winners in the previous meeting last year, with Son following up a Sergi Canos own goal. What’s your score prediction for this one?

Despite some of the recent good results and the reaction Spurs need after the Brighton defeat, I don’t think the game will be an easy one. Brentford have shown their quality in recent games, beating West Ham and Chelsea. It will also be a special moment for Tottenham fans, seeing Christian Eriksen play for the first time since his return to the Premier League, albeit on the opposing team for whom he has already made an impact. However aside from Spurs' most recent result, they have been in good form and will be looking to get a vital three points from the game against Brentford. I reckon they will be able to come out on top once again and it’ll be a 2-1 win for Spurs.

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