Antonio Conte made his debut as the Spurs manager in the 0-0 draw against Everton. As we had predicted earlier, Spurs started with a 3-4-3 formation at Goodison Park. The game was dull with both sides struggling to create chances but Conte would have been pleased with the clean sheet. Conte in all his jobs as a manager has had success with a back three formation and the way that Spurs lined up against Everton, it is clear that the Italian will continue to use the 3-4-3 formation.
This formation will help Spurs be more defensively solid and utilise Son and Lucas Moura’s pace to attack on the counter. Harry Kane can reprise his role from last year as a deep lying forward and play balls forward for Son and Moura. But the biggest problem with this formation is that there is only place for two midfielders and that too only for midfielders who are comfortable defensively. The double pivot Conte chose for his first game was Hojberg-Skipp both of whom are defensively sound. And it is important that both these players in the double pivot are defensively aware and work hard off the ball because generally they will be outnumbered in the middle of the pitch. This is a problem with the 3-4-3 formation especially when playing against the 4-3-3. At the moment, Hojberg and Skipp are clearly the best players to play in central midfield in the 3-4-3 formation.
This becomes a problem for Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, all of whom are attacking players who would be more comfortable in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. Both Ndombele and Lo Celso came on as subs in the Everton game but they replaced Son and Lucas Moura rather than the two midfielders. This means that Conte clearly doesn’t see them as central midfielders but wants them further forward. But in a counter attacking style, especially with Harry Kane as the central striker, it is important to have pace among the front three. So, Son & Lucas Moura are the perfect partners for Kane in the 3-4-3 formation and it is very hard to see any of Ndombele, Lo Celso or Alli get significant gametime unless they drastically change their playing style.