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NMA – Cartilage Free Captain: Tottenham Weblog Q & A


This text couldn’t have come at a greater time — The largest query about Spurs has been Hueng-min Son’s Fantasy worth. This interview was held proper after Tottenham’s 0-2 UCL defeat to Sporting CP. Please preserve that in thoughts whereas studying. Spurs’ 6-2 dissection of Leicester occurred yesterday, and the boy in query returned to type by scoring a 2nd-half hattrick coming from the bench. The Korean Worldwide left the pitch with a smile and the match ball to commemorate the evening.

You’ll positively discover every thing you wish to find out about this match and way more on Cartilage Free Captain, which is SB Nation’s Tottenham weblog. One of many managers there, Dustin George-Miller, was variety sufficient to reply NMA questions aimed primarily at serving to our fantasy managers to attain new heights in FPL / Fantrax this season.

Earlier than we go into the interview, I ought to make clear that I prompted some confusion concerning Spurs formation after I requested about it. To me, Conte’s type continues to appear like a modified 3-5-2 with one of many forwards (largely Harry Kane) dropping again to an attacking midfielder function finishing the 5. Nevertheless, the truth is a 3-4-3, and it ought to be known as a 3-4-3 as Dustin talks about it.


The Interview

MiQ: Good day Dustin and thanks for agreeing to reply By no means Handle Alone questions on Spurs. Allow us to kick off with a quick introduction about Tottenham’s SB Nation weblog Cartilage Free Captain and the crew.

Dustin: Cartilage Free Captain was based in 2010 by Kim McCauley, and over the previous decade+ has steadily grown to change into the biggest Tottenham Hotspur fan-blog in North America. We’re fairly happy with that reality. Like all SB Nation blogs, we purpose to offer a fan voice on Tottenham outcomes and information, with an actual concentrate on neighborhood — We attempt to be a welcoming, inclusive neighborhood of Tottenham followers from all around the world, and as a lot as potential free from the poisonous histrionics that permeates all through social media.

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Spurs 2022-23 season

MiQ: Spurs gained on 4 events and drew twice in EPL season begin to occupy second place alongside Man Metropolis only one level behind Arsenal. (The house match in opposition to Leicester Metropolis is scheduled on Saturday so be happy so as to add its end result In your reply). UEFA Champions League, the document is one win and one loss and as soon as once more Spurs are in second place alongside Frankfurt and three factors behind Sporting CP. How do you charge the beginning of the season?

Dustin: Outcomes-wise, it’s fairly exhausting to argue that it’s been begin. Spurs are unbeaten within the league by way of six matches, although it ought to be talked about that arguably our hardest match of the season (away at Man City) was postponed final weekend after the dying of Queen Elizabeth II. Laced by way of that nonetheless is a streak of gentle discontent — whereas the outcomes have been unquestionably good, the performances have been uneven, and as a fan it’s just a little exhausting to disentangle these conflicting info. It doesn’t assist that Spurs limped to a reasonably dispiriting 2-0 loss at Sporting not too long ago within the Champions League, Spurs’ first loss since mid-April. That discontent might be a product of our personal heightened expectations of the season underneath Antonio Conte. Do we actually have THAT a lot to complain about proper now?

MiQ: The place do you see Spurs by the point the FIFA World Cup begins, which might be after GW-16, making it nearly mid-season? Will they preserve a high 4 rank, or maybe you have got completely different expectations?

Dustin: I don’t assume many Spurs followers really feel as if the membership goes to be difficult for a Premier League title this season — It’s simply too exhausting to look previous Man Metropolis because the heavy favorites, and Erling Haaland is a cheat code. However ending high 4 and qualifying for Champions League is the expectation for this crew underneath this coach. It’ll be robust, and there are quite a lot of unknowns, however hanging round 2nd by way of fifth by the World Cup break could be a really encouraging signal of the place they might find yourself by the tip of the season. And who is aware of? If a crew like Arsenal, Chelsea, and even Metropolis begin to falter, that places Spurs able the place they’ll probably take benefit.

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Tactician and Ways

MiQ: As a Spurs fan, I at all times hope for an prolonged lead myself! Now, allow us to transfer on to speak about Italian tactician Antonio Conte. He has performed wonders with Juventus when he began his profession, profitable three Serie-A titles. He adopted that with a 2016-17 EPL title victory with Chelsea, however he was sacked two years later after Chelsea failed to attain UCL qualification. He went again to Italy, this time with Inter Milan and helped the membership win throughout his second season, ending Juventus’ 9 yr title streak, which sarcastically, he began himself! He resigned after that and began his profession with Spurs in November 2021. This will not be identified by the youthful crowd: Conte performed most of his profession as a participant in Juventus as a box-to-box midfielder in a 3-5-2 formation that he innovated as a coach. It’s a indisputable fact that Conte helped Spurs end 4th final season and win a UCL qualification spot, so I assume the followers are joyful together with his efficiency. I do not likely have a particular query right here so I’ll depart the topic open so that you can discuss his time with Tottenham and future expectations.

Dusttin: Touchdown Antonio Conte as a head coach was a major coup for a membership like Tottenham Hotspur. He’s essentially the most proficient and excessive profile supervisor Spurs have appointed within the Premier League period (and sure, I’m counting Jose Mourinho). Convincing him to return and construct one thing at Spurs isn’t any small feat; convincing him to remain previous the preliminary first season is much more vital.

However appointing Conte additionally comes with some expectations. Tottenham are referred to as a membership that traditionally performs free-flowing, progressive soccer, and Conte… just isn’t identified for that. Not that his soccer can’t be thrilling, however it’s predicated on a stout protection, established attacking patters, and medical counterattacks. It’s not ten-behind-the-ball Mourinho-esque ways and could be scintillating when working nicely, however we haven’t seen it click on very a lot to this point this season. Hopefully that occurs with just a little time.

Conte can also be a supervisor who could be prickly when he doesn’t get his method — It’s why he’s by no means lasted longer than three seasons at a membership. That mentioned, he has mentioned quite a few instances that he’s proud of Tottenham’s summer time switch enterprise and is Spurs as a long-term prospect. We hope that continues.

MiQ: 3-5-2 formation nearly went extinct when the trending 4-3-3 got here to life. Some coaches like Conte innovated the 3-5-2 to carry sturdy in opposition to nearly each 4-3-3 powerhouse in EPL. Is it the precise mixture of gamers? Or is it the standard of gamers in midfield and their skill to play their assigned roles to the letter?

Dustin: It’s fascinating you convey that up, as Conte has solely performed a 3-5-2 formation twice at Tottenham, each final season. As a substitute, he has nearly completely employed a 3-4-3 with two attacking wingbacks and an attacking band of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, and both Dejan Kulusevski or Richarlison. Conte truly gave some quotes in a press convention very not too long ago the place he intimated that his use of the 3-4-3 was because of the wealth of attacking expertise he has at his disposal at Spurs, and hinting that he’d reasonably have a 3rd attacker within the entrance band than an additional central midfielder. Tottenham’s major CMs, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur, are defensively stable and pragmatic however usually are not inventive passers, and as such, ball development has been shifted to the wing-backs, primarily Emerson Royal and Ivan Perisic. Outcomes have been blended, however I perceive the rationale behind it. I do surprise if Conte may shift to a 3-5-2, sacrificing a extra fluid entrance three for an additional passer in midfield and a Harry Kane strike partnership in opposition to sure opponents, however we haven’t seen it but.

However sure, Conte’s groups are well-drilled and are anticipated to know their roles. Spurs had the choice to signal a extra inventive midfielder this summer time and didn’t do it, which means Conte is aware of how he needs to play and expects his gamers to stick to his system.

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Summer time Transfers

MiQ: I imagine your reply on ways will give our fantasy managers perception concerning the significance of a few of the gamers of their fantasy groups. Transferring on, it’s summer time signings early efficiency evaluation. After taking part in a complete of 9 matches by the point this text drops, who’s the perfect / worst summer time signing this season?

Dustin: I feel we have now to be just a little cautious, as “the perfect signing” from a fantasy perspective isn’t essentially the perfect signing as a fan of a selected soccer crew. From a fantasy first focus, I’d say Ivan Perisic has been Spurs’ greatest signing of the summer time up to now, and he’ll proceed to get factors, although fantasy homeowners are rightfully cautious about simply how a lot he’ll play — Conte likes to rotate his fullbacks when there are a number of matches in every week. However taking an extended view, I feel Richarlison might be Spurs’ greatest fantasy signing when all is alleged and performed — he’s been an impressive performer, and whereas he hasn’t scored within the Premier League but, he’s the one poised to hold the scoring burden ought to Kane get injured or Son proceed his latest droop.

MiQ: The one notable switch out this summer time, for my part, is Steven Bergwijn, he’s a daily starter at Ajax this season, scoring targets and making assists usually as nicely. Will Tottenham remorse not having him within the squad anymore?

Dustin: Stevie’s a bizarre one. He didn’t profit in any respect from taking part in underneath Mourinho, who deployed him as a defensive winger, which could be very a lot not his skillset, or underneath Nuno Espirito Santo, whose ways left loads to be desired. He’s clearly a really proficient participant, however he’s additionally not match for Conte, and by the point the Italian got here in, it was clear that he was disgruntled and needed out. Bergwijn’s struggles had been primarily a product of circumstance, and it doesn’t shock me that he’s tearing it up within the Eredivisie. The Premier League is a troublesome league, however Bergwijn could be very clearly higher than what he confirmed at Spurs. I want him nicely, however Stevie and Tottenham merely was not match.

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Son’s Type

MiQ: Since we’re speaking concerning the left-wing place, Korean celebrity and certainly one of my favourite gamers just isn’t making the same affect by way of scoring targets and creating them. Nevertheless, Conte continues to belief him to begin. How do you charge his efficiency this season, since I for one perceive that not scoring and never helping just isn’t every thing in soccer?

Dustin: No method round it — Sonny’s been unhealthy. He has but to place in something higher than a tepidly good efficiency and remains to be goalless, and it’s just a little worrying. That mentioned, Son has at all times had fallow durations the place he disappears for matches at a time, and nearly each time he rounds into type and goes on a purple patch, scoring 5 in seven or one thing like that. He appears to be like like he’s caught in his personal head for the time being, however I’m not frightened. Leicester this weekend appears to be like like alternative for him to get again on observe, and if not he’ll have a few worldwide matches with Korea subsequent week to seek out his capturing boots.

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Richarlison vs Kulusevski

MiQ: Switching to the right-wing, Richarlison was given the nod to begin in opposition to Marseille in UCL and scored two gorgeous targets. He was awarded with a second begin in opposition to Sporting, however Tottenham blanked despite the fact that the stats present six out of twelve makes an attempt had been on track. Do you agree with benching Kulusevski in favor of taking part in Richarlison? And who do you assume is a greater match for the crew?

Dustin: I don’t actually, however it’s a curious conundrum. One of many issues we’ve seen tactically from Spurs this season is that groups usually tend to press the midfield, forcing Spurs to funnel their ball development by way of Emerson Royal on the precise facet of the pitch. The benefit of Kulusevski is that Deki hyperlinks up extraordinarily nicely with Royal, and is extra of a creator on that proper flank than Richarlison, who’s large, crashes the field, and holds up play very nicely. So when Richarlison is on the precise with Royal, that very same type of link-up play isn’t as available and Spurs have regarded just a little tepid at instances going ahead as Emerson isn’t a very good crosser of the ball.

Richarlison is a participant who’s forcing his method into the dialog, and that’s a extremely good drawback to have, however I’m wondering if there are different methods to get him concerned — both his early function as a super-sub, or as a rotation possibility on the left for Son if he wants a relaxation. Kulusevski additionally has been mooted as a potential proper wing-back, which may very well be tremendous enjoyable in the precise circumstance.

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Fantasy Prospects

MiQ: The previous couple of questions had been supposed to offer perception to our fantasy managers about fantasy prospects going ahead within the season. In your opinion, who can we put money into inside Spurs squad? (A few choices ought to be sufficient however you’re at all times welcome to elaborate extra).

Dustin: You in all probability can’t go too fallacious with any of Tottenham’s attacking gamers. Harry Kane is the apparent reply, and for good motive — He’s chasing Jimmy Greaves down as Tottenham’s all-time scorer, and that’s going to additional inspire him to attain as a lot as potential. He’s additionally nearly inconceivable to maintain out of the facet. Son Heung-Min has been poor, however he gained’t keep that method. For fantasy homeowners who haven’t already dropped him (and actually, I don’t blame you), sticking with him some time longer might pay dividends. He gained the Golden Boot final season, he’s clearly obtained targets in him. We’ve talked about Richarlison and Kulusevski already. I’m undecided how a lot I’d advocate Perisic solely as a result of he’s in a job-share with Ryan Sessegnon, and it’s robust to know when he’s going to play and when he’ll be rested this season. They each have assists in them, so the secret’s realizing when to play them (that’s robust!).

Additionally, surprisingly Spurs’ second highest scorer behind Kane is Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. “Common Ho” isn’t referred to as an particularly prolific scorer in Conte’s system, however he has two targets already this season and performs a way more progressive function for Denmark. At 5.5, he’s a good low-cost possibility as a result of he’s going to play a LOT and may shock homeowners with some factors.

MiQ: I extremely recognize your cooperation and solutions to the questions. If there’s anything you prefer to add or say to our readers?

Dustin: Come on you Spurs!


Spurs introduced it final evening and defeated Leicester Metropolis 6-2 highlighted with Son’s return to type. I hope that you simply loved studying a real Tottenham fan’s insightful solutions to my questions.

We’re within the technique of interviewing many different SB Nation blogs over the worldwide break: Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Man United and Inter Milan. Extra could also be included over the approaching days!

Who’s a part of your fantasy crew from Spurs? Will you be choosing extra gamers after studying this text? Or possibly dropping gamers? Please preserve us up to date within the feedback part beneath in your FPL / Fantrax / UCL fantasy plans for after the worldwide break!

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