Wolves face on Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday in what will be a tough test but could be the first time Wolves fans see Matheus Nunes in the famous old gold and black. We spoke with Matt Hayes, a Tottenham blogger who gave us the low down on Spurs.
How has the start of the season gone for you?
We have had two very different performances after a very successful transfer window. We were cohesive, dominant and convincing on the opening day against an admittedly weak Southampton side without needing to start any of our new signings. Son looked rusty but I’m sure he’ll get past that soon! Sunday at Stamford Bridge was the chalk to our opening day cheese where Chelsea were simply better. At the end of the day, however, our point counts the same as theirs and we earned ours in a very un-Spursy way.
Are you happy with the transfer business that’s been conducted by your club?
Our business has been incredibly sensible. There is a faction of our fanbase that is understandably underwhelmed with our defensive acquisitions – the £150m investment by the board seemed to promise an expensive left centre-back in the shape of Alessandro Bastoni or Josko Gvardiol & a marauding right-wingback a la Hakimi. Djed Spence and Clement Lenglet on loan didn’t scratch that itch. The signings of Yves Bissouma, Richarlison, Ivan Perisic & Destiny Udogie are all fantastic in their own right. We now have the squad depth to challenge Chelsea for third place.
What is your opinion on your manager?
He’s the best in the world. Of course, I know he isn’t, but he’s made us feel like he is. He had a massively successful time at Juventus with Fabio Paratici and their partnership seems to be bearing fruit yet again. They are two men who breathe football and live to work, and their most outstanding accomplishment so far is getting money from the board and convincing Daniel Levy to give up control on transfers. Conte has instilled a ‘never-say-die’ attitude in a team known for bottling the big occasions, and we have a genuine feeling that silverware isn’t far away.
What is your team’s typical formation and style of play?
Conte is wedded to a 3-4-3, although we did switch to a 4-4-2 in the second half against Chelsea to match their formation in possession. Romero and Davies in the wide centre-back roles will play more advanced than you are expecting. Our wingbacks, whoever plays, will stretch the pitch as wide as possible. We aim to be physically dominant in midfield, where we admittedly lack creativity. Our front three speaks for itself – Kulusevski has been a priceless addition to our team. Only 2 players have more goal contributions in the Premier League since he joined: Harry Kane and Heung-min Son. We like to have the ball, but we love to be without it.
Which player do you tip to have a big season for Spurs?
Dejan Kulusevski. The man is the most exciting talent Tottenham have signed in my decade or so supporting the club. He’s only 22 but he’s experienced, with over 100 top-flight appearances under his belt. He is so dangerous when he gets the ball on his left foot, whether he’s aiming for the head of Harry Kane or the far top corner. Without him at our disposal, Arsenal would have strolled into the top 4 last season. My money is on Kulu keeping us in that top 4 for another year.
How do you think you will do this season?
I think we can beat Chelsea to third place. I won’t kid myself into thinking we can challenge Man City or Liverpool, but I believe our squad is better than Chelsea’s. I said before our clash at the Bridge that I expected Chelsea to win as they have the better starting eleven, but I expect us to finish above them because we have greater depth all across the pitch to allow us to deal with 50-60 fixtures between now and May.
What are your thoughts on Wolves?
I have a soft spot for Wolves. My late grandfather had a season ticket at Molineux back in the day. I have been impressed with your business this summer. Goncalo Guedes is a brilliant player who always caught my eye when I watched Bryan Gil at Valencia last season. As an Irishman, I am a big fan of Nathan Collins & wrapping Hee-chan Hwang up on a permanent deal was a no-brainer. From an outside perspective, I’m confused at the Conor Coady departure but I’m sure Bruno Lage has his reasons!
Who from Wolves are you worried about playing against?
If Goncalo Guedes is in the side, he could cause us problems. We are defensively weak at wingback and his pace could easily exploit the often-bemusing defensive positioning out wide. Pedro Neto fits into the same category. I will always be concerned about the passing range of Ruben Neves when we play Wolves. The pace you have up top with his vision could cause us big problems on the transition.
Score prediction for our game?
I’ll go with a 2-1 win for Spurs. We don’t seem capable of keeping clean sheets, but we have so much going for us on the front foot. I’m definitely expecting a tighter affair than our opening-day romp against Southampton but I think we will edge it back in front of our home crowd. Harry Kane will be gunning for a goal or two – he is one goal away from setting the all-time record of most Premier League goals for a single club. He already has 184.