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MARTIN KEOWN: Eric Dier could be the perfect match for a Tottenham back-three

MARTIN KEOWN: Eric Dier could be the perfect match for a Tottenham back-three … while Antonio Conte’s new lineup could prevent Harry Kane and Son Heung-min from going deep.

  • Tottenham have hired leading football expert Antonio Conte
  • Chelsea went from finishing tenth to champion during their first year at the helm
  • This was the season that coach Pep Guardiola took over Manchester City
  • If Conte goes 3-5-2, Kane and Son Heung-min won’t need to sink deep


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Tottenham have recruited leading football expert Antonio Conte, a highly motivated individual with a string of successful short and medium term seasons in charge of top clubs.

Its successes are due, in large part, to its system. It has this pragmatic, quick-fix, plug-in approach that can dramatically improve clubs.

Chelsea went from finishing tenth to champion in his first year at the helm. That was the season Pep Guardiola took over at Manchester City, but couldn’t keep up with the pace that Conte transformed his team.

Tottenham have signed top soccer expert Antonio Conte (above)

Tottenham have signed top soccer expert Antonio Conte (above)

Their sides tend to play 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. It starts with a stocky back of three. At Juventus, he had Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

At Chelsea, Conte used 3-4-3, with the incredibly fit N’Golo Kante as one of two central midfielders.

Most recently at Inter Milan, Conte used three in midfield. Marcelo Brozovic sat deeper than Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen, and would cover the wings when they pushed high on the field.

Chelsea went from finishing tenth to champion during Conte's first year in command

Chelsea went from finishing tenth to champion during Conte's first year in command

Chelsea went from finishing tenth to champion during Conte’s first year in command

That was the season Pep Guardiola (above) took over at Manchester City but couldn't keep up with Conte transformed his team.

That was the season Pep Guardiola (above) took over at Manchester City but couldn't keep up with Conte transformed his team.

That was the season Pep Guardiola (above) took over at Manchester City but couldn’t keep up with Conte transformed his team.

These wide midfielders cover great distances and often fold. If Conte goes 3-5-2, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min won’t need to sink deep.

Tottenham have covered the least distance in league games, but that will change. Eden Hazard isn’t a huge fan of running, but even he figured it out: it’s Conte’s style or there’s no way you’re going to get started.

The Spurs have players to play Conte’s way. Anyone who starts in the middle of the last three will have to be able to throw direct passes forward, like Bonucci did with Conte’s Italy at Euro 2016, and that could be a job for Eric Dier.

If Conte goes 3-5-2, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min won't need to sink

If Conte goes 3-5-2, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min won't need to sink

If Conte goes 3-5-2, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min won’t need to sink

Anyone who starts in the middle of the last three will have to be able to throw direct passes forward, like Bonucci did with Conte’s Italy at Euro 2016, and that could be a job for Eric Dier.

It will also be interesting who he uses on the right side. At Chelsea, Victor Moses went from being a surplus to a regular starter. That included Cesar Azpilicueta being moved to the right of the back three.

We even got to see Lucas Moura as a right back and Emerson Royal as a central defender. We played three at the back under Bruce Rioch at Arsenal and we always had questions about it. Intelligence is needed to implement.

Fortunately for Tottenham, they have appointed a master at teaching players in doubly fast time.

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