Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Pundit fears Antonio Conte has made major Tottenham tactical error that could see Arsenal dominate north London derby

Antonio Conte Tottenham v Fulham

Jermaine Jenas feels Antonio Conte may have made a mistake by not playing a three-man Tottenham midfield in Saturday’s north London derby clash with Arsenal at The Emirates.

The Spurs boss has opted for his normal 3-4-3 formation to take on the Gunners, with Son Heung-min returning to the front three due to an injury to Dejan Kulusevski.

Richarlison also gets the nod, with Emerson Royal and Cristian Romero back to replace Davinson Sanchez and Ryan Sessegnon.

But former Tottenham midfielder Jenas believes Conte should have started with the same formation that ended the rout of Leicester.

Yves Bissouma was brought on in that game to give Spurs more midfield control alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur. It also allowed Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to play as a two, with the latter hitting a stunning hat-trick against the Foxes.

But Jenas is concerned that Arsenal could completely dictate the play with their extra man in midfield.

Speaking to BT Sport ahead of the game, he said: “I think that the way they finished the game against Leicester, with Bissouma, Bentancur and Hojbjerg in that midfield area allowed that relationship between Kane and Son to go and explore and create goals the way they do.

“The biggest reason why I was expecting to see it was for control. This game can go wild, as we’ve seen over the years. And I think this season Tottenham have been dominated when it comes to possession of the ball.

“They haven’t been able to control the flow of the game. And I think having that three in midfield against Arsenal will have given them a better chance of doing that. But obviously Richarlison, Son and Kane up top isn’t bad either. So it’s going to be interesting to see.”

Keown fears Tottenham front three

Fellow pundit Martin Keown responded by saying that the front three will cause Arsenal’s defence problems.

He believes the Gunners will be more pragmatic in defence and not push the full-backs as far forward, for fear of being hit on the counter – as they were at the end of last season in defeat at Tottenham.

He said: “Those three [Kane, Son and Richarlison] are the ones that are winning the games for Spurs. That is the way he [Conte] wins games.

“Arsenal’s defence will stay compact and intact as a four. But that three up front is a massive threat for Spurs.”

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