Tottenham host Brentford on Thursday night, as Antonio Conte takes charge of his fifth games as Spurs boss.
The Italian had started fairly stably, winning twice and drawing once in his first three outings – even if the performances weren’t all that rousing. However, his side must bounce back from an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Slovenian outfit NS Mura in the Europa Conference League last time out.
Now sitting seventh in the table, Spurs play their first Premier League game in 11 days after seeing their clash with Burnley snowed off last weekend.
Their opponents on Thursday are a Brentford side who have seemingly adapted to the top flight well. Thomas Frank’s men had started the campaign very encouragingly although have had a rocky time of things in recent weeks.
After earning 12 points in their opening seven fixtures, the Bees went on a run of four consecutive defeats but have turned that form around with a 3-3 draw at Newcastle before beating Everton 1-0 last time out.
Here’s 90min’s preview of this clash.
When is kick off? Thursday 2 December, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
What TV channel is it on? Amazon Prime Video (UK), fuboTV (US)
Highlights? Sky Sports YouTube channel
Who’s the referee? Jonathan Moss
Who’s the VAR? Peter Bankes
Conte will have to continue to make do without central defender Cristian Romero, who has suffered a serious injury and is out until January or February.
Fellow Argentine Giovani Lo Celso is also doubtful to feature on Thursday, as is youngster Dane Scarlett – although it’s not as if the striker role is up for grabs at Spurs, is it?
You can read a predicted lineup for Tottenham here.
Frank has a few more concerns to contend with. The Brentford boss saw both of his wing-backs, Sergi Canos and Rico Henry, come off with niggles against Everton last time out, although he is confident that they’ll be available for selection at Spurs.
Christian Norgaard also represents a minor doubt for the visitors although Mathias Jorgensen will more than likely likely miss out, joining David Raya, Kristoffer Ajer and Josh DaSilva on the sidelines.
You can read a predicted Brentford lineup here.
You may not be too surprised to hear that the list of fixtures played between these two clubs isn’t a million miles long. There have been 42 meetings between the two sides, with Tottenham largely dominating. Spurs have won 23 while Brentford have managed just six victories (13 draws).
They’ve met just seven times since 1949, with Thursday’s hosts winning on six occasions and the other fixture resulting in a draw. Their most recent encounter – the first time they’d faced each other in 21 years – came back in January as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham progressed to the League Cup final with a 2-0 win.
Without too much history to fall back on, this may be a tough one to predict. While Spurs evidently boast a squad superior in established quality, there’s no question that Brentford hold the upper hand when it comes to spirit and general intensity.
The appointment of Conte will inevitably yield positives, although those seem to be on their way a bit further down the line than Spurs fan may have originally envisaged. By comparison, Brentford have adapted to life in the Premier League much more smoothly than most would have imagined at the start of the season and, after bouncing back from poor form to beat Everton 1-0, it’s clear that there’s an instilled belief and pride around the club.
It will surely be a well-fought battle between two sides of varying quality and mindset at this moment in time. Although Brentford are full of surprises, Spurs’ quality should see them through here.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Brentford