Up for the fight: three crucial home games after the World Cup in the battle for top four
Tottenham entered the international break in fourth spot, although they sit just three points clear of Manchester United in fifth, who have a game in hand. As a result, Spurs will need to pick up some significant results at home after the World Cup if they are to secure a top-four finish.
Arsenal (January 14 - TV dates pending)
Arch-rivals Arsenal have surprised everyone so far this season, with Arteta’s side finishing November a massive five points clear of Manchester City at the Premier League summit. One of their 12 wins came against Tottenham on October 1, and Conte’s side will need to be out for revenge when the two play again in mid-January. Beyond merely needing the points, a derby day victory is likely to give Spurs a massive morale boost for a crucial second half of the season.
Despite their current position in fourth, Tottenham are still a less-than-generous 5/4 to finish in the Champions League places when users bet on Premier League outright markets. Nevertheless, they are likely to be among many pundits’ Premier League tips to bring in more recruits in January, meaning anything is possible by the time they face the Gunners on the 14th. Conte will be looking for a repeat of the 3-0 victory they secured at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in 2021-22.
Manchester City (February 4 - TV dates pending)
A fixture re-scheduling meant that Tottenham’s game against Manchester City in September was postponed, meaning that Spurs are yet to face Pep Guardiola’s side in the league this season. City faltered in their last Premier League outing before the World Cup break, slipping to a late 1-2 defeat at home to Brentford thanks to an Ivan Toney brace, his second coming eight minutes into injury time.
While there is no evidence to go on from 2022-23, Spurs’ record against the Citizens last campaign makes for pleasant reading. On Premier League opening day, ex-head coach Nuno Espirito Santo masterminded a narrow 1-0 victory, although the return fixture was a much more thrilling affair. This time with Conte at the helm, Kane’s last-gasp winner was enough to down eventual champions City, in what would be a crucial result in Spurs’ successful top four battle.
Chelsea (February 25 - TV dates pending)
Stamford Bridge is widely regarded as one of the feistiest locations of the season, and the second game this season was no different. The home team didn’t react well to yet another Harry Kane equaliser, who snatched a point in the 96th minute. Twice Spurs came from behind that day, and Conte will be looking for the same grit and determination when the two meet again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
While ex-head coach Thomas Tuchel clashed with Conte following that draw for Chelsea, new manager Graham Potter appears to be fairing no better at the Bridge. Defeat away at Newcastle before the international break was Chelsea’s third in a row in the league, making it five games without a win as they lumber down in eighth. The Blues’ absolute necessity for an upturn in form means they are likely to arrive fighting on February 25, although Conte’s men should be more than ready for a game of that calibre.
While Tottenham may have left it late in several league matches this season, Conte will be looking for stability and consistency as his side march on for another top-four finish. Victories in these games will certainly be a big help, as Spurs must look to utilise home soil to their advantage.
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