Gary Neville says Spurs under Antonio Conte will frighten their top-four rivals, and will soon become a “real” team.
Conte’s side played their part in an epic 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday’s Super – one of the best Premier League matches to have seen in recent years – and Neville feels they will be competitive in the first four races of the season.
Tottenham are unbeaten in the Premier League under Conte – winning three points and drawing two – and although they are six points behind Arsenal in fourth, they have three games in hand.
Speaking in his post-match podcast, Neville also discussed the fascination with Liverpool defenders Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, why there is no other team in Europe, and whether there is pressure on Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea.
Tottenham Conte will be there
“He’s a great coach, you can see his impact on this group. The energy compared to what it was before, the pitch is electric, and he’s been fantastic here throughout the game.
“You can see him on the touchline. The emotions. He cares passionately and wants to win.
“He would be disappointed with the missed opportunities because I think he shaped his team perfectly, but he’s also proud and I know he has a good group of players here. We’ve been asking about that over the past 12-18 months.
“Was this team over the hill and was it spent under Mauricio Pochettino and with the quality of what they can get? But they showed today’s performance that can tell us they can really compete and push into the top four.
“He will create a little bit of fear in Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, West Ham, and all the others who aspire to stay there. This Tottenham team is going to be real in the next four to five months.”
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Tottenham and Liverpool were something special
“What I just saw here today is something special. People who go to Christmas are worried about making sure they can see their families, worried about possible additional restrictions, which will boost them this afternoon. I and everyone in this stadium have reinforced.”
“The fans who are leaving here will see something special. I don’t say it lightly, it’s a 2-2 draw in the middle of the season with no titles at stake. But the group of players, managers and coaching staff made a real spectacle.
“All I want the Premier League to be. Fast. From start to finish. Tactical as well. It was a chicken game in some ways, but they both came out on top.”
Robertson and Alexander-Arnold: The best PL players ever?
“Sometimes, during a match, you have to check yourself when you’re involved in an emotional game like this as a commentator or co-commentator, you remind them at the same time as the greatest defenders I’ve seen before, Roberto Carlos and Cafu.”
“For many years they have been the shining example. They have transformed the way full-backs play. I know there have been strikers before, Liverpool teams in the seventies, but when you think of them as striker first, defender second, contributing to free kicks, attacks, crosses, it’s every part of the game. They made the full-back a prominent part of the team.
“They were exceptional, but these two… I don’t think I’ve seen two full-backs playing in the Premier League as well as these two pairs. The way they come together on the pitch, the way they play the game, it’s an absolute treat.
“Robertson consistently does everything well. He defends well, he’s competitive – quite a lot at the end – but he scores and sets up. Alexander-Arnold is an absolute phenomenon when it comes to the quality of his passes, his delivery. It’s something I’ve never seen from a full-back. .
“He’s like De Bruyne, it’s Beckham, it’s Gerrard, and they attack players. He plays right back, it’s the highest honor I can give him.
“The contribution these two players have made is incredible. It’s strange to me. I grew up saying let the full-back have it. You can’t let these two have it.
“Conte deliberately let them get it, and that was the beauty of the match, because it encouraged them to think forward, ‘Here we go, I can win the match for my team.’ But in Conte’s mind, that was how he would win the match, to expose a central defender. Liverpool”.
Man City is not like any other team
Liverpool is now three points behind Manchester, after Pep Guardiola’s side beat Newcastle 4-0, and Neville says City perform like no other in Europe.
“We have exceptional teams. Pep Guardiola’s team and Man City are exceptional, like Jurgen Klopp’s team at Liverpool.
“They are another level, two teams you will see in the history of the Premier League. [Man City] Football is played like no other, completely different than any other team in Europe actually, not just this league.
“Technical ability, passing, possession, attention to the ball, efficiency, methodology, discipline, starting positions, movements – they are all like clockwork. Almost the best watch you can see, Pep Guardiola’s playing system.
Newcastle was nowhere near them. The second half was a procession.
Tuchel will be worried
Blink of an eye, Chelsea They are now six points behind City after topping the Premier League table just two and a half weeks ago, but Neville says Thomas Tuchel has enough money in the bank.
“I think he’s got enough money in the bank. I know it’s a club that does things very differently, but I hate to think Thomas Tuchel is under pressure.
“I think he’d be a little anxious. I think mentally when you try to cancel a match and then get asked to play it, I can’t think it would help the mentality in that match.
“I know they didn’t have a full bench and we have to ask later why more young players couldn’t join him, but he was a strong Chelsea side.”