Antonio Conte has urged patience with January signings Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, but the Tottenham manager will surely be tempted to buck caution and start the pair when Wolves visit on Sunday.
Conte is aware of the need for deadline day signings from Juventus to adapt to the “intensity” of the Premier League and Kulusevski described English football as “like a different sport”. “It’s almost like there’s no foul here,” he said today.
Nonetheless, Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Southampton exposed the cracks in Conte’s side and offered a simple plan for future opponents: press Spurs and they’ll make a string of mistakes. Bruno Lage, the boss of Wolves, will have taken good note of it.
Bentancur, the Uruguayan midfielder, immediately made the difference when he came on for the final 30 minutes on Wednesday, adding quality and composure to midfield, and Conte should consider giving him a first start on Sunday.
Kulusevski also came off the bench against Saints, his arrival coinciding with Spurs’ late collapse, and the Swede could also be considered against Wolves, with Conte believing the left-footed striker is a possible option at right-back .
Along with Davinson Sanchez and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, wing-back Emerson Royal was particularly susceptible to the Saints’ aggressive approach, making a string of mistakes, while Conte tended to ignore former Wolves man Matt Doherty.
The Spurs manager is desperate to welcome center half Eric Dier, who has missed the last two games with a thigh problem, but Oliver Skipp is sidelined this weekend with a groin strain .