Antonio Conte inherits Mourinho’s Tottenham problem during shaky debut win over Vitesse

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The Antonio Conte era got off to a shaky start as Tottenham beat Vitesse Arnhem 3-2 in the Europa Conference League on Thursday. Spurs avoided the embarrassment of their previous meeting with the Dutch side with a much better display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Conte started the new era by reverting to his familiar 3-4-3 system – which saw just one change from the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United – with Sergio Reguillon replacing Giovani Lo Celso in the starting XI. 

Spurs went three goals ahead courtesy of goals from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and a Jacob Rasmussen own goal, before Vitesse pulled two goals back before half-time.

Conte’s side played with a real zip and spring in their step, but if they are to be one of the best in the Premier League, then sorting out their defensive weaknesses will be a top priority for Conte. 

Vitesse punished Spurs twice, but against stronger opposition it could have been a whole lot worse for Conte’s side, who could have easily been 2-0 down before they scored themselves.

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Just like in the Jose Mourinho era, where teams were let back into games easily and needless goals were conceded, Vitesse were allowed to do the same.

Take nothing away from Vitesse, who showed grit and determination to get back into the contest, but the Dutch side are not at the same level as the best teams in the Premier League.

But because the Dutch side were themselves weak at the back, Spurs’ quality shone through, and they were able to make their chances pay going forward.

Conte has not taken a job mid-season since 2007 – when he took over the helm at Italian side Bari – which shows what he thinks he can achieve at Spurs.

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While his first game in charge was on the whole a success, it was also a pertinent reminder that Spurs’ problems are still there, with or without a new manager.

If Conte is to play his favoured formation, then Spurs have a lot of work to do to eradicate those issues.

But it certainly won’t be easy for a side who at times, looked exposed and vulnerable. 

The Europa Conference League is sure to be near the bottom of Conte’s priority list, but it’s a competition Spurs are more than capable of winning.

And more importantly, it would bring some much-needed silverware to a club that hasn’t won anything in 13 long years.

The new manager effect paid off as Spurs flew out the traps and opened the scoring inside 15 minutes when Son made no mistake in front of goal. 

Spurs then went two up when Harry Kane and Moura worked in tandem, before the Brazilian coolly slotted past Vitesse goalkeeper Markus Schubert.  

Ben Davies’ shot was then bundled over the line by defender Rasmussen to put Spurs three ahead in the 29th minute.

Spurs’ defensive vulnerabilities shone through as Vitesse fought back and got themselves two quick fire goals through Rasmussen and midfielder Matus Bero. 

The result means Spurs move up to second in Group G after four games, with Slovenian side Mura and French outfit Rennes still to play in the group stage of the competition.

Conte’s side will now switch their focus back to the Premier League where they will face Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park.

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