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Spurs: Conte must finally unleash Djed Spence vs Leeds

Tottenham Hotspur welcome Leeds United to north London in the Premier League‘s curtain-raiser before the World Cup break gets underway and it is time for Lilywhites boss Antonio Conte to unleash Djed Spence.

The Italian head coach is looking to see his side bounce back following successive defeats to Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, who knocked Spurs out of the Carabao Cup in midweek, and he will be buoyed by the fact that Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski are fit enough to be involved.

However, it’s at right wing-back where his biggest problem still lingers. It was only a few months into his reign, having taken over from Nuno Espirito Santo, that he realised it was a severe area of weakness.

The Times reported that he was keen to bolster the role in January, with Wolverhampton Wanderers ace Adama Traore among the targets. It took until the summer transfer window for some activity, though, as the club sealed a £20m move for the England U21 international.

Whilst Conte very much made it clear that Spence was a hierarchy signing rather than his own, he really should have garnered more than the 26 minutes we’ve seen him feature on the pitch across all competitions.

Who should start at RWB vs Leeds?

Emerson Royal

Emerson Royal

Djed Spence

Djed Spence

Matt Doherty

Matt Doherty

Emerson Royal, the 53-year-old’s baffling ‘go-to’ choice continues to start despite poor attacking displays – journalist Josh Bunting suggested that the Brazil international was “not Premier League quality whatsoever” and also claimed that he was “maybe the worst player to play for Tottenham” in his lifetime.

Such criticism has very much been echoed by former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara, who said on talkSPORT: “He’s a complete liability. Every week we play him, he makes mistakes,” before later adding: “He’s not good enough. He’s a mistake just waiting to happen!”

Spence, meanwhile, was one of the only shining lights from Spurs’ embarrassing exit from the League Cup – a competition that they should really have in their sights, given their lack of silverware. Indeed, respected local reporter Alasdair Gold claimed the former Forest man was ‘the brightest of Spurs subs’ as he tried to take the game to his former loan club.

There are stark differences in the final third quality of the two stars.

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How well do you know Spurs manager Antonio Conte? Question 1. During his playing days, in which position did Conte typically operate?

The 22-year-old is averaging 2.04 successful dribbles and 0.13 expected assists (xA) per 90 over the last year, which is a far greater output than Emerson, who at a much better level has only mustered up 0.57 successful dribbles and 0.10 xA per 90.

Tottenham’s only goal of the game against Liverpool came after the former FC Barcelona flop was withdrawn, with his replacement Matt Doherty providing the pre-assist to Kulusevski’s ball into eventual scorer Harry Kane.

And it was the same against AFC Bournemouth, where Conte’s substitutes inspired a comeback victory from 2-1 down, just minutes after Emerson was removed to the bench – it’s not a mere coincidence as Spurs are simply better without the Brazilian being involved.

That is exactly why the Lilywhites boss must now turn to Spence as he looks to get back to winning ways and the young Englishman – who Arsenal legend Martin Keown dubbed a “Rolls-Royce” back in February – can be a key cog in putting a few past Leeds’ leaky backline.

AND in other news, Cristian Stellini drops Dejan Kulusevski update ahead of Leeds…

Article title: Spurs: Conte must finally unleash Djed Spence vs Leeds

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