As relayed by Evening Standard journalist Dan Kilpatrick, the Italian has not ruled out either Rodrigo Bentancur or the Brazilian from featuring against Arsenal today, though has suggested it would be a gamble, putting their chances of starting in jeopardy.
“#thfc Team news: Conte says Kulusevski is “going to be ready to play” against Arsenal. He does not rule out Bentancur or Richarlison but suggests he it might be a “risk” to play them on Sunday,” he tweeted.
It’s certainly been a gutting blow to not have the £60m summer signing fit and available since domestic football returned following the World Cup as he’s capable of providing a new dimension in the final third.
Heung-min Son has been somewhat off-the-boil this campaign, with only one goal and two assists besides a hat-trick against Leicester City earlier in the season. It means 12 of his 16 appearances in the Premier League have seen him fail to register a direct goal contribution, which is uncharacteristic compared to past efforts.
On the other flank, Dejan Kulusevski has also battled with injuries and whilst he looks set to be involved today, his absence would have been substantially alleviated had Richarlison been available.
The former Everton star has shown in his little game time that he can do the business for Spurs, having delivered two important goals in the Champions League, on top of his three league assists, despite only starting five matches, per Transfermarkt.
Richarlison is also able to deputise through the middle for Harry Kane and whilst he won’t be replacing him anytime soon, he has more than enough reason to start a game of this magnitude, perhaps ahead of the underperforming South Korean, should he be passed fit to be involved.
Since his arrival in England, the 25-year-old has played the Gunners ten times across all competitions, winning 50% of those matches (more wins than defeats) and Richarlison has also made four goal contributions too, so he clearly likes playing against Spurs ‘ arch-rivals.
Therefore, Conte will be praying that the £90k-per-week “goal machine” – in the words of journalist and podcaster Philip Alimo – can contribute to today’s encounter in some form because a talent of his in the final third is badly needed if the Lilywhites are to find a way past the rampant Premier League leaders.