Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur side return to Premier League action this evening, with Spurs welcoming Frank Lampard’s Everton to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the 20:00 kick-off.
And, with the Italian’s outfit having crashed out of the FA Cup via a 1-0 AET defeat to Middlesbrough last Tuesday, as well as having lost three of their last five outings in the top flight, the 52-year-old will undoubtedly be hoping for a much-improved performance this time out against the Toffees.
However, with Oliver Skipp remaining sidelined due to injury, Conte will once again have to make do without the highly-rated 21-year-old in the middle of the park – something that will have come as a huge blow to the former Inter Milan manager.
Having said that, the impact of the young midfielder’s continued absence will certainly be eased by the impending return of Rodrigo Bentancur, who had sat out Tottenham’s last two fixtures as a result of an ankle injury.
Over his four Premier League appearances since making his £21.5m move to North London in the January transfer window, the 24-year-old central midfielder has been in impressive form for Spurs, averaging 53.8 touches of the ball, completing 34.5 passes, making 0.8 interceptions, two tackles, 0.5 key passes and winning 4.8 duels per game.
These returns have seen the player who James Horncastle labelled “blue-collar” average a very respectable SofaScore match rating of 6.88, ranking him as Tottenham’s joint 12th-best performer in the top flight of English football.
However, it was undoubtedly in the 2-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in which – despite the result – the £41m-rated Uruguay international proved just how important a part of the Spurs side he could go on to become under Conte, with the 24-year-old enjoying 90 touches of the ball, completing 59 passes – two of which were key – winning nine duels, making one interception, winning three tackles and completing two dribbles over his 90 minutes on the pitch.
As such, a repeat of this performance against Everton tonight would undoubtedly go a long way to helping Conte’s side secure a much-needed three points, while the presence of the tough-tackling Uruguayan would also petrify the Toffees’ own midfield options – one of whom could well be Tottenham’s former attacking sensation, Dele Alli.