Tottenham Hotspur took a little while to get going in their week 1 match at home vs. Southampton, but once they left the Saints in the dust. Down 1-0 to Soton early, they roared back behind goals from Ryan Sessegnon, Eric Dier, Dejan Kulusevski, and a Mohammed Salisu own goal to emphatically win the match 4-1.
Antonio Conte was certainly pleased with his team’s performance in week 1. Here were Conte’s immediate thoughts after the match, as given to Match of the Day on BBC:
“It was a perfect start for us, despite going behind. We started well because we were leading the game but we conceded a goal but after this we continue to play and we continued to believe in what we are working on in the training sessions.
“I liked the game a lot for the result but especially the way in which the result was created – creating many chances to score, good possession, good high and medium pressure and we were good when we lost the ball and the intensity to try and get it back.
“I saw a lot of positive things, but we are only in the first game. Today we have seen summer work with my players. “Dejan [Kulusevski] made a big impact but also last season. He and Rodrigo [Bentaceur] integrated really good with the squad. Dejan has continued in this way but he has to continue to work in this way with his behavior and ambition. He has a lot of ambition – he wants to become one of the best players in his role. I think this ambition is good, if he is humble and works to continue to work he can do that.”
Conte saved some of his most effusive praise for Ryan Sessegnon in his post-match press conference. Sess had two in the net on Saturday (one called back for offside) and terrorized Spurs academy grad Kyle Walker-Peters throughout the match.
“I am really pleased for Sess because Sess first of all we are working very well with him, especially on physical aspect because in the past this player had many injuries. After one month, two months and again – injury or muscular problem. He is working well and we are giving him stability in physical aspect. It is very important we sign a player like Ivan Perisic because he can see the way to try to learn something from Ivan.
“We are talking about a real important player and top player. Sometimes it is good to bring a player in your team who is a bit over age but at the same time a good player with experience who can improve a young player in your squad. I am really pleased because today he played a good game. Emerson played a good game. We have to continue in the same way.
“If you remember three or four minutes before there was a cross and we were really upset with [Sess] because he had to attack it, but then we celebrated his goal. Five minutes before he wasn’t in the right place and to see the opposite was good. He has to continue to show that quality.”
Tottenham were without Oliver Skipp due to injury and Richarlison due to suspension, and Conte opted to start the first match of the season with none of his new signings. Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet, and Djed Spence were all named to the bench, and while all eventually made it onto the pitch, Conte was asked why he chose to begin the year with the same players with whom he ended it.
“Me, I’m not surprised because I think I used common sense. In this moment we are starting the new season and the old players reached a big achievement last season to get a place in the Champions League.
“My message was very clear. I trust a lot in the old players and in this moment they are more reliable than the new players because they need to work with us and implement their football knowledge. With the old players I am a step forward than with with the new players. I think it was right after this game and the final sense.
“I am really happy though because we have new signings who will go into our process and they will learn fast to improve and at the same time they have to know that they have to fight and give me the possibility to rotate. Right now we are playing once a week but in September it will be three games a week and it’s important to rotate without dropping the quality and the club agreed with me.”
Spurs’ next match may prove to be a bigger challenge — they travel to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Sun. August 14.