Talking Tactics: How Spurs could line up under Conte
Antonio Conte is widely known for his commitment to building his team from a strong foundation of three central defenders.
It has won him numerous titles in England and Italy, and the 52-year-old will need all his tactical nous to bring success to North London, where he takes command of a struggling Tottenham team.
After leaving Inter Milan in the summer following a Scudetto-winning campaign, the former Chelsea coach will be eager to stamp his style on a misfiring Spurs quickly.
Becoming the fourth manager at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium so far this year — following Jose Mourinho, Ryan Mason and Nuno Espirito Santo — we take a look to see how Conte could line up his troops for his first game in charge, against Vitesse on Thursday.
The 3-5-2 formation is undoubtedly Conte's go-to when it comes to setting up his teams.
This structure would involve three centre-backs being deployed, with Cristian Romero and Eric Dier likely to make up two of the positions.
One of Joe Rodon, Davinson Sanchez or Japhet Tanganga would fill the third space — at least until the January transfer window opens — with Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal lining up at wing-back.
The central area of midfield is occupied by one defensive-minded player — a role that could be well suited to Oliver Skipp, who has shown promise during the current campaign.
Two more central midfielders sit in front, with one being more attack-minded — Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and either Tanguy Ndombele or Giovani Lo Celso would be a perfect fit in this system.
Finally, Conte is adamant about playing two central strikers — Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son need no introduction and could prove to be a fearsome duo in the months to come.
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez formed a fruitful pairing at Conte's Inter and the hope would be Kane and Son would rekindle their partnership in this formation.
Similar to the 3-5-2 but with a few tweaks, the 3-4-3 was the primary mode of attack for Conte during his time at Chelsea.
With this particular setup, the extra central midfielder would be sacrificed to include natural wingers, as well as the flying wing-backs that the Italian is keen on.
With Chelsea, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses lined up on either side of the three centre-backs and in this case, Eden Hazard and Pedro played in front of them supporting a single striker — usually Diego Costa.
These natural wingers had the license to drift off the flanks, which would be beneficial to the likes of Son and Lucas Moura, who like to cut inside and take their men on.
This central occupation by the front three would be supported by two defensive midfielders — Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante played this role superbly for the Blues.
With so many wide players on the pitch, there are many possibilities when it comes to transition from defence to attack.
Wing-backs will hug the touchline, providing a constant option for a switch of play or pass down the line to kickstart an attack.
Another possibility is that Conte chooses evolution over revolution and seeks to adapt the current 4-2-3-1 implemented by his predecessor.
While it ultimately did not work out for Nuno, retaining the Portuguese's set-up will allow Conte to focus on coaching the underperforming squad before making wholesale changes to the structure of play.
A holding duo of Skipp and Hojbjerg, with Ndombele playing in the 10 role and Lucas and Son on either wing has provided the Lilywhites with plenty of possession but little threat — only Norwich have scored fewer league goals than them this season.
But with a change in mentality and a boost in confidence from Conte, a renowned man manager, the current formation could still reap success, should the likes of Kane and Son re-find their scoring form.
Regardless of how the former Italy boss sets his side up, there is a lot to fix on the pitch for the 2019 Champions League runners-up.
Both the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 would suit the current squad of players in North London, and it would be one of Conte's best achievements should he get this group of players back to Europe's premier club competition.