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Roberto De Zerbi: ‘Antonio Conte can win Premier League title with Tottenham Hotspur’

Roberto De Zerbi: ‘Antonio Conte can win Premier League title with Tottenham Hotspur’

Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi believes Italian compatriot Antonio Conte can guide Tottenham Hotspur to the Premier League title this season.

Spurs have not won a top-flight title since the 1960-61 campaign under club legend Bill Nicholson, while the North Londoners last had their hands on silverware in any competition in 2008 when they lifted the EFL Cup.

After joining Tottenham in November last year, Conte steered the club into the top four last season, and they currently sit third in the table this term, four points behind leaders Arsenal and three in front of Saturday’s opponents Brighton in fourth.

Conte is now preparing to test his mettle against a familiar face in De Zerbi having previously come up against the Italian on four occasions in Serie A.

De Zerbi and Conte have faced off on four previous occasions during their time in Italy with Sassuolo and Inter Milan respectively, with the former failing the get the better of the latter on each occasion.

Conte’s most recent title success was with Inter in 2020, and De Zerbi believes his opposite number has the credentials to triumph in the Premier League for a second time, after lifting the title with Chelsea in 2016-17.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte on October 1, 2022© Reuters

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, De Zerbi said: “When Antonio worked for Inter they were a great team and won the Serie A. He’s a great manager and he always puts together fantastic teams and squads.

“They are in the right condition to win the Premier League. That’s not easy with teams like [Manchester] City, Liverpool and Chelsea but in the transfer market they brought very good players and after one year working with Antonio [Conte] they can win the Premier League. They not only have a good team but a good squad of 20-22 players.”

De Zerbi is looking forward to his first game at the Amex Stadium this weekend since replacing Graham Potter as head coach last month.

The 43-year-old’s first match in charge saw the Seagulls play out an entertaining 3-3 draw at Liverpool last weekend, with Leandro Trossard scoring a memorable hat-trick.

De Zerbi has encouraged his players to be brave and be on the front foot again when they take on a Spurs side who lost 3-1 in the North London derby to Arsenal last weekend.

Brighton & Hove Albion's Leandro Trossard celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on October 1, 2022© Reuters

“I’m excited for my first game in Brighton,” the Italian added. “I hope we play a good game and I know the importance of our fans. In my head the fans are the 12th player, not only in Brighton but in every place.

“My teams always play with courage and bravery and I want them to ‘make the game’ tomorrow with strong personality and the right mentality.”

Brighton will be without midfielder Enock Mwepu due to illness, while Moises Caicedo is doubtful after missing first-team training on Thursday, although De Zerbi is confident that the 20-year-old Ecuadorian will be available for selection against Spurs.

“Moises Caicedo didn’t work with the team yesterday. We will be looking at the situation today, but I don’t think there will be a problem,” the Italian added.

Brighton have won two of their last three Premier League games against Tottenham and De Zerbi could become the club’s first manager to win his opening home game in the division when they face off on Saturday.

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