Antonio Conte delighted with Spurs' fighting spirit

While Thursday’s mauling of bitter rivals Arsenal was as much satisfying as it was important for Spurs, this uninspiring victory over Burnley could prove to be the most decisive moment of their season

While Thursday’s mauling of bitter rivals Arsenal was as much satisfying as it was important for Spurs, this uninspiring victory over Burnley could prove to be the most decisive moment of their season.

Spurs now occupy fourth spot, leapfrogging Arsenal by two points with the Gunners set for a difficult away trip to a much-improved Newcastle on Monday evening, needing a win to reclaim their position above Antonio Conte’s men.

To follow up the manner of the victory on Thursday with such a resilient display is a mark of how far Spurs have come under Conte and the Italian is suitably impressed.

“I’m so happy because I have seen a team that has improved in many aspects,” Conte explained.

“Now this team is ready to fight in every game. I think it’s not easy to play against us.

"To face Burnley wasn’t easy and they tested our nerves because it was vital to get three points and to have an opportunity to take a place in the Champions League, or to stay until the end for this big achievement.

“I’m very happy because, I repeat, I saw a team that has improved a lot step by step and now deserves, in the same way as Arsenal do, to go for a place in the Champions League but we will see what happens at the end of the season.” 

Spurs’ new-found resilience under Conte was typified by their captain Hugo Lloris who, despite battling a fever, played the full 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet.

In fact Conte revealed that Lloris, alongside back-up goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, Harry Winks and Dejan Kulusevski were all under the weather, with Kulusevski coming on for the final 20 minutes.

It’s this fighting spirit that has been an earmark of Conte’s top sides in the past and the manner of the victory and the circumstances surrounding it, makes it arguably more impressive than the demolition of Arsenal.

“It wasn’t easy because yesterday morning the doctor sent me a message that a few players they felt not well,” Conte revealed.

“They had stomach problems, vomiting and also a fever. For this reason yesterday in the training session Deki [Kulusevski] didn’t have a training session, the same Gollini, also Hugo was not in perfect condition today.

“Hugo had a fever but it was strange that this type of situation, Hugo and also Gollini were feeling unwell.

“There was no chance to miss an important game for Hugo and Gollini and they showed to be very professional and to understand very well the moment, the importance of the moment.

“They played for sure not at 100% and with their physical condition not at the top but Hugo is our captain and I think he never, ever wanted to miss this game.” 

In an ironic turn, it was in fact the Spurs fans who’s stomachs were churning in the final moments as they withstood Burnley pressure to reclaim fourth spot with one fixture left of their season.

Earlier Harry Kane had converted from the spot on the stroke of half time, following a VAR check to give Spurs the vital breakthrough.

The result moves Spurs two points above Arsenal, meaning anything less than three points for the Gunners at St. James’ Park on Monday night would leave them fifth heading into the final round of fixtures on Sunday.

Conte will be tuning in eagerly to see if Newcastle can do Spurs a favour but he is also expecting to 'suffer' with the race for the final Champions League place to go to the wire.

“I think first of all we had to do our task and to win and get three points and put some pressure on Arsenal,” he added.

“For sure I will watch the game because I love football and I want to watch and I want also to suffer.

“But I think it is a big achievement for the last game to have the possibility to take a place into Champions League because I don’t forget our path since November and we will see what happens.” 

Spurs (3-4-2-1): Lloris 6, Sanchez 6, Dier 6, Davies 6; Emerson 6, Bentancur 6, Hojbjerg 6, Sessegnon 6; Lucas 7, Son 6; Kane 7.

Subs not used: Gollini, Austin, Rodon, White, Winks, Craig, Kulusevski, Bergwijn, Scarlett.

Burnley (5-4-1): Pope 6, Roberts 6, Lowton 6, Long 6, Collins 6, Taylor 6; McNeil 6, Cork 6, Brownhill 6, Cornet 6; Barnes 5.

Subs not used: Hennessy, Bardsley, Thomas, Dodgson, Lennon, Gomez Mancini, Weghorst, Costelloe, McGlynn.

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